Muscle Shoals session guitarist Jimmy Johnson, one of the legendary “Swampers,” dead at 76

Music News

Robin Marchant/Getty ImagesGuitarist Jimmy Johnson, who played on a jaw-dropping list of memorable records as part of the soulful Muscle Shoals, Alabama musical collective known as “The Swampers,” died Thursday at the age of 76.  “The Swampers” were famously name checked in Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s signature tune “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Johnson’s son Jay announced his father’s passing on his Facebook page, writing, “He is gone. Playing music with the angels now.”

Johnson started working at Rick Hall‘s FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals during the early 1960s, and by the middle of the decade, he’d become a regular session musician at the facility. During his years at FAME, he played on classic records by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge, among many others.

In 1969, Johnson and other members of “The Swampers” opened their own recording facility, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, in nearby Sheffield, Alabama, and christened themselves the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Jimmy continued to play guitar on recordings by a wide variety of artists, while also frequently serving as a producer and engineer.

Among the many well-known musicians Johnson worked with at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Staple Singers, Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, James Brown, Art Garfunkel, Willie Nelson, Dr. Hook and Eddie Rabbitt.

You can check out a lengthy list of recordings to which Johnson contributed at

In 1995, Johnson was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame as a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. He also served on the board of the institution.

Jimmy was prominently featured in the acclaimed 2013 documentary Muscle Shoals, which told the history of FAME Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and “The Swampers.”

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