Norbert Putnam, a bassist-producer who has worked with some of the biggest names in popular music, spoke to University of Southern Mississippi School of Mass Communication and Journalism students in the school’s recording industry program about his experiences in and knowledge of the music industry Friday, Jan. 24 during a master class on the Hattiesburg campus.
Putnam is serving as a distinguished lecturer in the school’s recording industry program, visiting the university on a regular basis to conduct master classes for the school’s students. His professional career began when he was a teen as part of the original Muscle Shoals rhythm section, which played on a slew of Top 40, rock, folk and R&B recordings. In 1970, he began to play with Elvis Presley, with whom he worked until Presley’s death in 1977.
In 1970 he and Muscle Shoals drummer David Briggs opened Quadrafonic Studio in Nashville, where artists including Neil Young, Joe Walsh, Dan Fogelberg and Michael Jackson recorded successful albums. After producing Joan Baez’ hit, “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down,” Putnam became the primary producer of folk rock artists for Columbia Records.
In 1977 he produced Southern Miss alumnus Jimmy Buffett’s breakthrough album, Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude, which included “Margaritaville,” one of the most successful singles ever released in America.
The School of Mass Communication and Journalism offers bachelor’s degrees in recording industry production and management along with undergraduate degrees in advertising, journalism and media production. About 150 students are enrolled in the recording industry program, which is headed by Paul Linden. For more information about the school and its programs, visit www.usm.edu/mcj.