Dick Cooper- This is the best picture I ever took


“I worked for a newspaper and the first time I went to FAME studio it was like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. It opened it and all of the stories started crawling out. The music business interested me and I started writing about it and taking pictures and Jerry Wexler, the producer for Atlantic Records, took me under his wing. This picture of Jerry and Willie Nelson and is the best picture I ever took. It is in the 150th anniversary of Smithsonian, on the cover of Wexler’s book, and it is in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. I suggested that they swap hats to give them something to do while I changed the film in my camera and it worked. I took four shots. Jerry is holding a Pilsner beer while standing in front of the studio which was in a dry county at that time. Levon Helm is one the most fabulous people I ever worked with. Bob Dylan went to Muscle Shoals twice, for Slow Train Coming and Saved. He was really reserved the first time because he had bad publicity about becoming a Christian. The trick for the Muscle Shoals musicians was to be simplistic and don’t play more than you need to play. Stay out of other people’s way and keep the rhythm going. It is amazing how they can’t stamp out this music in Muscle Shoals and it keeps going on, it has had some dips, but it never died. It is still a wonder to me how it all fell into place. It keeps going back to the people involved.”


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