I had the honor of being involved in the earliest days of Muscle Shoals Music. This is an area in NW Alabama that became known all over the world for the great records that were recorded there.
Some of the great people from the early days and beyond are – Arthur Alexander (who had the first Muscle Shoals R&B hit “You Better Move On”), Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, Billy Sherrill, David Briggs, Norbert Putnam, Jerry Carrigan, Peanut Montgomery, Travis Wammack, Rick Hall, and later on the brilliant rhythm section of Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Barry Beckett and Roger Hawkins. Then the late great Eddie Hinton arrived and the list goes on. But I’m not here to tell you about those guys. I want to tell you about an unsung hero, a man named Hollis Dixon.
Hollis started one of the first rock and roll bands around town and believe me, he always had the best. He had a great voice, but even more important he was the best front man that I have ever seen and that still holds true today. He was so funny and always great with the audience. Just about all of the musicians and songwriters that made their mark in Muscle Shoals and went on to be extremely successful were, at some point, in Hollis’ band. Hollis provided us with a gig that honed our skills and helped pay the bills until we could make a living writing our songs, playing sessions, publishing or producing records.
Hollis Dixon’s contribution to the growth of Muscle Shoals music was unprecedented. Whenever I hear “Whole Lot of Shakin”, “Blueberry Hill”, “Johnny B Good”, “Shout”, or “Suzie Q”, I remember fondly the years I spent in Hollis’ band. We must have played those songs a thousand times.
Hollis could definitely have had a successful career in the music business but his family was much more important to him. He and his beautiful wife Rae, raised three wonderful children. Really, you can’t get any more successful than that.
To Hollis, Thank you from all of us. Hollis Dixon 1935 – 2010.