All over the world in the 50’s, millions of kids experienced a musical earthquake of the highest magnitude. This earthquake came from the rich musical soul of a changing and growing America. That soul, that passionate emotion, was, and still is, rooted in songs, rhythms, and melodies from around the world: Negro Spirituals, Latin and African rhythms, Gospel Music, the Blues, Country Western and Jazz. These penetrating, honest sounds and rhythms fused and matured to become Rhythm and Blues (R & B), Rock ‘n Roll, Soul Music, Blue Eyed Soul and later Psychedelic Rock, Funk, Disco, Pop, Rap, Hip Hop, Christian Rock ‘n Roll and the list is still growing.
How many 45’s (records) did you have in high school? The Rock ‘n Roll Stars who made those 45’s are now Rock ‘n Roll Legends. Who was your favorite dancing partner in high school, in college? How many 33 1/3 LP’s (albums) did you have? What does LP mean? First we had monaural or mono recordings, then stereo, and then multi-track recordings. Did you have a “Stereo System”? When did you get your first portable transistorized radio? When you went cruisin, or like I told my dad, “Just riding around”, which AM music station did you listen to on your car radio? What make car did you buy that had your first AM/FM stereo car radio? Remember 8 track tapes? The cassette came next. Then, the game changer appeared, the CD. CD’s revolutionized virtually everything. How many CDs do you have now? During all these improvements to perfect the quality of sound reproduction, this music persisted; it still persists. Did your parents ever say to you something like, “How can you listen to that stuff?” Or, “It’ll never last.” Or maybe, “Just sounds like a lot of screaming and hollering to me.” This music makes endless memories and smiles, and always will, even for our parents.
The most profound influence on Rhythm and Blues (R & B), Soul Music, Rock ‘n Roll, Funk, Disco and all the other music venues we listened to, during this earthquake, was the STAX RECORD CO., in Memphis, Tn. The STAX RECORD COMPANY’s influence is, to this very day, still heard. I’m not going to list all the artist STAX produced records for, but even a short list is more than astonishing: ISAAC HAYES-THE THEME FOR THE MOVIE SHAFT, IT WON THE 1972 OSCAR FOR BEST ORIGINAL SONG, RUFUS THOMAS-WALKIN THE DOG, SAM & DAVE-SOUL MAN, OTIS READING-SITTIN ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY, BOOKER T. & THE MG’S-GREEN ONIONS, PERCY SLEDGE-WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMEN, THE BLUES BROTHERS-FORMED BY DAN AYKROYD AND JOHN BELUSHI, WILSON PICKETT, “THE WICKED MR. PICKETT”-IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR & MUSTANG SALLY. I could list many many more. I must include in this list 2 very special guys, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love; when they blew their horns you’d swear there were 10 guys blowing. They are the MEMPHIS HORNS. Their sound is recognized and loved by artists around the world. Thousands also indulged in The STAX MUSIC influence at the life altering WOODSTOCK phenomenon. Actually, my statement “profound influence” is an understatement.
A visit to the STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC is in Memphis, Tn. will let you see, feel and hear where all these wonderful sounds and emotions came from. To paraphrase a saying from the 50’s and 60’s, The STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC is “A HAPPENING”
This high energy, honest, intense music with all it’s memorabilia is not owned by a museum, a curator, or any hall of fame, or the bands and singers, or the people who helped make this music. It belongs to the whole world; the kids, the teenagers, the adults and all the other souls who have enjoyed this fun to dance to music. All this music, its reflections of the times, its legacy, is like a clear blue sky; it belongs to whoever is enjoying it at the time.
Sooner or later, the music you and I grew up with and danced to, regardless of how the years pass, will become our “Oldies but Goodies”. I hope your “Oldies but Goodies” give you all the fun and great memories that my “Oldies but Goodies” give me.
Whenever, or wherever, you hear one of your songs, from whatever time or place, it’s always like an old friend stopping by for a visit; it makes you feel good for a little while, because the memories are true. Best of all, you know it will not be the last visit.
Thank GOD for HIS wonderful gift of music and the brilliant souls who continue passing on the gift.
That was then, and it’s also now.