Book Review: Bruce Schurman “Everybody Needs Love: The Life and Music of Eddie Hinton”

Austin Macauley Publishers, 2024

Everybody Needs Love Bruce Schurman's bookA humble attempt to shine a spotlight on a blue-eyed soul phenomenon.

Does anyone remember UB40 (feat. Chrissie Hynde) covering ‘Breakfast in Bed’  in 1988? It was written by Eddie Hinton with Donnie Fritts and first recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1969. Lucinda Williams shared the vocals with Fritts on his album ‘Everybody’s Got a Song‘. Fritts was just recently the focus of an Essentials feature. But Eddie Hinton wrote a shedload of songs too.

Eddie Hinton was there at the start when the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio opened for business in 1969. Session musicians, Beckett, Hawkins, Hood and Johnson had been working for FAME Recording Studios, but with support from Atlantic Records and Jerry Wexler, they decided to set up on their own. Session musician Hinton did not invest in the new studio but still contributed significantly to the Rhythm Section’s classic sound. The first recording session of note was Cher’s ‘3614 Jackson Highway’. Hinton is there on the album cover photograph, taken before the placement of the studio’s hallmark sign. Until recently, Hinton seems to have been almost left behind in that black and white photograph despite being one of Muscle Shoals’ most talented and innovative musical achievers. The Rhythm Section were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995. The Muscle Shoals Horns in 2016. Eddie Hinton was eventually recognised in 2018.

There have been some very determined admirers of Eddie Hinton willing to posthumously highlight his achievements. I bought this book having read ‘Where the Devil Don’t Stay’ by Stephen Deusner which was reviewed here. On the Drive-By Truckers 2011 album, ‘Go Go Boots’, they cover Hinton’s ‘Everybody Needs Love’. Patterson Hood, son of David Hood, said that Hinton’s solo debut, ‘Very Extremely Dangerous’ was one of his favourite albums. The Truckers had already recorded the song in 2009 for ‘Dangerous Highway’ (A Tribute to The Songs of Eddie Hinton) Vol.2. ‘Sandwiches For the Road’ on their 1998 album ‘Gangstabilly’ is also a tribute to Hinton. A documentary film called ‘Dangerous Highway’ was produced in 2007 but I’ve been unable to source a copy. And then there’s Zane Records here in the UK. Peter Thompson has been releasing Eddie Hinton’s work since 2000.

Last surviving member of the rhythm section David Hood, and Peter Thompson contributed background information and anecdotes to Bruce Schurman’s book ‘Everybody Needs Love, The Life and Music of Eddie Hinton’. You have to admire Schurman. After retirement, he discovered Hinton’s music and began researching his life. Finding scarce information and wanting more, he travelled South to Muscle Shoals to interview Eddie’s mother Deanie, surviving friends and musicians. Despite having no writing experience, this book is the result of that journey.

Early pages tell us that in 1965 Eddie Hinton was already seriously charting his course in music. He was in a band playing the bars and dances on the Gulf Coast. He chose not to return to university and told his mother that music was more important than anything else. Bands were always checking each other out. Johnny Wyker recalls a night after a gig when various band members were sharing a few beers. Young men typically sharing their hopes for the future. Atypically, when asked what he wanted to accomplish, Eddie Hinton replied, “make music and records that a black man would like and buy and not know it was a white man making the music.” As you read through the book you can’t help but think this ambition had a detrimental affect on Hinton’s quality of life. But back in 1965, Hinton was nicknamed ‘Eddie Bear’ because he was so young, cute and cuddly. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame uses a beautiful photograph of Eddie Hinton on his induction page. A talented, handsome musician with the optimism of youth. A time before the amphetamines, songwriter’s medicine, a volatile marriage, an unyielding stubbornness, dodgy personal hygiene, mental illness, obesity… and too many duffle bags full of picayunes, unfiltered cigarettes and Wild Turkey. Hinton proved very, extremely dangerous to himself.

Even if the reader is not enamoured by the man, or questions whether he sang with the “grit and soul of a black man,” nobody can fail to be impressed with his songwriting contributions and guitar playing on some legendary soul records of the time. Joyous tracks that stretch from Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, Otis Reading, Bobby Womack, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin to the Staple Singers. The chances are your playlist will be more soulful after reading this book. And a visit to the Poretta Soul Music Festival in Italy might be seriously considered. The story behind Hinton’s departure from Muscle Shoals Studio in 1971 up until his untimely, if not unexpected death at 51 is less joyful. Hinton’s early days are also sketchy and there’s a feeling a lot of things are left unsaid. Schurman can’t help but be subjective. After Jackson Highway, it seems Eddie Hinton was not captured on camera very often. The photographs made available to Schurman prove to be scarce. But the book successfully evokes a time and place.

The Truckers covered another Hinton and Fritts song: ‘Where’s Eddie‘. Lulu was the first to record that track back in 1970 at Muscle Shoals. Hinton, then a switched on session musician, offering it up in the hope of a songwriting credit and royalties. David Hood says, “Eddie knew who was coming into town and would sit down and write a song for them”. People that Schurman interviewed are more than willing to contribute information about Hinton’s songwriting, production and musical genius. They seem more reticent (is there a collective coyness?) when it comes to talking about the man. There’s a lot of pleasure exploring the music and artists mentioned in this book but an equal amount of sadness in the story. His mum does a good eulogy. “I chose not to put a label on Eddie other than guitarist, songwriter and singer, who was self-taught, worked hard with his God-given talents, and made contributions to Southern R&B while fighting his demons. If that’s good enough for Jerry Wexler, it should be good enough for anybody”. Patterson Hood sings on ‘Sandwiches for the Road‘ the poignant line “Nothing can hurt you but yourself.”

Schurman has written a fine tribute but at the end of this book you’re kind of still asking… Where’s Eddie?

But a good reason for a classic Drive-By Truckers’ clip.

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still reading it and working up a spotify playlist of songs he wrote and played on. so much good songs!


oh, I’ve got a bunch of those too and a lot of Eddie’s discography is not on streaming services of course!

Deryle Perryman

Nice job. Certainly a boon to Bruce’s book and fans of Eddie Hinton’s music.
Thanks for the review.

Moises Gonzalez and I spent five years making Dangerous Highway, a documentary about Eddie’s life and music.
It screened in various forms in film festivals across the US including NoisePop.
It remains the only film ever screened at the Porretto Soul Festival.
JIm Dickinson nailed it when he called it a “labor of love.”
We’d be honored if you’d review it.

All best, Deryle