Johnny Depp’s Company Developing Series Based on Music Documentary

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Johnny Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil is teaming with Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced and City Entertainment to develop a series based on the music documentary “Muscle Shoals.”

The Grammy-nominated doc celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and the signature sound he developed in songs such as “I’ll Take You There,” “Brown Sugar,” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The TV drama will go behind the music to tell the stories of Muscle Shoals that birthed the iconic “Muscle Shoals Sound” by exploring the rich and vast milieu of the segregated South through colorful characters, cultural and political history and Southern gothic settings.

The series will feature the original doc’s director and producer Greg Camalier, who will produce the television adaptation with Depp and Christi Dembrowski of Infinitum Nihil; Virgin Produced’s Branson, Jason Felts and Justin Berfield; and City Entertainment’s Joshua D. Maurer and Alixandre Witlin. Virgin Produced’s exec VP of production Rene Rigal will also oversee the project with Infinitum Nihil’s Bobby DeLeon.

“Greg’s film unearthed the poetic mysticism and inspired us to produce a series that utilizes music and narrative in a unique and ground-breaking way,” Felts said. “This provocative story about the rich region and pioneering artists that birthed the iconic ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’ fits in with Virgin’s music roots and provides an ideal opportunity to partner with Depp, Infinitum and City Entertainment.”

Dembrowski said: “‘Muscle Shoals’ is an extraordinary story in which, through adversity, some of the world’s most amazing music was created.  It is perfectly suited for Infinitum as it combines Johnny’s love of music and its history with our company’s creative mission to tell these stories.”

“Muscle Shoals,” released by Magnolia Pictures in 2013, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and received critical praise at film festivals including SXSW and Hot Docs.

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  1. David A. McMackin says:

    Interesting, informative comments. I had heard of John Wycker as a co-worker always pointed out a large boat in Decatur that was owned by the guy who wrote Motor Cycle Mama. The now famous 3614 Jackson Highway building is right behind my current office is located. My building was built by Quinn Ivy and must be the place where Percy Sledge recorded his classic, “When A Man Loves A Woman”. This building later housed several different businesses but still shows how the design might have been perfect as a recording studio.

  2. morganpryce says:

    Now THAT is a series I would watch!

  3. What amazes is me is how all the great music that came out of the 2nd Muscle Shoals Sound on Alabama Street in Sheffield got left out. When the Swampers moved to that huge historical bldg there were many years of music hits that came out of it, as Bob Segar, Bob Dylan the list is endless. For some reason this history was left out. Hopefully Johnny will include this undeniable history that happened for 30 plus years at the now Cypress Moon Studio. No one person should take credit for the Shoals Sound. My hats off to Rick Hall but lets get the history corrected this time please.

  4. Robert Barclift says:

    I’ll Take you There by the Staple Singers and Brown Sugar, along with Wild Horses, by the Rolling Stones were recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio on Jackson Highway in Sheffield; MSS was started by Rick Hall’s former rhythm section, Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Barry Becket and Roger Hawkins, aka “The Swampers” as referenced by Lynyrd Skynyrd in Sweet Home Alabama, who Johnson produced before anyone else did; MSS was initially financed by Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records, after Rick Hall’s debacle with Aretha Franklin (and her husband), whom Jerry brought to FAME to record with the Swampers, who included Duane Allman at the time. When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge was recorded at Quin Ivey’s studio in Sheffield. No argument that Rick Hall was the catalyst for major music being made and recorded in the Shoals, but I hope that Johnny Depp and company will get their facts straight. Look forward to watching!

  5. Other ones to credit for the inspiration of talent are the Shoal’s radio station owners who allowed young DJs to play any kind of music they wanted created by diverse musicians.

  6. Charlie Feldman says:

    Hopefully, this series will drill down a bit deeper than the great documentary which does have some important truths included. There were many who contributed to the huge legacy of Muscle Shoals Music and perhaps this series will weave its story to include many who made meaningful contributions: great engineers like Jerry Masters, Steve Melton, etc., musicians such as Eddie Hinton, Pete Carr, Clayton Ivey, Ronnie Eades, songwriters like Phillip Mitchell, George Jackson etc., producers/writers like Johnny Wyker, Marlin Greene, Quinn Ivy, Tim and Steve Smith, background singers like Ava Aldridge, publishers/songwriters like Terry Woodford and George Soule. It is unfortunate that journalists who report on these newsworthy events don’t have the knowledge to accurately tell us who created what recordings. Rick and his great rhythm sections did strike gold with Arthur Alexander, Wilson Pickett, Mac Davis, Bobbie Gentry, Paul Anka, Candi Staton and Jimmy Hughes, to name a few. And yes, Rick did have meaningful involvement in tracking Aretha’s first secular smash I NEVER LOVED A MAN as well as DO RIGHT WOMAN, DO RIGHT MAN. And yes. Rick did mentor Duane Allman. But please credit Barry, Roger, David and Jimmy with The Staples Singers’ I’LL TAKE YOU THERE and please credit Jimmy with engineering SWEET SOUL MUSIC at Fame and also with working closely with The Rolling Stones at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. And please credit this same excellent group of musicians, The Swampers, with their masterful muscianship and/or co-production of such greats as Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Lynryd Skynryd and Mel and Tim, to name. There was enough magic in Muscle Shoals to give credit where credit is due.

  7. mssjerry says:

    The signature sound Rick Hall claims HE created is a bunch of crap. The real Muscle Shoals Sound came from 3614 Jackson Hway by engineers Jerry Masters, Steve Melton and Gregg Hamm. Rick Hall had absolutely nothing at all to do the the songs, “I’ll Take You There,” “Brown Sugar,” nor “When A Man Loves A Woman.” Rick Hall paid someone to make the movie “Muscle Shoals,” and also he paid someone to write his book. He has done marvelous things for Muscle Shoals, but he’s taking credit for hit records that he had nothing to do with. He was just “one of the bunch.” I have not even seen HIS documentary that has gotten so much attention, nor do I care to, because it is not based on TRUTH. If you want to know the REAL truth, read my book, “Hanging From a Tree By My Knees,” the Jerry Masters Story. I worked for Rick when he made his biggest records, I also worked at Muscle Shoals Sound during the legacy we created during the 70s and 80s. The REAL Muscle Shoals Sound is a culmination of every studio in this music community. But we had the most success when Paul Simon came to our studio and found out we can cut hits on ANYONE. Don’t be deceieved by everything you see or hear. Rick Hall was just a SMALL part of our legacy.

  8. Ja'Net says:

    Congrats to my home town muscle shoals , Al – you rock with big ones!🎶

  9. Great news! Cannot wait! Wearing my Muscle Shoals t-shirt now! :-)

  10. I had the great fortune of being married to one of the Magical Men of The Muscle Shoals era. Johnny Wyker aka John D. Wyker , aka Sailcat. “Motor Cycle Mama Album.1972 He and I took in one of the session guitarists, Eddie Hinton, fed clothed and bought him his, Big Mouthed Sterling beers and Tampa Nuggets for a long time. Percy Sledge cut Eddies song, Cover Me. Dusty Springfield cut, Breakfast In Bed. These two were a BIG part of MSS. Johnny would pick up stars like Jo Cocker, Mick and Keith and take them to his family’s Shoal Creek Cabin where they would hang out and party for days Johnny had hit covered by Mavis Staples, Delbert MC Clinton, John Prine and the list goes on! I have many stories to share about these two MSS legends and can only hope that someone will listen! I have footage too and many pics. I am so glad that someone is choosing to further this Magical time in music. BTW did I mention that Gregg and Duane had the cabin across the lake?

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