image c/o invaluable Dylan resource Searching For A Gem
Keyboards player Barry Beckett, so significant a figure on Dylan's Slow Train Coming and Saved albums, would have turned 70 today (February 4, 2013). Here is his entry in my Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, updated to include the details of his death:
Beckett, Barry [1943 - 2009]
Barry Beckett was born in Birmingham, Alabama on February 4, 1943. He started his musical life as a pianist for a dancing school, but moved on to become a keyboards session player and eventually a record producer. He first became involved with Rick Hall’s Fame studio, on a session for James & Bobby Purify, and then replaced SPOONER OLDHAM in the Muscle Shoals band. He co-produced Mel & Tim and his later production credits include work with JOAN BAEZ, Joe Cocker, Etta James, JOHN PRINE, Delbert McClinton, Alabama, the Staples Singers and McGUINN-Hillman.
Beckett was co-producing with JERRY WEXLER when, in 1979, Dylan called on Wexler to produce the Slow Train Coming sessions in the Muscle Shoals studio in Sheffield, Alabama. Beckett not only co-produced the album but played piano and organ throughout. He did not go on the road as a gospel tours musician behind Dylan, but he was back in the studio with him in February 1980 to co-produce, again with Wexler, the album Saved, on which he was replaced on keyboards by Spooner Oldham and TERRY YOUNG after the session of February 12, 1980 and so does not play on ‘Saving Grace’, ‘Pressing On’, ‘In The Garden’, ‘Are You Ready?’ or ‘Covenant Woman’, but does play on the album’s title track and on ‘Solid Rock’, ‘What Can I Do For You?’ and ‘Satisfied Mind’. On the album liner notes Beckett is billed as co-producer and as ‘special guest artist’.
In 1985 Beckett moved to Nashville, working with Warner Brothers’ A&R department before running an independent production company. He was also a partner in BTM Records. He never worked with Dylan again after the Saved sessions. He died of natural causes at home in Hendersonville TN on June 10, 2009. He was 66.