Jimmy Hughes was born in Alabama in 1938, and as a teenager sang in a gospel group called The Singing Clouds. In 1962 he auditioned for producer Rick Hall at his FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals. Hall was impressed, and they released the single "I'm Qualified", but it failed to chart, and so Hughes returned to his day job.
He returned to Hall in 1964 with his own ballad "Steal Away", and they recorded it in one take. The song was destined to be a Southern soul classic, and when Hall and Dan Penn promoted the song around radio stations in the South it rose to #17 on the national pop chart. A little masterpiece, it also represented the signature Muscle Shoals sound, and helped FAME Records get a national distribution deal with the Vee-Jay label. Hughe's next single was a cover of James Brown's "Try Me", which got to #65.
The Steal Away album followed, an excellent collection of Southern soul gems, featuring among other songs versions of the R&B standards "A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues" and "Stormy Monday".
|> Why Not Tonight? (1967)
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