- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (AP) - Dick Cooper has stories to tell and photos to share about the 40 years he has been involved in the Shoals music scene.

So Cooper, 69, is resigning as curator of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame at the end of this month to concentrate on several books he plans to release.

“I have a lot of stuff I’ve been putting on the back burner for the past couple years because of the hall of fame job,” he said.

Among the projects Cooper has planned are a coffee table book of photos from his years in the music business, a book about Barry Beckett Productions, a multimedia book about his time with the Drive-By Truckers, and an autobiography.

“Originally, I was going to do an overview coffee table book on Muscle Shoals music,” Cooper said. “The trouble with that is, I’ve got too much. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. I’ve got way too much to put in one book.”

Cooper said he has narrowed his photo choices by watching which photos people pay the most attention to at his exhibitions.

Cooper held the curator’s position for 5½ years under the hall of fame’s previous executive director, and stepped in to help the attraction on a couple of other occasions.

State Tourism Director Lee Sentell said he used a bit of old-fashioned arm twisting when he asked Cooper to help relaunch the Alabama Music Hall of Fame nearly two years ago. Sentell is also a member of the hall of fame’s board of directors.

Before Sentell approached Cooper, the hall had been closed for nearly a year, had its power turned off and was in jeopardy of being moved to another Alabama city.

The state tourism office stepped in to help it reopen amid the buzz created by “Muscle Shoals,” a documentary about the early days of the Shoals music scene.

“Dick provided a lot of valuable input during the last two years,” Sentell said. “He and I worked at the Decatur Daily in the 1960s before he moved to the Shoals to become a major player in the industry. When I offered him the position two years ago, I really didn’t give him a choice.”

Cooper said he wants to get some of his publishing projects completed while the buzz surrounding Muscle Shoals music is still strong.

For the Drive-By Truckers, Cooper wants to release a book with accompanying audio and video discs. The celebrated rock band was founded by Shoals natives Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley.

Cooper served as the band’s road manager from 2001-02, logging 72,000 miles in a Dodge van with the band and its gear.

He recalls a show in Florida in 2002 when the band opened for Southern rock legend Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“It was a 30-minute set that particular night,” Cooper said. “I was doing front of house sound, lights and selling merchandise. I was shooting video and changing strings for Cooley when he’d break a string. Considering I was a little busy that night, I set up a small tripod at the sound console and pointed it at the stage.”

He said there was just a handful of people between him and the stage before the band came on. The video shows more people trickling in little by little.

“None of the Skynyrd fans had seen the Truckers,” he said. “There were one or two heads, then a few more came in. All of a sudden, the band comes on stage and starts playing. Everybody isn’t sure what to make of them. They’re listening intently, but by the end of the set they’re all on their feet. It’s stuff like that I want to include.”

Cooper also has a mixed and mastered copy of the second album he recorded for the Shoals rock band Sons of Roswell. Unfortunately, the group disbanded before the album could be released.

“I am excited for him that he will be putting down on paper many of the great stories of what happened in the Shoals,” Sentell said. “He seems to have been one of the handful of unofficial historians of the music industry. We don’t need to let these stories get away. Thank goodness he is taking time to record them for the ages.”

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Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/

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