Legendary Nashville Drummer Jerry Carrigan Dead at 75
Legendary drummer Jerry Carrigan, who played on some of the most classic country records of all time, has died at the age of 75.
The Alabama Music Hall of Fame reports that Carrigan died on Saturday (June 22). The Associated Press reports that he died in Chattanooga.
Carrigan was the most in-demand session drummer in Nashville at the height of his career in the 1970s, playing on a string of iconic recordings that includes Bobby Bare's "Marie Laveau," Waylon Jennings' "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today," Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors," Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" and many more.
The Alabama native began his career when he was just a teenager, playing with his friends David Briggs, who played piano, and Norbert Putnam, a bass player. They served as the band on some of the earliest of the now-legendary Fame Studios recordings that helped producer Rick Hall develop the Muscle Shoals sound.
All three would later move to Nashville, where they became part of an in-demand clique of session players known collectively as the Nashville Cats. Carrigan's career also included a stint as John Denver's touring drummer, while his career outside of country and soul music included playing on recordings from Al Hirt, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joan Baez, Wayne Newton and more.
Carrigan also played on a wide variety of commercial jingles and television and movie theme songs.
The musician was regarded as an innovator in the Nashville scene, helping to develop the "big fat drum sound" that became a staple of country music.
"I started playing real loose, deep-sounding snare drums on country records. Billy Sherrill loved it. So I started experimenting with different things, different kinds of drums," Carrigan recalled to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. "I bought the first set of concert tom-toms that were in Nashville. I think that's one reason the producers liked my sound. I had a different approach."
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored Carrigan with a 2009 exhibit as part of the Nashville Cats series. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame inducted the drummer in 2010.
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