The rise and fall of Memphis-based Stax Records remains one of the more compelling sagas in American popular music history. Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, renamed in 1961 by blending the surnames of brother-sister co-founders Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, Stax was Motown's funky Deep South counterpart. From its loose atmosphere came giants, including Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas and daughter Carla, Booker T and the MGs, Eddie Floyd, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Isaac Hayes, and the Bar-Kays. Recording in a converted movie theater, the earthy results were often as stunning and transcendent as anything from the equally loose Sun Records across town or Motown itself.
The only soul museum in the world, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located at the original site of Stax Records, pays tribute to all of the artists who recorded there with a rare and amazing collection of more than 2,000 interactive exhibits, films, artifacts, items of memorabilia, and galleries designed to keep Stax alive forever.
I believe a summer 2011 road trip is in order.