David Hood Electric bassist, trombonist, and producer David Hood (1943- ) is internationally recognized as a founding member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (MSRS). He joined MSRS colleagues Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett, and Roger Hawkins in founding Muscle Shoals Sound Studio (MSSS) in Sheffield, Colbert County, in April 1969. Hood and drummer Roger Hawkins nurtured a symbiotic musical relationship of remarkable consistency and stylistic range during the heyday of the emergence of Southern Soul. The relationship also occurred during the rapid development of recording studio performance practices that were widely influential across a wide spectrum of popular music from regional rhythm and blues to cosmopolitan rock and soul.
As the “house” bassist at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Hood’s output has been extensive, amounting to thousands of recorded performances. His credits include notable tracks for artists such as The Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, Bob Seger, and Delbert McClinton. Among the members of the MSRS, Hood maintained the most sustained active career from 1964 and continuing into the second decade of the twenty-first century. Throughout, he has been adaptively creative and demonstrating a dedication to musical perfection, always in the service of the artist’s vision and the requirements of song production.
Drive-by Truckers Lawrence Davidson “David” Hood III was born in Sheffield on September 21, 1943, to Lawrence Davidson Hood Jr. of Bessemer, Jefferson County, and Louise Evelyn Walsh, of Birmingham, Jefferson County. He was raised in a musical environment. His father, who owned a tire company and worked in real estate, had a sizable record collection of big band jazz and classical music. Hood graduated from Sheffield High School and then attended Florence State College (present-day University of North Alabama) for three years. He played trombone in high school and college. His musical interests expanded rapidly, moving from his father’s record collection to rock and roll and R&B in the late 1950s. At this time, music broadcast from Nashville and Memphis exposed him to emergent African American stars Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, and Bo Diddley, as well as white pop artists such as the Ventures and the Beatles. Around this era, Hood married Jan Patterson, with whom he would have two children, daughter Lilla Walsh Hood and son Patterson David Hood, a gifted musician and songwriter who has worked with the Drive-By Truckers for two decades. The couple later divorced, and he later married Judith (Judy) Elizabeth Stockwell of Sheffield.
Also in the early 1960s, Hood attended local musical performances including dance bands such as Hollis Dixon and the Keynotes, Jimmy Johnson’s the Del-Rays, and Dan Penn and the Mark V (also called the Pallbearers, which included Roger Hawkins). Hood began playing electric bass when his friends asked him to join their newly formed band. Working at his father’s tire store through college, Hood gravitated to music recording at Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) Studios in Muscle Shoals, which was becoming increasingly significant regionally. There, he met producer Rick Hall during a Del-Rays session recording “Fortune Teller” in 1965. He would also meet session musicians Dan Penn, future MSRS members Jimmy Johnson and Roger Hawkins, and later Barry Beckett. He formed The Mystics with Terry Woodford, future MSSS publicist and owner of Wishbone Studio in Muscle Shoals, and they recorded several times at FAME, including “Gonna Make You Say Yeah” in 1966.
FAME Studios, 1967 Meanwhile, Hood began participating in recording sessions at Quin Ivy’s Quinvy Studio (also called Norala) in Sheffield for artists such as Bill Brandon, Don Varner, and Z.Z. Hill and played bass on Percy Sledge ‘s “Warm and Tender Love” in May 1966. At FAME, he played trombone on James and Bobby Purify’s “I’m Your Puppet” that September. Soul artist and producer Otis Redding also began recording at FAME in 1966 under his Jotis label with Hood in attendence. Redding brought Arthur Conley to FAME to record “Sweet Soul Music” in early 1967, a track backed by Redding’s touring band. Hood played on Conley’s follow-up, More Sweet Soul, in 1969. Redding was signed to Atlantic Records, and Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music” session coincided with Atlantic recording artist Aretha Franklin’s session at FAME. She notably recorded her hit “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” on which Hood played trombone. Hood played bass in sessions at Quinvy Studio for Percy Sledge, along with the three other eventual members of the MSRS, on such singles as “Take Time to Know Her” in early 1968.
Though Hood’s recording career was quickly shifting to bass duties, it should be noted that three other bassists worked on sessions at FAME during the mid-to-late 1960s. Albert “Junior” Lowe is credited on sessions for Joe Simon, Percy Sledge, and Wilson Pickett. Jerry Jemmott of New York City worked with Franklin and Pickett in 1968. And Memphis-bassist and guitarist Thomas Clark “Tommy” Cogbill played on Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” in October 1966, and he was very influential as Hood’s mentor for recording techniques. His influence can be heard on records such as Laura Lee’s “Up Tight, Good Man” in mid-1967, Etta James’ “Tell Mama” that October, and Pickett’s “A Man and a Half” the following September. However, as Franklin’s Atlantic Records productions accelerated in 1968 and 1969, Hood replaced Cogbill on several tracks for her records This Girl’s in Love with You (1969) and Spirit in the Dark (1970).
Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, 1970s In April 1969, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio opened for business, and by the end of the year the MSRS was engaged in round-the-clock sessions for artists such as Lulu on “Oh Me Oh My (I’m a Fool for You Baby)” and R. B. Greaves on “Take a Letter Maria” that September. Soul singer Johnnie Taylor recorded numerous soul classics on Taylored in Silk (1971-1973), for which the distinctive Hood-Hawkins musical signature is unmistakable. Then, The Staple Singers’ hugely popular hit “I’ll Take You There” was recorded, featuring an instantly recognizable solo by Hood. Around this time, Hood and the MSRS joined the band Traffic for a tour of the United States and Europe. Returning to Muscle Shoals, the MSRS began an extensive recording relationship with Detroit rock singer/songwriter Bob Seger, an association that resulted in seven albums and helped to broaden Hood’s ability to adapt to different musical genres. That approach involved working through the arrangement of a song, a method perfected over hundreds of recording sessions, and revising the bass part to exact proportions that bring out the song’s inner sense. One can hear this, for example, on Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973), Percy Sledge’s I’ll Be Your Everything (1975), and Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages (1974). In the decade leading up to the sale of MSSS to Malaco Records in 1985, Hood played in a wide roster of recording sessions. Notable artists include Bonnie Bramlett, Joe Cocker, Glenn Frye, Eddie Hinton, Julian Lennon, Delbert McClinton, Frankie Miller, The Staple Singers, and Bobby Womack.
David and Patterson Hood After 1985, Hood’s career continued unabated, with recording sessions for Malaco artists Bobby Bland and Johnnie Taylor, and he toured Europe with Latimore, Denise LaSalle, and Little Milton, and Mike Griffin in 1993. Also in the 1990s, he played on Etta James’ The Right Time (1992) and Dan Penn’s Do Right Man (1994). Later, he began working with The Decoys, a band formed by Johnny Sandlin and fronted by singer/guitarist Scott Boyer, a former band mate of Gregg Allman. Sandlin, along with renowned recording engineer Tom Dowd, produced Gregg Allman’s Searching for Simplicity (1997), with Hood on bass. The Decoys’ Shot from the Saddle (2001) was released on Muscle Shoals Records, an offshoot of FAME.
Into the twenty-first century, Hood performed on Amazing Rhythm Aces veteran Russell Smith’s The End is Not in Sight (2002), John Hiatt’s Master of Disaster (2005), Steve Cropper’s Dedicated (2011), and Merle Haggard’s Working in Tennessee (2011). He joined Scottish-Irish folk-rock band The Waterboys in 2014-2016 for an extensive tour of Europe and later played on Sheryl Crow’s star-studded recording Threads in 2019.
Hood was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2008, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame.