Famed Producer-Songwriter Chips Moman Dead at 79

Wrote Hits for Waylon Jennings, B.J. Thomas, Barbara Mandrell

Producer, songwriter and recording studio impresario Chips Moman died Monday (June 13) in his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, at the age of 79.

Although best known for his rock and R&B productions, Moman also established a firm country music base producing such acts and the Highwaymen, Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette and Ronnie Milsap and co-writing Waylon Jennings’ chart-topping “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” and “The Wurlitzer Prize” and B.J. Thomas’ “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” the last of which won a Grammy as country song of the year in 1975.

He also co-wrote “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, which, after becoming an R&B staple for Aretha Franklin in 1967 went on to become a Top 20 country hit for Barbara Mandrell.

Lincoln Wayne Moman was born June 12, 1937 in LaGrange and migrated to Memphis while still a teenager to pursue a career in music. Among his early gigs was playing in road bands for Johnny Burnett and Gene Vincent.

Moman founded American Sound Studio in Memphis in 1967 after having produced acts for Satellite Records (later Stax) and Volt Records. The list of artists recording at American Sound embraced Thomas, Franklin, Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond, Merillee Rush and Petula Clark.

Moman produced some of Presley’s most notable hits including “Suspicious Minds,” “In the Ghetto” and “Kentucky Rain.”

In 1984, he joined producer-publisher Buddy Killen and former Capricorn Records chief Phil Walden in creating the Nashville-based Triad Records. In spite of its creative pedigree and vaulting ambitions, the label never spawned a hit and was disbanded within months after its founding.

Moman brought together superstars Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis for the nostalgic landmark 1986 album Class of ’55. An album of interviews about the making of Class of ’55 earned Moman his second Grammy, this one for best spoken word recording.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.