Sweet Soul may not sound! Behind the four letters that give the second most important Soul label ever the name, is a whole world hides. Some 50 years after the foundation is Stax fOr immortal hits, grandiose musicians for a piece of American pop history.
The list of artists who published at Stax, reads like a "Who's Who" of the Soul: Otis Redding, Sam Dave, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. The MGs, Eddie Floyd, Carla and Rufus Thomas, ...
The great rival Motown from Chicago complaining once the "Sound Of Young America" for themselves. Stax but the Southern Soul or Memphis Soul invented: funky guitar, dashing winds and driving beats, virile, vibrant and catchy. Soul for adults.
Closely related is the story of Stax Records with the Memphis, Tennessee - a place of pilgrimage! Memphis is the home of the soul, such as New Orleans is considered the cradle of jazz. Blues, gospel, RB, country and rock'n'roll - the musical godfather of soul music - they all have their roots in Memphis. Aretha Franklin was born there. Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley began her career on the club area of Beale Street. The first African-American radio station WDIA sent from Memphis.
Besides Graceland, the estate of Elvis Presley, heard the Stax Museum of American Soul Music to major attractions of the metropolis. In the parking lot is still the Cadillac of "Shaft" - the first commercially successful "blaxploitation" film whose soundtrack is one of the big hits in the repertoire of Stax.
The Story of Stax is primarily a story of the "triumph of the common man". Jim Stewart, born in 1930 in the small nest Middleton, Tennessee, wanted Country-Geiger and then made but rather as a bank clerk. The music does not let go of him, and he built in the garage of his in-law uncle of songs around. In 1957 he offered Sun Records (the label of Elvis and Cash) a number of them, without success.
To be able to buy an expensive tape machine, Stewart finally pumped to his sister, Estelle Axton, a teacher. Estelle took a mortgage on their house, and Jim got his machine. 1957 sent the Russians their Sputnik satellite into space, and probably inspired the sisters to call their label Satellite Records. Then they found out that there was a label with this name already. So they put together their last names: From the "St" from Stewart and the "Ax" from Axton was Stax Records.
Stax brought in 1957 Country Western plates out, but oriented towards the end of the 50s towards Rhythm Blues. At that time a new sound emerged: Memphis Soul or Sweet Soul. He was more elegant than the so-called "nitty gritty" -Soul the remaining South. He sounded simultaneously earthy than the emerging Motown sound from Detroit.
Stewart and Axton hired in 1960 an old movie, the Capitol at the corner of East McLemore and College (now there is the Stax Museum housed) for $ 150 per month.
The first local breakthrough had Stax with the father-daughter duo Rufus and Carla Thomas and "Cause I Love You". The single brought Jerry Wexler, the vice president of Atlantic Records on the plan that ausknobelte a Lizensvertrag with Stax and consequently much Carla Thomas' first real hit, "Gee Whiz" under the nail ripped.
But the Stax-siblings had reserves. Estelle Axton's son Packy founded the Mar-Keys, who landed a hit with "Last Night". A young pianist named Booker T. Jones, who lived in the neighborhood, asked the house band of Stax: Booker T. The MGs together. Their earlier track "Green Onions" is one of the instrumental classics of Stax catalog.
1962 made Stax a session with the singer Johnny Jenkins, who went off quite backward. As Jenkins gave up unnerved, allowed his driver, a 21-year old named Otis Redding to the microphone. The rest is history Soul. Shortly after, Jerry Wexler sent a duo called Sam Dave to Memphis to make it there once a "proper soul record" recorded.
With Otis Redding and Sam Dave was Stax first time to a large player in the American soul-Business. 1967 broke this world together. Warner Brothers bought Atlantic and took Sam Dave with. Even more tragically: Otis Redding and his backing band, the Bar-Keys, died in a plane crash.
Salvation came in the person of Soul-baritone Isaac Hayes, who previously Sam Dave had produced and played in the Stax house band. Hayes' debut album "Hot Butt Registered Soul" reached in 1969 triple platinum. It initiated a new era in orchestral Soul.
Even with the heartthrob Johnnie Taylor ( "Who's Making Love"), the Staple Singers ( "Respect Yourself") and the young actor Richard Pryor came Stax back to the top. 1972 organized the label a concert that made a "black Woodstock" history: 100,000 predominantly African American youth pilgrimage to "wattstax" according to Watts, the former site of severe race riots.
Stax vs. Motown
While the major competitors Motown in Detroit exclusively African attracted the stripping and the label it targeted America (white) pop audience, Stax was a (by whites led) multi-cultural company and had thereby the "blacker" sound. was in times where bitterly fought in the US for civil rights and racism still part of the sad life, the label with the snip fingers was already a flagship company in which the skin color did not matter.
By 1976, up to the bankruptcy of Stax, they were head to head. The hot duels between Stax and Motown (Booker T. The MGs versus The Funk Brothers; Otis Redding versus the early Marvin Gaye; Carla Thomas versus Gladys Knight; The Staple Singers versus The Supremes) drove America's Soul to creative excellence, to flights of fancy, the Disco finally ended.
By 1976, about 800 singles and nearly 300 LPs published by Stax. Nearly forty years later, in 2004, Concord Records bought the ailing reissue label. 2007 50th birthday Stax was officially re-launched. In addition to a careful work-up of the back catalog new albums for several years also appear again at Stax. Studio albums modern soul queens as Angie Stone or Lalah Hathaway belong, in addition to new plates of soul veterans like Eddie Floyd ( "Knock On Wood") and Leon Ware.
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