June 12, 2009 — Barry Beckett, a keyboard player who helped shape the sound of 1990s country by producing such acts as Kenny Chesney, Lorrie Morgan, Neal McCoy and Hank Williams Jr., died this week at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., according to The Florence Times Daily in Alabama.
Barry first came to prominence playing keyboards with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, referred to as the "Swampers" in Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama." He contributed as a musician to numerous songs that left a mark on pop culture, including Paul Simon's "Kodachrome," Mel & Tim's "Starting All Over Again," Bob Seger's "Mainstreet," the Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself" and Willie Nelson's "Bloody Mary Morning."
As a producer, he directed such pop hits as the Sanford-Townsend Band's "Smoke Of A Distant Fire" and Mary MacGregor's "Torn Between Two Lovers" before shifting into country music during the=2 0late 1980s, becoming one of Nashville's in-demand record makers. He oversaw more than 50 country hits, including Neal McCoy's "No Doubt About It," Confederate Railroad's "Trashy Women," Alabama's "If I Had You," Hank Williams Jr.'s "Born To Boogie," Eddy Raven's "I'm Gonna Get You," Kenny Chesney's "Me And You" and Lee Roy Parnell's "Love Without Mercy."
As a member of the Swampers, Barry was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame during a Nashville event last October.
"Somewhere tonight, someone listens to their favorite song," said Kenny in a statement from his publicist. "Maybe on the radio, maybe on satellite, maybe on CD or vinyl. Odds are, Barry Beckett is playing piano. He produced my first two albums. He taught me, inspired me, made me reach for more. He was one of the first to ever believe in a kid from Knoxville, Tennessee who used to sit out in the backyard in the middle of the night and stare at an open sky, knowing that there was something more. I loved him. I will take Barry everywhere! I always have and I always will. He taught me to put a smile in everything. That's important in life and especially to those of us who have music in our lives, who are consumed by it. My life is consumed by it and Barry Beckett is to blame and I am forever grateful!"