As an integral part of the Memphis/Muscle Shoals studio bands of the late '60s, organist Spooner Oldham made a definite mark on the sound of soul music.
Starting as a piano player in high school bands, when Oldham graduated and began studying at the University of North Alabama, he quickly found himself skipping classes in favor of hanging around Rick Hall's FAME studios in nearby Florence, Al. After adding the ghostly organ sound on Percy Sledge's runaway hit "When a Man Loves a Woman," Oldham became a member of Rick Hall's ace studio band alongside guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist Junior Lowe and drummer Roger Hawkins. Together the unit played on landmark albums by Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin among others. Defecting to Memphis in 1967, Oldham teamed up with singer Dan Penn at Chips Moman's American Studios, and the duo developed into one of the best songwriting partnerships in music. Together the two wrote hits for Aretha Franklin ("Do Right Woman") and the Box Tops ("Cry Like a Baby") among others as well as having their songs appear as album cuts on artists such as Janis Joplin ("A Woman Left Lonely"). After the trailblazing days of southern soul came to an end, Oldham took his considerable talents elsewhere, adding piano and organ to such acts as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne and the Everly Brothers. He remains a respected figure among music aficionados not only for his tasteful keyboard playing, but for his songwriting as well. ~ Steve Kurutz, Rovi