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Muscle Shoals drummer for The Swampers, Roger Hawkins, dies at 75

Roger Hawkins of The Swampers at Muscle Shoals Sound
Roger Hawkins of The Swampers at Muscle Shoals Sound(MSSS)
Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WAFF) - Roger Hawkins was the kind of musician who could make a quiet crowd get on their feet and dance. The drummer, a member of the iconic Muscle Shoals Swampers and co-founder of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, has died at 75.

Officials with Muscle Shoals Sound confirmed Hawkins died at his home in Sheffield on Thursday afternoon.

The studio’s official Facebook page posted the following statement:

“Our hearts are breaking today as the heartbeat of “The Swampers” drummer Roger Hawkins passed away this afternoon at his home in Sheffield. He was 75. Jerry Wexler called Roger, “the greatest drummer of all time”. Roger was a kind and generous man who loved family, friends and his fellow musicians. Arrangements will be announced soon. We love you Roger. Rest in Peace and watch over us as we are all better for having known you. We will think of you as we listen to your many hits including, “Respect Yourself”, “Mustang Sally”, “When A Man Loves A Woman”, “Chain of Fools”, “I’ll Take You There” and so many more.”

Our hearts are breaking today as the heartbeat of "The Swampers" drummer Roger Hawkins passed away this afternoon at his...

Posted by Muscle Shoals Sound Studio on Thursday, May 20, 2021

Hawkins opened Muscle Shoals Sound along with Barry Beckett, Jimmy Johnson and David Hood in 1969. And despite the name, the studio is actually located in Sheffield. The group worked together earlier at FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals.

According to our news partners at Times Daily, Beckett died in 2009, and Johnson died in 2019, leaving Hood as the last remaining Swamper alive.

The funky sound that came from Hawkins and the rest of the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section brought artists from all around the country to the small town in Alabama. Hawkins’ drumming is featured on projects by soul legends Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett as well as Rod Stewart, Willie Nelson, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt and many more.

In 2016, Rolling Stone released their list of the 100 greatest drummers of all time. Hawkins was 31 on the list.

Today, musicians and music fans still flock to Muscle Shoals Sound at 3614 Jackson Highway to record and even tour the sacred studio.

There is no doubt fans will continue to turn on hits such as Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” and Bob Segar’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” and think of Hawkins.

My personal favorite? “Land of 1,000 Dances” by Pickett. Turn it on, crank it up and remember the legacy Hawkins leaves behind.

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