Chips Moman, producer – obituary


Chips Moman, who has died aged 79, wrote songs for Aretha Franklin and James Carr and produced information for Bobby Womack and Wilson Pickett, amongst many others; however he was most likely greatest often called the producer accountable for Elvis Presley’s fifteenth studio album, From Elvis in Memphis (1969).

Moman’s recording classes with Elvis additionally produced the hit singles Suspicious Minds, Don’t Cry Daddy, Kentucky Rain and Within the Ghetto and marked a musical renaissance for the singer, who had spent a lot of the Nineteen Sixties within the artistic doldrums.

The producer already had a nice pedigree when he was approached by Elvis’s individuals, eager to capitalise on what grew to become often called the “’68 Comeback Particular”, a televised look by which the star jammed informally in entrance of a studio viewers.

Moman had made his title on the extremely profitable Memphis-based rhythm and blues label Stax, earlier than establishing his personal operation, American Sound Studio, in 1967 in a run-down district of south Memphis. He had acquired a fame for remodeling careers (Bobby Womack recorded a string of hit singles within the studio).

“American” had a cool sound, nice songwriters, and a southern-style home band, the Memphis Boys, that was considered top-of-the-line within the enterprise.

Having determined to desert his common back-up band, Elvis agreed a 10-day recording session with Moman beginning on January 13 1969. Sensing the historic potentialities, Moman postponed a Neil Diamond session he had booked.

To start with, issues didn’t look promising. The King had a chilly and Moman objected to the scale of his entourage (which was obediently lowered). “Once I instructed him he was off pitch,” Moman later recalled, “his complete entourage would practically faint.”  For the primary track of the session, a melancholy nation morality story, Lengthy Black Limousine, Elvis’s tone is rasping, coarsened by his chilly, however the consequence, after 9 takes, is uncooked and highly effective.

It quickly grew to become clear that Moman (described by Elvis Presley’s biographer, Peter Guralnick, as “a flinty-eyed man of fierce intelligence”) had captured the spirit and spontaneity of Elvis’s efficiency on the 1968 tv present.  A follow-up reserving was organized for February.

Moman’s energetic and ingenious preparations – as a nicely as a rhythm part and back-up band which appeared livelier (and extra achieved) than Elvis’s somewhat stiff and old school common help, the Jordanaires – gave From Elvis in Memphis a brand new vigour and boldness. The album contained 12 of the tracks from the recordings overseen by Moman, together with Solely the Sturdy Survive and Mild on My Thoughts.

Regardless of his worries about how his followers would react to a “message track”, Within the Ghetto grew to become his first High 10 hit in 4 years. It took 23 takes, Moman gently encouraging each singer and band all through. Suspicious Minds, by Mark James, a younger workers author of Moman’s, grew to become Elvis’s 18th No 1 single.

In 2009 the critic Bruce Eder stated that together with Elvis Presley (1956), From Elvis in Memphis was Presley’s “biggest album” and “one of many biggest white soul albums (and one of many biggest soul albums) ever reduce”. 

On the session’s finish Elvis turned to Moman and stated: “We’ve some hits, don’t we, Chips?” With out lacking a beat, Moman replied: “Possibly a few of your largest.”

Lincoln Wayne Moman – often called “Chips” due to his love of poker – was born on June 12 1937 at LaGrange, Georgia. After leaving faculty aged 14, he hitchhiked to Memphis to hitch a cousin, who was working as a home painter.

Whereas strumming a buddy’s guitar throughout a break from his portray he was approached by Warren Smith from Solar Information, who requested him if he wished a job. “Doing what?” requested Chips. Quickly he was on the street as a part of Gene Vincent’s rockabilly band, however after a automotive accident he returned to Memphis, the place he started writing and producing songs, the primary of which was Idiot in Love, for the doo-wop band, the Veltones.

Following a spell in Los Angeles, the place he labored as a session guitarist at Gold Star Studios, he returned to Memphis and joined Satellite tv for pc Information (later Stax) which had been arrange by Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton. Moman produced Stax’s first main hit, Gee Whiz (1961), sung by Carla Thomas, however in 1962 he left, eager to be his personal boss and unable to agree with Stewart and Estelle Axton on handle monetary issues. “Chips cherished to drive fancy vehicles,” Estelle Axton stated. “He’d have them financed, then he’d run to maintain from paying notes. You would all the time inform once they was after him.”

After establishing American, Moman had a string of recording successes with Womack, Wilson Pickett, Petula Clark and the Field Tops, whose recording of The Letter was a world hit in 1967. Following Elvis’s musical rebirth, different stars sought out the American Sound magic; Dusty Springfield travelled to the studio to file the album Dusty in Memphis (1969) – which included the large hit single Son of a Preacher Man (produced by Jerry Wexler), and Neil Diamond selected American Sound for his recording of Candy Caroline (1969), his first main hit for some time.

Throughout his time at American, Moman was additionally writing songs, together with, in 1967, Do Proper Girl, Do Proper Man (which he co-wrote with Dan Penn for Aretha Franklin) and The Darkish Finish of the Avenue (additionally in 1967), one of many nice “dishonest songs”, recorded by the soul singer James Carr. Each songs had been written, Penn later recalled in an interview with The Day by day Telegraph’s Mick Brown, in the course of an all-night poker sport, throughout a conference of disc jockeys in Nashville.

Within the early Seventies Moman married Toni Wine, who wrote A Groovy Form of Love (1965), however the marriage was later dissolved. In 1971, regardless of having had the phrase Memphis tattooed on his proper arm, Moman left the town, indignant that he had not acquired the popularity he felt he deserved.

Following a interval working a studio in Atlanta, Georgia, he moved to Nashville, the place he produced and co-wrote BJ Thomas’s hit (Hey Received’t You Play) One other Anyone Performed Anyone Unsuitable Music (1975), for which he received a Grammy award. He additionally co-wrote Luckenbach, Texas (Again to the Fundamentals of Love) for Waylon Jennings and produced albums for, amongst others, Willie Nelson and Tammy Wynette.

Moman recorded the primary demo of At all times On My Thoughts (co-written by Mark James), however by no means accomplished the session and the track grew to become an enormous hit for Elvis in 1972 after it was handed on to him by a bodyguard. He did, nevertheless, produce a later model by Willie Nelson. He additionally produced Highwaymen (1985), the primary studio album by Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Money, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, who had fashioned a rustic music supergroup of the identical title.

For Moman, “making the file itself” was all that mattered. “From the day I went into the Gold Star Studio in California, I by no means cared about the rest.”

Latterly, Chips Moman lived and labored in his residence city of LaGrange, Georgia. He’s survived by his second spouse, Jane, and by a son and daughter.

Chips Moman, born June 12 1937, died June 13 2016


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