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René Joseph Hall (September 26, 1912 ‒ February 11, 1988)[1] 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.

René Hall
Birth nameRené Joseph Hall
Born(1912-09-26)September 26, 1912
Morgan City, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedFebruary 11, 1988(1988-02-11) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresSoul, rock
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
Associated acts


An African-American,[2] 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' .[3] 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.[4]

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.

He also plays guitar on Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and did a lot of work for Bobby Womack.

René Hall died of heart disease in Los Angeles, California at the age of 75.[5]

Selected discographyEdit

Artist Date Song title Highest position on US charts Hall's role
The Dominoes[6] 1951 Sixty Minute Man #17, #1 R&B chart Guitar, arranger
Don and Dewey[7] 1957 Sweet Talk
Farmer John (take 1)
Just a Little Lovin’
The Letter
Leader, guitar
Larry Williams[8] 1957 Short Fat Fannie #5 Guitar
Larry Williams[8] 1957 Bony Moronie #14 Guitar
Sam Cooke[9] 1957 You Send Me
b-side, Summertime
Conductor, arranger
Larry Williams[8] 1957,
Iko Iko
Lawdy Miss Clawdy,
Slow Down,
Dizzy Miss Lizzy,
Bad Boy
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[10] 1959 Hippy Hippy Shake Danelectro bass guitar
Sam Cooke[9] 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[11] 1962 ‘’Darling, Come Back Home’’
’’I’ll Make It Alright’’
’’I’ve Got a Girl’’
"Session leader"
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


  1. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 170. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  2. ^ Scherman, Tony, Backbeat: The Earl Palmer Story, forward by Wynton Marsalis, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1999 p.123
  3. ^ Howard Rye. "Hall, René". In Deane L. Root (ed.). Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
  4. ^ "Who Played On 'La Bamba'?". Lost & Sound. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  5. ^ Talevski, Nick (2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 238. ASIN B003FV7G3A.
  6. ^ Talevski, Nick, Knocking On Heaven’s Door, Omnibus Press,London. 2006
  7. ^ Don & Dewey: Jungle Hop, Legends of Speciality Records, Speciality Records 1991 liner notes
  8. ^ a b c Larry Williams: Bad Boy The Legends of Specialty Records, Speciality Records 1989, liner notes
  9. ^ a b "Soulful Detroit: SAM COOKE SESSION DATES".
  10. ^ Ritchie Valens , "Ritchie Valens in Come On. Let’s Go" Del-Fi Records, liner notes
  11. ^ The Valentinos, Lookin’ For a Love; The complete SAR recordings, CD, ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., 2014, liner notes

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