Memphis soul guitarist and songwriter Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, who had his greatest successes collaborating with Al Green in the early 1970s, died on June 22. He was 68.
Hodges passed away at Dallas’ Baylor University Medical Center due to complications from emphysema. He had previously been hospitalized with pneumonia shortly after performing at Austin’s SXSW festival last March.
As the co-writer of songs like “Love and Happiness,” “Take Me to the River” and “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” Hodges notched several enduring hits with Green, since covered by the likes of Talking Heads, Etta James, Tina Turner and UB40. Yet he was an established player for Hi Records long before that, serving as a keystone of the Hi Rhythm band.
Born in the Memphis suburb of Germantown, Hodges started playing guitar at age 12, gigging with his brothers Leroy Hodges and Charles Hodges before he fell under the sway of Hi Records producer and impresario Willie Mitchell as a teenager. Hodges, along with his two brothers, became indispensable elements of the label’s house band, playing on numerous seminal R&B records from the mid-’60s into the 1970s, including hits by Green, Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles and Otis Clay.
Hodges and the Hi Rhythm Section cut an album of their own, “On the Loose,” in the late ’70s. Years later, Hodges and a number of his veteran Memphis soul compatriots collaborated with indie rock singer Cat Power on her 2006 album “The Greatest,” which topped the Billboard independent album chart. Hodges was also the subject of Susanna Vapnek’s documentary “Mabon ‘Teenie’ Hodges: Portrait of a Memphis Soul Original,” which screened at SXSW in 2013.
Hodges was the uncle of Aubrey Graham, better known as multiplatinum rap star Drake.