In Memoriam: Roger Hawkins, 75, drummer for ‘The Swampers’

Roger Hawkins

In 2006, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where the Muscle Shoals Rhythm section recorded hundreds of hit records, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Image taken in 2007 by dailynetworks, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (AP) — Roger Hawkins, the original drummer for the studio band immortalized as “The Swampers” in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” died on Thursday.

Hawkins, who was 75, died after an extended illness, said Ana Hyde, studio and operations manager at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

Hawkins was the drummer for the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as “The Swampers.” He was a founder of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, along with his partners, Jimmy Johnson, David Hood and Barry Beckett.

A Facebook post from the studio paid tribute to Hawkins, whom record producer Jerry Wexler called “the greatest drummer of all time.”

“We love you Roger. Rest in Peace and watch over us as we are all better for having known you. We will think of you as we listen to your many hits including, “Respect Yourself,” “Mustang Sally,” “When A Man Loves A Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “I’ll Take You There” and so many more,” the post read.

Roger played on hundreds of hit recordings. His session credits include sessions with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Bob Seger, Clarence Carter, The Staples Singers, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Winwood, Otis Redding, James Brown, Etta James, Levon Helm, Alicia Keys and many more.

He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2008. Roger was known for his caring spirit, his quick wit, and his unwavering passion for perfection.

Hawkins is survived by his wife, Brenda Gay Hawkins; a son, Dale Allen Hawkins, (Jackie); his stepdaughter Lesley Camille Ballance (Collin); a granddaughter, Kristen Hawkins; and grandson, Derek Hawkins. He was preceded in death by his father, John Hawkins, and his mother Merta Rose Haddock Hawkins.

Hawkins’ funeral was held in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on May 24. Those wishing to remember Roger Hawkins may make a donation to the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation or the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.


Click to read about Muscle Shoals music producer the late Rick Hall.

Catherine Saunders-Watson contributed to this report.

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