Born in Alabama in 1941, Dewey 'Spooner' Oldham began his music career playing piano in various high school bands. By the early 60s he was finding work as a session musician at Rick Hall's Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and quit college to pursue music full-time. He became the house keyboard player at Fame, playing on countless R&B records recorded there. His distinctive playing can be heard on hits such as Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" (recorded at Fame) and Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman" (recorded at the neighbouring Norala studio). When Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler brought Aretha Franklin to record at Fame in 1967, Oldham contributred the distinctive electric piano part on what turned out to be her breakthrough hit, "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)". He was invited back to New York for future Aretha sessions, and appeared on many of her subsequent hits.
As well as being kept busy with session work, Spooner Oldham developed into a talented songwriter whilst at Fame, mostly writing in partnership with Dan Penn. Songs they wrote together included hits such as James & Bobby Purify's "I'm Your Puppet", Percy Sledge's "It Tears Me Up" and Joe Simon's "Let's Do It Over", plus a myriad of lesser-known gems recorded by all sorts of R&B artists at Fame (demos of many of these songs, sung by Penn, can be heard here).
In 1967 Oldham left Muscle Shoals, following Dan Penn to work at Chips Moman's American Sound Studio in Memphis, where he continued to play keyboards and write. Penn/Oldham hits from this era include "Cry Like A Baby" by The Box Tops and "Sweet Inspiration" by The Sweet Inspirations. 1969 saw him leave Memphis and move to California, where he had no trouble finding work in the L.A. studio scene. He went on to play on records by artists including Gene Clark, Rita Coolidge, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Roger McGuinn, The Everly Brothers, and others...
A modest little Spooner Oldham solo album came out in 1972. His singing had never really been heard before, but he turned out to have quite a warm, likeable voice. Pot Luck featured a number of new songs, plus a cover of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", and a medley featuring a number of songs he had originally played on.|> Spare Change (1982)