Jack Hale - Nashville record producer feature - Part One



Very special thanks to Johnny Jaskot of Babblefish.com for his superb work in making this feature possible and to Jack Hale for sparing his valuable time.


Click to go back to the main Jack Hale page to watch parts Two and Three.

Jan 2006



Video One

Video Two

Video Three


Jack began watching recording sessions before ever playing a note, getting to know the main guys involved in those huge records recorded in Memphis at the time: Al Green, Box Tops, Elvis, Isaac Hayes, B.J. Thomas, Bar Kays and ZZ Top. "I had the contacts that would get me started in my career before I had one! Talk about fortunate!"


"At Christian Brothers High School, I was treated like I was going to be a professional musician, my uncle Ralph was the Band Director/music instructor, and actually everyone who was in his band got the same treatment!" The high school at that time had the highest percentage of graduates who went on to professional music careers in the country.

While attending the University of Memphis, Jack's musical instructors tailored his education toward commercial music – this was 15 years before commercial music degrees became available. "I chose U of M because I was able to get session work and do a lot of 'hanging' that I would not have been able to do elsewhere." Jack acknowledges that he was incredibly lucky to have such great teachers at the University . "I was taught classical composition and exposed to other music comp stuff – like jazz, arranging, current contemporary techniques, etc. I felt early on that producing was something to check into later in life, having watched Arif Mardin in Miami record the Memphis Horns on some Aretha Franklin/King Curtis classic stuff – he seemed to have more fun than anyone – and everyone was having a great time!" All this led Jack to choose music composition as his major and he learned how to engineer a bit later.


John Fry owned (and still owns) Ardent studio in Memphis and Joe Hardy (a legendary engineer in his own right) “gave me the keys” to the studio when it was not being used. "This was and still is one of the finest studios I have ever set foot in!" "My goal was to become as knowledgeable as I could about music, music theory, arranging, performing, etc. as well as the technical side of recording – both sides of the console, if you will. To me that is something a producer should bring to the table – the ability to write parts AND record them if need be." Jack jokes that Willie Mitchell could pick out any five guys off the street, hand them instruments and leave that afternoon with a hit record. "He can do it all - listen to the chords he wrote in 'Let’s Stay Together. He wrote the song and produced it. Listen to anything Mutt Lang has a hand in – what a creative musician! I had an inside track to the latest tech offerings like the Fairlight CMI, digital effects processing, MIDI, etc. Remember this was the early ‘70’s."


In 1977 Jack Hale became the “official” trumpet player with the Memphis Horns which led to great things, one of which that was touring with Johnny Cash. "He had a tour of California around 1980, and I had just found out the Memphis Horns were going to take a bit of a hiatus having been going really hard for so long. I got a call from his office to go on a 10-day tour, which ended up being about a 10 year run! During that time I also became his musical director and had the opportunity to do many things and meet some great people. I am the most fortunate guy on earth!"






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