Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Passings: Chips Moman, Guitarist, Songwriter and Producer (1937 - 2016)

by VVN Music

Lincoln Wayne "Chips" Moman, the multi-talented producer, guitarist and songwriter, died in La Grange, GA after battling lung disease at the age of 79.

Moman was born in LaGrange, GA and moved to Memphis at the age of 16, going on to play in the road bands for Johnny Burnette and Gene Vincent. He later moved to Los Angeles where he became a session guitarist for Gold Star Studio.

In the late-50's, Moman returned to Memphis where he began working with Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton at their Satellite label. When the company couldn't break into the country market, they changed their name to Stax and brought in R&B artists starting with Carla Thomas for whom he produced the company's first hit single, Gee Whiz.

For the next five years, Moman produced most of the records coming out of Stax by artists like Rufus Thomas, the Mar-Keys, William Bell and Booker T. and the M.G.'s; however, after butting heads with Stewart over money, he left the label in 1964.

Moman used money from a settlement with Stax to set up his own Memphis-based studio, American Sound Studios, where artists like the Box Tops and Joe Tex recorded. It was also during this time that Chips started to once again play guitar, working at the FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals and playing on recordings by Aretha Franklin. Moman and Dan Penn also began writing together turning out such hits as Franklin's Do Right Woman, Do Right Man and Dan Carr's Dark End of the Street.

A dispute between Atlantic Record's Jerry Wexler and Rick Hall of FAME Studios brought the label's stable of artists to American Sound Studios where Moman produced music from Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, Herbie Mann and many others.  At one point in the late 60's almost a quarter of the Billboard Hot 100 was made at American Studios, many with Moman helming, and he branched out to work with other labels including Bang (Neil Diamond's Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show) and RCA where he produced Elvis Presley's From Elvis to Memphis and Elvis Back to Memphis.

By the mid-70's, Moman had tired of working in Memphis and moved to Nashville where he started working with a wide variety of country artists including B.J. Thomas, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette and Waylon Jennings for which he wrote the now standard, Luckenbach, Texas. He also produced the Highwaymen (Jennings, Nelson, Johnny Cash & Kris Kristofferson) and was often referred to as the fifth member of the band.

The 80's found Moman back in Memphis but he soon took his studio to LaGrange, GA where he continued to produce for much of the rest of his life.

Moman was, at one time, married to fellow songwriter Toni Wine who wrote such songs as A Groovy Kind of Love, Candida and Black Pearl.

He is survived by his current wife, Jane, a daughter and a son.

Hits written by Chips Moman:

  • Last Night - Mar-Keys (with Charles Axton, Jerry Lee Smith, Floyd Newman and Gil Caple)
  • This Time - Troy Shondell
  • Love Looks Good - David Houston (with George Richey)
  • Do Right Woman, Do Right Man - Aretha Franklin (with Dan Penn)
  • The Dark End of the Street - James Carr (with Dan Penn)
  • (Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song - B.J. Thomas (with Buddy Emmons)
  • Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love) - Waylon Jennings (with Buddy Emmons)
  • The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You) - Waylon Jennings (with Buddy Emmons)
  • So Much Like My Dad - George Strait (with Buddy Emmons)
A selection of hits produced by Chips Moman:
  • Gee Whiz - Carla Thomas
  • You Don't Miss Your Water - William Bell
  • Last Night - Mar-Keys
  • Keep on Dancin' - Gentrys
  • Born a Woman - Sandy Posey
  • Single Girl - Sandy Posey
  • Skinny Legs and All - Joe Tex
  • Angel of the Morning - Merilee Rush
  • Hooked on a Feeling - B.J. Thomas
  • Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show - Neil Diamond
  • Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
  • Soul Deep - Box Tops
  • In the Ghetto - Elvis Presley
  • Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley
  • Kentucky Rain - Elvis Presley
  • Rings - Cymarron
  • Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys - Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings
  • Pancho and Lefty - Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson
  • Always on My Mind - Willie Nelson
  • Highwayman - Highwaymen