Friday, October 28, 2005

Chips Moman's Formula for Success

Chips Moman is one of several immensely talented record producers who came out of the Memphis Music scene in the 1960's.

Lincoln "Chips" Moman's career began as guitarist with The Dorsey Burnette Band and recordings with Gene Vincent. There he gained early attention for his guitar combined with noted session work at Gold Star Studio in Los Angeles. However when Moman returned to Memphis, he joined Jim Stewart and Astelle Axton in the development of Satellite Records as a recording engineer. Shortly afterwards Moman encouraged Stewart and Axton to relocate the recording studio to a vacant movie theatre in South Memphis. That's where Moman produced the label's first hit record titled,"Gee Whiz" by Carla Thomas. Within months Satellite Records changed it's name to Stax Records adopting it's name from the first two letters in the owners names, STewart and AXton.

The Stax label would go on to have a string of hit records by The Mar-Keys, William Bell and Booker T. and The M.G.'s. But Moman would soon depart Stax Records over a royalty dispute from the hit record, "Green Onions" by Booker T. and The M.G.'s.

Publicity shy and strongly independent, Moman would open his own recording studio called American Studio with borrowed money combined with his $3,000 settlement from Stax Records. Within the next year he would produce his first million seller on MGM Records with The Gentrys, "Keep On Dancing."

American Studio would soon become a haven for the top musicians and song writers. With a prominent rhythm section established, Moman's studio became known as the studio with the formula that matched a great a song, with great musicians, and with a great production. Among the artist who made a pilgrimage to American Studio were The Box Tops, Joe Tex, Percy Sledge, James Carr, Danny O'Keefe, Bobby Womak, Petula Clark, Herbie Mann, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, Dionne Warwick and Neil Diamond. Another Moman client, The King, Elvis Presley, regained his down-home atmosphere with Moman's studio band of laid-back musicians to record some of his greatest hits at American including "Suspicious Minds", "In The Ghetto," and "Kentucky Rain."

During the period of the late 1960's and early 1970's, Moman's American Recording Studio scored an unprecedented amount of hit singles by producing more than 120 chart records. But Chips Moman wasn't through yet. In the mid-1970's he relocated to Nashville where he continued his successful writing and recording with B.J. Thomas, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Roy Orbison. Several noted hits that Moman co-wrote during his Nashville years were; "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and "Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" by B.J. Thomas and "Luckenbach, Texas" by Waylon Jennings.

When Memphis Music ruled the industry, Chips Moman's American Studio would become a haven for the top musicians and songwriters. Pictured (c) here in a rare stage appearance are (L to R) Spooner Oldham on keyboards, Chips Moman & Dan Penn on guitar performing with Swamp Rocker Tony Joe White. (Background drummer and bassist unidentified)

A Gentrys Reunion. Chips Moman made significant contributions to Southern Music by mastering the blend between Country Music and Soul Music. He also conquered the pop market with his first million selling record by The Gentrys, "Keep On Dancing". Moman (above left) reunited here in 1985 with former Gentrys vocalist/guitarist (center) Larry Raspberry and record promoter Phillip Rauls (right) who served as original Road Manager of the band.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Phillips Rauls...Stan Daniel here...I remember the booger board and the bottle of Champange you sent to me and Jonell on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico and the Tour of France with Atlantic Records April in paris. Great write up on Chips and Great to see you and Larry again...really good picture.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!!.. how are you Mr. Rauls,im AB of M@sTaMiND ProductionZ i am 20yrs of age and i highly admire your accomplishments as well as your skill... and just wanted to contribute and show some Brotherhood on your page.. Stay Blessed...

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Steve Turkel said...

A little known fact was that Troy Shondell says he covered the Chip Moman song "This Time" but no one mentions the guy he covered. Chip talks about Gold Star Studios and everyone knows that Cochran and Capehart had a guy do the demo because Eddy wasn't accomplished enough to set "Summertime Blues" on fire, no one mentions the name of the 15 year old that recorded "That's Alright Mama" in 1955 and no one remembers the guy who performed "Johnny B. Goode live with Chuck Berry saying he couldn't play that song like that sittin' down. Well Fats Domino thought the guys version of "I Hear You Knockin" was 20 years ahead of its time and Stevie Ray Vaughn conceded that the "The Sky Is Crying" guitar solos by the same guy were sensational and lastly John Lee Hooker said this guys version of "I'm In The Mood" WAS the song. His name was nate Jaeger and nobody wanted to take the stage before or after him. He was Nate Jaeger!

1:52 PM  

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