wattstax.com Jesse Jackson introduces Isaac Hayes - "Black Moses" - at the 1972 Wattstax concert.
Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion
By Robert Gordon
It's a story that any novelist or screenwriter would find fantastical. A white, middle-aged banker and part time country music fiddler with a hankering to get into the music business convinces his older sister (and her skeptical husband) to mortgage their house so he can open a recording studio.
Then, the pair buy an abandoned movie theater in a downtrodden area of blacker-than-black Memphis, build said studio, and also an in-house record shop. And from that studio come some of the most treasured music of the '60s and '70s, heard around the world.
Stax Records (from the names of the banker/fiddler Jim STewart and sister Estelle AXton) would ultimlately put its name on some 800 singles and 300 albums from 1960-1975, launching the careers of dozens of performers including Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Booker T. and the MG's, Isaac Hayes, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Sam and Dave, Luther Ingram, Albert King, The Staples Singers, the Bar-Kays, and many, many more.
The more polished and palpable Motown may have called itself "Hitsville, U.S.A.," but there was no mistaking the meaning when Stax put up the proclamation "Soulsville, U.S.A." right on the old theater's marquee.More »