Stax Records, based in Memphis, Tennessee, emerged as a seminal force in the history of American soul music. Founded in 1957 by siblings Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, the label initially operated as Satellite Records before adopting the Stax name in 1961 by combining the first two letters of the founders' last names. Stax Records became renowned for its unique sound, often referred to as the "Memphis soul" or "Stax sound," characterized by raw, gritty and emotionally charged performances. The label's racially integrated house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, played a pivotal role in shaping this distinctive sound. Stax achieved notable success with artists like Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, whose recordings epitomized the label's commitment to authentic, soulful music.
In the 1960s, Stax Records became a major player in the soul music scene, producing numerous hits and contributing to the cultural and social changes of the era. However, financial struggles and business disputes led to the label's eventual downfall in the mid-1970s. Stax filed for bankruptcy in 1975, marking the end of an era. Despite its challenges, Stax's impact on soul music endured, and the label's catalog remains influential, with its artists and recordings celebrated for their contribution to the evolution of American music. The legacy of Stax Records lives on through its timeless soul classics and the recognition of its role in shaping the sound of an era.
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Here are a couple of our favorites from Stax!