Mabon 'Teenie' Hodges, Memphis Soul Songwriter & Guitar Great, Dead at 68

Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, a singer, songwriter and guitarist who played a significant role in shaping the sound of Memphis music, has died due to complications from emphysema. He was 68. 

Born June 3, 1946 in Germantown, Tennessee, Hodges was always bound to find his place in a group; he was one of 12 children. He would be nicknamed “Teenie” due to his diminutive size, though his style and gregarious personality more than made up for his lack of height. 

Hodges was playing guitar in bands by the age of 12, and soon after took his place alongside his siblings in the Impalas. He joined Willie Mitchell’s Hi Rhythm in 1965 and played on numerous recordings for the Hi Records soul label through the 1960s and 70s. During Hi Records’ heyday, he wrote or co-wrote plenty of Al Green's R&B hits including "Here I Am", "Full of Fire," "Take Me to the River" and "Love and Happiness". In 1976, Hodges took vocal duties on Hi Rhythm's album, “On the Loose.” He worked on tracks for Syl Johnson and performed on Ann Peebles’ timeless “I Can’t Stand The Rain.” 

"It's a huge blow to Memphis music," Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, a longtime family friend and grandson of Mr. Hodges’ mentor, the late producer Willie Mitchell, told The Commercial Appeal. "Teenie was an icon as a songwriter and guitarist. Guitarists all around the world loved and imitated his playing. But Teenie... man, he was one of a kind."

All told, Hodges’ career spanned half a century. His musical partnerships were anything but predictable. In 2005, Hodges teamed with Cat Power and her Memphis Rhythm Band on “The Greatest” and in recent times, he has joined forces with the likes of Sam Moore, Boz Scaggs, Mark Ronson, and his nephew, Drake.

Hodges was the focus of the 2013 documentary “Mabon 'Teenie' Hodges: A Portrait of a Memphis Soul Original,” and he featured in this year’s Memphis music documentary "Take Me to the River."

Hodges died June 22 at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.