Say, you wanna hear a sad song? Eddie Hinton
was a guitar player, vocalist, and songwriter from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Co-writer of one of the tenderest, sexiest hits of the late 60s, Dusty Springfield's Breakfast in Bed
, Hinton was a key member of the world-famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section
from 1967 to 1971 (turning down an invitation from Duane Allman to be a member of the Allman Brothers Band) who worked as a studio musician on albums by Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, the Staples Singers, and Toots Hibbert, but his early success was sidetracked
by mental problems, booze, and drugs.
His brilliant (if unfortunately titled) solo debut, Very Extremely Dangerous
, was released on Capricorn Records in 1978, months before the label went bankrupt
. Crushed, Hinton kept plugging away, recording an album with Jimmy Johnson
in 1982. But the album went unreleased and that blow, along with the stress of a divorce, sent Hinton into a tailspin. He ended up homeless and estranged from his family. He was on a bus stop bench in front of the Salvation Army in Decatur, Alabama when he was recognized by John D. Wkyker, a Decatur native who recognized Hinton from their days in the University of Alabama drum and bugle corps. Himself a veteran of the music business, Wyker
helped Hinton get back on his feet, and the two started a music publishing company. New music, along with the unreleased Jimmy Johnson tracks, became the album Letters From Mississippi
, and soon Hinton was performing again, both to small rooms in the US and to larger and more enthusiastic European crowds. That success landed Hinton a contract for two more albums, Cry and Moan
and Very Blue Highway
. Though Hinton's demons never left him, he was able to reconcile with his family. Hinton died of a heart attack in 1995 at his mother's home in Birmingham.
Said Jerry Wexler of Hinton in the liner notes of the posthumously released Hard Luck Guy
: "He remains unique, a white boy who truly sang and played in the spirit of the great black soul artists he venerated. With Eddie it wasn't imitation; it was totally created, with a fire and fury that was as real as Otis Redding's and Wilson Pickett's."
His music, an intoxicating mix of soul, gospel, country, and rock, is undergoing something of a revival, thanks to the efforts of the band Drive-By Truckers
. They've recorded several of Hinton's songs, including Where's Eddie
and Everybody Needs Love
(this performance includes original Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section member David Hood, father of Patterson).
Eddie Hinton's albums Letters from Mississippi
and Very Extremely Dangerous
are available for your listening pleasure at Grooveshark.
And here's Eddie playing guitar on Toots Hibbert's Freedom Train
And if you find yourself rather depressed by Hinton's tragic story, listen to Eddie shout, scat, scream, and holler through Shout Bamalama
and leave with a smile on your face and your ass in motion.