Hard Luck Guy
May 31, 2011 2:40 PM   Subscribe

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.
posted by BitterOldPunk (22 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Great post. Thanks.
posted by motty at 2:49 PM on May 31, 2011

I haven't heard any of his stuff except for Breakfast in Bed, which I love, but if Duane liked him, then I like him. I'll be digging in to this.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:51 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow, what a great post.

Now I have a desire to do Breakfast In Bed without changing any of the genders in the lyrics and making it an odd homo-friendly fuckbuddy song.
posted by hippybear at 2:52 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not to thread-sit, but I just can't help myself:

Eddie Hinton is the greatest white blues singer I have ever heard. Period. Hands down. Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, name anyone. Eddie's better. Eddie Hinton is the greatest white blues singer I have ever heard.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:59 PM on May 31, 2011

This is utterly fantastic.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:12 PM on May 31, 2011

This is great. And you're a great person for making this post.
posted by marxchivist at 3:30 PM on May 31, 2011

Really good stuff.
posted by Sailormom at 3:39 PM on May 31, 2011

Thank you so much for this. I knew the song by Dusty Springfield, but nothing about the songwriter. Yes he is one damn fine singer.

Here is Baby Washington doing "Breakfast in Bed"
posted by readery at 3:51 PM on May 31, 2011

posted by carping demon at 4:44 PM on May 31, 2011

You can play bass? You can play drum? Riddim, come forward!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:44 PM on May 31, 2011

name anyone.

Mitch Ryder. Dan Penn. Frank Hutchison. Bobby Charles.

(I love me some Eddie Hinton, but you know better than to challenge me like that)
posted by jonmc at 5:00 PM on May 31, 2011

Better than Beefheart?
posted by AJaffe at 5:15 PM on May 31, 2011

Beefheart is great, but he's kind of a genre unto himself rather than a blue-eyed R&B singer like the people we've mentioned.
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on May 31, 2011

Mitch Ryder. Dan Penn. Frank Hutchison. Bobby Charles.

Ryder didn't have the range. Dan Penn and Bobby Charles were both crooners, though Penn's voice has rough edges similar to Hinton's. Eddie was the total package. He could go from smooth soul to Delta shouting to gospel quavers to country twang. In terms of flexibility and expressiveness, yeah, I'd put Eddie Hinton on the top of the heap.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:21 PM on May 31, 2011

Dan Penn and Bobby Charles were both crooners

That's stretching it on Charles, who was also a terrific songwriter. (and to be fair, Ryder was more James Brown/Motown oriented than the souther soul that influenced Hinton, Penn, etc.)
posted by jonmc at 5:25 PM on May 31, 2011

Always loved Mink Deville's "Help Me Make It (Power Of A Woman's Love)," written by Eddie Hinton. Willy should get an honorable mention in your blue-eyed soul sweepstakes.
posted by bonefish at 6:30 PM on May 31, 2011

I really liked Hard Luck Guy. Thanks.
posted by dragonplayer at 7:11 PM on May 31, 2011

whoa, I know Breakfast in Bed by Lorena Bennett. That's Reggae, amazing vocals.

Never knew, Thanks for this.
posted by alicesshoe at 8:41 PM on May 31, 2011

Thanks a lot for this, just had dinner with a friend and we were talking about all the amazing music that has been created that never quite got the attention it deserved. Never knew about him before, and seconding Devils Rancher's comment about Duane Allman liking Hinton.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:33 PM on May 31, 2011

Really interesting ! Thank you !
posted by nicolin at 2:37 AM on June 1, 2011

Wonderful stuff. I first learned about Hinton on the amazing UK-produced compilation albums Country Got Soul. Really worth seeking out for more incredible almost-lost music.
posted by neroli at 6:04 AM on June 1, 2011

Shout Bamalama makes me think of Wet Willie. I like their version, but am delighted to discover Eddie Hinton. Thank you for this.
posted by notashroom at 6:09 PM on June 1, 2011

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