NASHVILLE — Alabama-born drummer Jerry Carrigan, who was in the first rhythm section for FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals and later an in-demand session player in Nashville, Tennessee, died at age 75 in Chattanooga.
His cousin, Tom Carrigan, said he learned of Carrigan’s death last Thursday, but he didn’t know the exact date of his death.
Carrigan was just a teenager when he and his friends David Briggs, who played piano, and Norbert Putnam, who played bass, helped to create the Muscle Shoals sound under the guidance of producer Rick Hall. Putnam said they played on some of the earliest FAME records, including Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On,” whose songs caught the attention of The Beatles.
That led to Carrigan getting to play in the Muscle Shoals backup band that opened for The Beatles on their first U.S. concert in Washington D.C. in 1964, said Putnam.
Later the three Alabama musicians moved to Nashville, where they became some of the most in-demand session players in Nashville, a group which is commonly called the Nashville Cats. He became a prolific musician, playing for Elvis Presley, George Jones, Kenny Rogers, Porter Wagoner and more.
Putnam said Tuesday that the Nashville session musicians in the ’70s had to be versatile and Carrigan worked on everything from big band music to composer Henry Mancini to JJ Cale and Tony Joe White.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum lists some of his credits as Bobby Bare’s “Marie Laveau,” Waylon Jennings’s “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Middle Aged Crazy,” Jerry Reed’s “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors,” Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” Ray Stevens’ “Everything Is Beautiful,” and Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie.”
Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press