Legendary Record Producer Barry Beckett Dies

Barry Beckett, a keyboardist and producer who worked with artists ranging from Dire Straits to Kenny Chesney, died overnight Wednesday (June 10) at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., following a lengthy illness. He was 66. Beckett was a keyboardist with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, the legendary session ensemble at Rick Hall’s Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Fondly referred to as the Swampers, the band was immortalized in the lyrics of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” Beckett’s playing is featured on hits such as the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” and Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome.” His production credits include Alabama’s “If I Had You” (a No. 1 hit in 1989) and Kenny Chesney’s “When I Close My Eyes” (which spent two weeks at No. 2 in 1996). He also supervised the sessions for “There’s a Tear in My Beer,” which featured Hank Williams Jr. adding his late father’s vocal from a demo recording. A Top 10 hit in 1989, the track won a Grammy for country vocal collaboration and a CMA Award for vocal event of the year. Beckett produced sessions for Neal McCoy, Lorrie Morgan, T. Graham Brown, Confederate Railroad and Delbert McClinton. However, he is most famous for his production work on Dire Strait’s Communiqué, Bob Seger’s Night Moves and Stranger in Town and Bob Dylan’s Dylan, Slow Train Coming and Saved.