David Briggs revisits his session work as a pianist in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and in Nashville, during this interview illustrated with vintage photos, recordings, and film clips. He also recalls his recording sessions with Elvis Presley.
Recorded on March 26, 2011, the program is part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Nashville Cats series, designed to spotlight musicians who have played important roles in country music history.
Briggs, who moved to Nashville in 1964 at age twenty-one, worked with Country Music Hall of Fame member Elvis Presley for twelve years, starting with the May 1966 recording sessions that produced pop hit “Love Letters.”
Some of David Briggs’s other major session credits include Barbara Mandrell’s “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” Kenny Rogers’s “You Decorated My Life,” Cal Smith’s “Country Bumpkin,” and Sammi Smith’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”
With Norbert Putnam, Briggs opened the legendary Quadrafonic Studios in 1969, and in 1980, Briggs started his own recording facility, House of David. His production credits include “Shotgun Willie,” a transitional 1973 album for Willie Nelson that remains cherished by fans. His bio also includes arranging, jingle writing, and performing with Area Code 615.
Briggs often declined playing road gigs to concentrate on studio musicianship, which frequently had him working sixteen-hour days spread across four different four-hour sessions, with little break in between.
“The advice the older musicians gave me was, ‘Don’t play TV shows, don’t go on the road, and don’t play the Grand Ole Opry, because they’ll assume you’re not good enough to play on records if you did that,’” Briggs says during the program, hosted by Bill Lloyd. He also shares memories of working with Chet Atkins, Bob Beckham, Owen Bradley, and Jerry Bradley, as well as fellow session pianists Floyd Cramer and Hargus “Pig” Robbins.
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