TUSCUMBIA — Friends, family members and fans filed into First Baptist Church of Sheffield today to pay their respects to guitarist/engineer/producer Jimmy Johnson, who died Thursday at the age of 76.
Johnson was one of the early pioneers of the Muscle Shoals music business, working with local bands as a teenager, then working as a studio musician at Rick Hall's FAME Recording Studio. Johnson was actually the first person Hall hired to assist him with his new venture.
In 1969, Johnson and three fellow session musicians, bassist David Hood, drummer Roger Hawkins and keyboardist Barry Beckett, left FAME and founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studio at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield. The studio moved into an old Naval Reserve building on Alabama Avenue in Sheffield about 10 years later.
Beckett died in 2009.
The studio was sold to Malaco Records in 1985, but has since reopened as a working studio and tourist attraction.
Johnson had been hospitalized since Aug. 31 due to a kidney condition.