December 27th, 2014

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Cover of Don't Knock my Love album

Wilson Pickett

One day in the early 70s I got a telephone call from Brad Shapiro. Brad and Dave Crawford were producing an album on Wilson Pickett at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with the Swampers in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They offered me double scale for a week of recording. I had also just got a call to back up Aretha Franklin in a huge concert arena in the Metro Detroit area. I thought about it for a minute and chose to record with Pickett for double scale. Later I finally got the chance to play with Aretha at the Four Tops 50th Anniversary show when she sang a duet with Levi Stubbs.

Muscle Shoals Sound

The Swampers








The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was not far from Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River. I remember eating delicious fried Tennessee River catfish at a restaurant down there. The studio itself was on a highway across from a cemetery. The members of the Swampers were Roger Hawkins – drums, Jimmy Johnson – guitar, Barry Beckett – Keyboards, and David Hood – bass. There was also a guitarist called “Tippy” on the sessions. Barry would listen to the song demo and write out a chart using the Nashville Numbering system and then he would Xerox it for the rest of the band. I was used to reading music charts at Motown so I looked at the chords and played the music by ear. We usually recorded one song an hour at Motown but here it was more laid back so we recorded one song every three hours. The “Swampers” had a great southern funk feel and I enjoyed working with them. I used my Condor Unit on guitar to double the bass line on “Don’t Knock my Love” which became a huge hit on Atlantic for Pickett. I sat in with Wilson in Vegas and heard him sing in the studio and he was the real deal. He knew how to get funky and I enjoyed working with him.

This is a video of “Don’t Knock my Love” by Wilson Pickett recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with me doubling the bass line on guitar with my Condor Unit.

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Dennis Coffey