Norbert Putnam
Putnam in 2014
Putnam in 2014
Background information
Birth nameNorbert Auvin Putnam
Born (1942-08-10) August 10, 1942 (age 80)
Florence, Alabama, United States
GenresRock, pop, country
Occupation(s)Record producer, musician

Norbert Auvin Putnam (born August 10, 1942) is an American record producer and musician.[1][2][3][4]

Putnam grew up near Florence, Alabama and was part of the Muscle Shoals musicians brought to Nashville to play for Elvis Presley in 1965.[1] Putnam worked there as a bassist on recording sessions with Presley,[1] Roy Orbison, Al Hirt, Henry Mancini, Dan Fogelberg, Linda Ronstadt, J. J. Cale, Tony Joe White, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Michael Card, Ian & Sylvia and Bobby Goldsboro. On the Elvis recording of "Merry Christmas Baby", Putnam is referenced by Elvis, when he calls "Wake up Putt".

As a producer, Putnam was responsible for copious work on Nashville's non-country music output from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. His credits include major works that established the popularity of performers such as Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez, Dan Fogelberg, Michael Card, Brewer & Shipley, Pousette Dart Band, Donovan, John Hiatt, J.J. Cale, the Flying Burrito Brothers, John Stewart and the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Putnam was instrumental in the wave of modernization of many recording studios in Nashville, and laid the groundwork for the city's growth and widening its appeal to pop/rock artist and virtually all other styles of music.

Early life

Putnam's father played in a family band as a young man and when son Norbert was growing up, an upright bass was in the household.[5] In his mid-teens, Putnam played bass in a band in Florence with other teenagers David Briggs and Jerry Carrigan. The boys were too young to drive then and Carrigan's father drove them to engagements.[6] After a couple of years they were hired by Tom Stafford, Rick Hall and Billy Sherrill to make demo recordings for a publishing company. In doing this, they learned how to work as a team to create arrangements for new songs. Putnam and his bandmates later followed Rick Hall to work at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals and served as the rhythm section for hit records by Arthur Alexander, Tommy Roe and The Tams.[7] The success of these recordings drew the attention of the entire recording industry to the previously unknown and out-of-the way studio.[8] Putnam, Carrigan and Briggs were subsequently recruited by prominent music producers to move to Nashville, about 125 miles north. The three musicians left Muscle Shoals simultaneously to pursue separate careers in Nashville . Their replacements in Muscle Shoals became the second generation of the "Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section" nicknamed "The Swampers".[6] Putnam was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2019. His book, Music Lessons Vol. 1: a Musical Memoir, was published in early 2017.[6]

Personal life

After a long career in Nashville, Putnam moved to Florence, Alabama, near his birthplace. In 2015, Putnam and his wife Sheryl purchased a nineteenth-century mansion there known as "Thimbleton" which they sold in 2019.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Kelly, Neil (11 September 2013). "For Ol' Times Sake: An Interview with Norbert Putnam About Elvis". PopMatters.
  2. ^ Rick Clark."Norbert Putnam." 1 November 2000. Accessed 1 October 2007.
  3. ^ Dan Daley. "Producer: Norbert Putnam – The Other Side Of Nashville." September 2003. Accessed 1 October 2007.
  4. ^ Robert McFarland, Jr. "Norbert Putnam." Delta Business Journal. November 2004. Accessed 1 October 2007.
  5. ^ Del Fiorentino, Dan (July 11, 2013). "NAMM Oral History Program/Norbert Putnam Interview/2013". National Association of Music Merchants. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Putnam, Norbert (2017). Music lessons : a musical memoir. Vol. 1. Nashville: Thimbleton House Media. ISBN 978-1-61850-090-8.
  7. ^ "The Nashville Musician Interview: Norbert Putnam". The Nashville Musician: The Official Quarterly Journal of the Nashville Musicians Association AFM Local 257. July 1, 2011. p. 15. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  8. ^ Lewis, Randy (January 2, 2018). "Rick Hall, the father of the Muscle Shoals sound, dies at 85". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  9. ^ Schwartz, Seth (September 24, 2021). "An Alabama Couple Returns to Hometown Splendor". No. Vol. 278. No.72. The Wall Street Journal. p. M–1 (Mansion).