Jerry Carrigan, a celebrated session drummer heard on famed Nashville recordings from Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers, died last week, according to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He was 75.
Raised on Fats Domino and Little Richard, Carrigan began his Music City career at age 13, cutting a Nashville session with Little Joe Allen and the Off Beats.
A native of Florence, Alabama, Carrigan spent his early adult years at the notable FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where he crafted a technique on sessions with early FAME breakouts Arthur Alexander and Jimmy Hughes.
In 1964, Carrigan played in the Muscle Shoals backing band that opened for the Beatles' first United States concert, at the Washington Coliseum in Washington D.C.
Carrigan moved to Nashville in 1965, quickly becoming a go-to session drummer with excellent timing and an irreplaceable “big, fat snare” sound.
It may be impossible to play through country music’s most notable tracks of the 1960s and 1970s and not hear Carrigan’s percussion work. His drums landed on Kenny Rogers' “The Gambler,” Jennings' track “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Middle Age Crazy,” Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” and the 1980 George Jones hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
The list continues, with Carrigan credited for work with Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton and numerous others.
The demand for Carrigan swelled in 1977, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame notes, where he’d be wanted for 12 sessions a week.
He wasn’t just sought after in country music, either. Carrigan laid down work in pop and folk music of the time, playing for Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis and Joan Baez. He also helped craft jingles, offering his experience to McDonald’s, KFC and Coca Cola, among others.
Carrigan tracked on John Denver’s famed 1981 album “Some Days Are Diamond,” opening a door to tour with the singer-songwriter from 1981 to 1989. He also shared the touring stage with Charlie McCoy, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Rivers and Ronny and the Daytonas.
The Country Music Hall of Fame honored Carrigan in 2009 as part of the ongoing “Nashville Cats” series; The Alabama Music Hall of Fame inducted Carrigan in 2010.
Carrigan died in Chattanooga of an unknown illness, the Times Daily of Florence, Alabama reported.