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René Joseph Hall (September 26, 1912 ‒ February 11, 1988) was an American guitarist and arranger. His best-known recording was the instrumental "Twitchy", which featured a single-string guitar (Unitar) lead played by Willie Joe Duncan, the instrument's inventor.
|Birth name||René Joseph Hall|
|Born||September 26, 1912|
Morgan City, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||February 11, 1988 (aged 75)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, arranger|
An African-American, born in Morgan City, Louisiana, Hall first recorded in 1933 as a banjo player with Joseph Robichaux in New Orleans. He then worked around the country as a member of the Ernie Fields Orchestra, with whom he made his earliest recordings. In the group he was known by the nickname Lightnin' . Later he joined Earl Hines as musical arranger. During the 1940s, he built up a considerable reputation as a session musician in New York City. In the late 1940s, he formed his own sextet which recorded for various labels including Jubilee, Decca, and RCA. He also worked as a talent scout for King Records, discovering such acts as Billy Ward and the Dominoes.
In the mid-1950s, Hall moved to Los Angeles, California, and began doing session work with famed saxophone player, Plas Johnson, and drummer, Earl Palmer. The trio recorded for many of the emerging rock and roll and R&B artists on such labels as Aladdin, Rendezvous, and Specialty Records. In 1958, he recorded the electric bass track using a Danelectro Baritone guitar on the Ritchie Valens hit, "La Bamba", with Buddy Clarke on the upright acoustic bass.
Throughout his career, Hall was the featured guitarist on such tracks as "Number 000" (Otis Blackwell), "That's It" (Babette Bain), "Cincinnati Fireball" (Johnny Burnette), "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (Ernie Fields), "In The Mood" (Ernie Fields), "Hippy Hippy Shake" (Chan Romero), and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams). He also released numerous recordings as both René Hall and the René Hall Orchestra.
Hall arranged some of Sam Cooke's best-known recordings including the 1964 song, "A Change Is Gonna Come", in which Hall devised a dramatic arrangement with a symphonic overture for strings, kettledrum, and French horn. He also prepared arrangements for many of Motown's most successful artists including The Impressions and Marvin Gaye. Rene also was an advocate for up and coming new groups. He came into Bill Withers' Tiki Studios in San Jose and worked out the arrangements for two of San Francisco's own Cordial Band. He arranged 'Wave' and 'A Special Love' written by Raymond Coats and Danny Dinio.
René Hall died of heart disease in Los Angeles, California at the age of 75.
|Artist||Date||Song title||Highest position on US charts||Hall's role|
|The Dominoes||1951||Sixty Minute Man||#17, #1 R&B chart||Guitar, arranger|
|Don and Dewey||1957||Sweet Talk
Farmer John (take 1)
Just a Little Lovin’
|Larry Williams||1957||Short Fat Fannie||#5||Guitar|
|Larry Williams||1957||Bony Moronie||#14||Guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1957||You Send Me
Lawdy Miss Clawdy,
Dizzy Miss Lizzy,
|Ritchie Valens||1958||La Bamba||#22||Danelectro, arranger|
|Ritchie Valens||1958||Donna||#2||Lead guitar & solo, arranger|
|Ritchie Valens||1958||Come On, Let’s Go||Guitar, arranger|
|Chan Romero||1959||Hippy Hippy Shake||Danelectro bass guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1957||(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons||#17||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1957||Desire Me||#47||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1957||You Were Made For Me||#39||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1958||“Win You Love For Me”||#22||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1959||Only Sixteen||#28||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1959||Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha||#31||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1959||God Bless The Child||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1959||Let's Call The Whole Thing Off||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1959||Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1961||Cupid||#17||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1962||Twistin' the Night Away||#9||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1962||Bring It On Home To Me||#13||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1962||Having A Party||#17||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1962||"Nothing Can Change This Love"||#12||Arranger, guitar|
|The Valentinos||1962||‘’Darling, Come Back Home’’
’’I’ll Make It Alright’’
’’I’ve Got a Girl’’
|Sam Cooke||1963||Another Saturday Night||#10||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1963||Little Red Rooster||#11||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1964||Tennessee Waltz||#35||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1964||A Change Is Gonna Come||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1964||That's Where It's At||#93||Arranger, guitar|
|Sam Cooke||1964||Shake||Arranger, guitar|
|Marvin Gaye||1973||Let's Get It On||#1||Arranger and conductor|
|Marvin Gaye||1973||Please Stay (Once You Go Away)||Arranger and conductor|
|Marvin Gaye||1973||If I Should Die Tonight||Arranger and conductor|
|Marvin Gaye||1973||Keep Gettin' It On||Arranger and conductor|
- Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 170. ISBN 978-0313344237.
- Scherman, Tony, Backbeat: The Earl Palmer Story, forward by Wynton Marsalis, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1999 p.123
- Howard Rye. "Hall, René". In Deane L. Root (ed.). Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
- "Who Played On 'La Bamba'?". Lost & Sound. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- Talevski, Nick (2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 238. ASIN B003FV7G3A.
- Talevski, Nick, Knocking On Heaven’s Door, Omnibus Press,London. 2006
- Don & Dewey: Jungle Hop, Legends of Speciality Records, Speciality Records 1991 liner notes
- Larry Williams: Bad Boy The Legends of Specialty Records, Speciality Records 1989, liner notes
- "Soulful Detroit: SAM COOKE SESSION DATES". soulfuldetroit.com.
- Ritchie Valens , "Ritchie Valens in Come On. Let’s Go" Del-Fi Records, liner notes
- The Valentinos, Lookin’ For a Love; The complete SAR recordings, CD, ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., 2014, liner notes