Legendary producer-songwriter Chips Moman dies

Chips Moman & The Memphis Boys
Chips Moman & The Memphis Boys

Chips Moman (seated) & The Memphis Boys being honoured by the Memphis Chapter. Pic: Wikimedia Commons/Jeremy L. Roberts

Producer known for recording Elvis, and writing hits at Stax and American Sound, dies the day after his 79th birthday

Lincoln “Chips” Moman, a Memphis producer, musician and songwriter who famously helped Elvis Presley engineer a musical comeback in the late 1960s, passed away on Monday – a day after his 79th birthday. The news was announced by Memphis leader, The Commercial Appeal, stating that Moman had died at a hospice in his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, which had been confirmed by friend and music industry associate Marty Lacker. Other sources declared that he had succumbed to a lengthy struggle with lung disease.

Born in 1937, Moman started as a rockabilly guitarist and band leader in his teens, playing in road bands for the likes of Johnny Burnett and Gene Vincent. He went on to join the writing and engineering team at the fledgling Stax Records, where he recorded some of the label’s early hits including Carla Thomas’ Gee Whiz. Following his split with Stax, Moman started American Sound Studio in 1962. Working with with house band The Memphis Boys, the studio experienced an unprecedented run of hits in the music industry, producing more than 120 charting singles by pop, soul and country artists, including the Box Tops’ The Letter, Neil Diamond‘s Sweet Caroline and Merrilee Rush’s Angel Of The Morning. During the late 60s and early 70s, more than 20 of Billboard‘s Hot 100 songs were created at American Sound.

Following his 1968 comeback, Elvis Presley recorded with Moman, cutting Suspicious Minds, Kentucky Rain and the From Elvis In Memphis album. Dusty Springfield’s classic Dusty In Memphis — which included Son Of A Preacher Man — was also recorded at American Sound, and collaborating with fellow Memphis producer and songwriter Dan Penn, Moman wrote two of Southern soul’s definitive songs: Dark End Of The Street for James Carr and Aretha Franklin’s Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.

After American Sound Studios closed in 1972, Moman relocated to Nashville and continued his prolific career as a songwriter and producer, working with the likes of The Highwaymen – a supergroup made up of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.

Moman was elected into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1990 and Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2014. He is survived by his wife Jane, daughter Monique and son Casey.

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