Nashville session bass ace Mike Chapman has passed away after battling an aggressive form of cancer. He was 63 years old.
Chapman was an absolute staple of country music. Born in Alabama, he began his career playing in nightclubs “6 nights a week, 5 sets a night for the biggest part of a decade,” his biography states. He decided to get into recording as a session musician in legendary Muscle Shoals, though it didn’t turn out how he expected.
“Even though in the 60s and 70s Muscle Shoals was a busy place for recording pop and R&B, by the early 80’s artists had almost completely quit coming to there to record,” he told Eric Normand in an interview. “There were very few master sessions being recorded and when they were it was either at Muscle Shoals Sound (who had their own in-house band of fantastic musicians…The Swampers…who were the owners of the studio) or it was at FAME studios and producer/studio owner Rick Hall would call studio musicians from Nashville to play.”
This led the bassist to make the move to Nashville himself. It was there that he worked with the biggest names in country music: Martina McBride, Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Chesney, George Jones, Craig Morgan, Rodney Atkins, LeAnn Rimes, Hank Williams, Jr, Keith Whitley, and Vern Gosdin, just to name a few. He is probably best known for working on every Garth Brooks album including the smash hits “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places”, “The Thunder Rolls”, and more. All told, he played on over thirty #1 singles and over 160 million albums sold.
He was honored with many accolades in his career, the final being an induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Hear some of the legend’s wisdom here:
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mike Chapman.