Jerry Carrigan, Muscle Shoals drummer who played with Elvis and others, dies at 75

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Jerry Carrigan at his ninduction into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2010
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Drummer Jerry Carrigan, who was in the first rhythm section at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and was later an in-demand session player in Nashville, has died at his home in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame announced that Carrigan died on June 22. He was 75.

The Alabama-born 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 playing in the Muscle Shoals backup band that opened for the Beatles before their first U.S. concert in Washington, D.C., in 1964, Putnam said.


The three Alabama musicians later moved to Nashville, where they became some of the most in-demand session players, known as the Nashville Cats. He became a prolific musician, playing with 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 Henry Mancini orchestral compositions to JJ Cale and Tony Joe White honky tonk tunes.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum lists some of his credits as Bobby Bare’s “Marie Laveau,” Waylon Jennings’ “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” 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,” Rogers’ “The Gambler,” Ray Stevens’ “Everything Is Beautiful,” and White’s “Polk Salad Annie.”

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