Who is . . .
Norbert Putnam ?
It was the summer of 1957, and 15-year-old Norbert Putnam was hunkered down with his father behind their garage in Florence, Alabama. Norbert had started playing bass in a local band and his father was dead set against it, so he had pulled his young son aside to reveal a dark secret from his past - he had once played that damned old bass in the Beale Street bars of Memphis. He recalled the shootings, gambling, wild women, reefer heads, dirty hotel rooms, lack of pay . . . all recited with tremendous gusto, in an effort to frighten young Norbert. He wanted to convince him to pursue the path to college and a normal, happy life. The young man tried to remain still in an effort to withhold his excitement as a visions of Memphis and music danced in his head. In spite of his father’s intentions, at that moment an opposite decision was made. Norbert Putman vowed, then and there, to devote his life to the pursuit of music. Fast forward almost 50 years, and Norbert Putman, after a sterling career, is still immersed in the business of music. He resides, once again, in Florence, Alabama with his lovely wife of 27 years, Sheryl, and their beautiful and devoted poodles, Sophie and Grace.
With the release this year of his memoir, Music Lessons, he looks back on a career unrivaled in its diversity. As a studio musician, he was one of the original Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section players, helping to create the famous Muscle Shoals sound and putting the small Alabama town on the map with the 1962 Arthur Alexander hit, “You Better Move On.” Backing up Tommy Roe, The Righteous Brothers and four other American acts, they opened for The Beatles when the lads played their first American concert on February 11, 1964 in Washington, D.C. After moving to Nashville in 1965, Norbert played bass on over 9,000 tracks with the likes of Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Henry Mancini, Al Hirt, Linda Ronstadt, JJ Cale, Tony Joe White, The Monkees, and many others.
He began his production career in 1970, and over the next 15 years produced more than 70 albums including multi-platinum productions for Jimmy Buffet, Joan Baez, and Dan Fogelberg. He, along with old pal David Briggs, also built the famous Quadrafonic Studios and developed Danor Music destined to become one of Nashville’s most successful music publishing firms. In 1980, Putman and Briggs ended their partnership and Putnam developed the 1875 Bennett House Studio in beautiful Franklin, Tennessee. A few years later, Putnam developed Digital Recorders and Georgetown Masters, some of the most respected “state of the art” recording studios in Tennessee. His prodigious projects broadened Nashville’s scope and paved the way for musicians of all genres to record in Music City.
Told with Norbert Putman’s affable storytelling style, Music Lessons is at once a warm and laugh-out-loud funny romp through music history, packed with stories about some of the greatest musicians in the business. Hopefully, his father would be proud.