sl-prokeys was born April 5, 1995

Wes Garland: Webmaster

Speed Reader Page

VIDEO FILES are in Flash Player (.flv) format. Please install (free) VLC Media Player

AUDIO FILES are in .mp3 format.

designed for viewing at widescreen resolution - 24"monitor - 1920x1080

total sl-prokeys hits since April, 2003

On Thursday, August 21, 2003, at 2:45pm, my wife of 34 years, Rebecca, died in my arms in an emergency room.

The last words we spoke were in perfect synchronization: "I love you with all my heart."



Powerful Opinions


On this page are a lot of personal opinions

Regarding facts, some of them might be quite accurate, and some may be just one person's idea of how and why things were.

The Time Capsule

I'd like to come up with a "button" word to help clarify this .... something that would help us relate to "being there when it happened" and then instantly switching over to "thinking about it now".

Imagine you have a time capsule.  Right now, about 30 years after the facts, you've formed some opinions about the way the STAX sound was created, and why.  Imagine also that you could zoom backwards in time, to the actual day when this song or that was cut, and live that day yourself.

If you could travel backwards, you might try and tell everybody at STAX, "Wow guys!  You'd never believe how popular STAX music is gonna be in the year 2000!  Listen up - stay funky, hang in there, and don't change.  And hey, by the way, they're gonna invent something called the internet.  Yeah, it uses computers and modems and stuff.  STAX music is gonna go all over the globe, like magic."

Can you imagine the looks you'd get? 

Or maybe, think of this: you're sitting way up on a hill, overlooking a city.  From up here, this perspective shows you a certain view.  Now drive back down into the city.  Things look quite a bit different, now that you're standing right in the middle of it.

Nobody Knew

I hope you can realize that STAX's production department never had a clue that a certain segment of the world would be going crazy over old records that didn't sell worth a damn.  To quote myself: "who knew?"  Nobody at STAX could possibly know the future - facts that we know now - and make decisions to control or prevent these facts.

Q:  .... the recording equipment changed (thus the new sound) .....

I don't know if I could agree with that literally.  STAX was 8 track when I got there in early 1969.  Maybe a year or 18 months later, they were 16 tracks.  What I'm saying is - you couldn't necessarily tell the difference between a song cut on 8 tracks, or cut on 16.  The entire recording industry was growing at that time - going to newer, better, more elaborate equipment was inevitable.  Not only for STAX - for everybody.  Recording technique was steadily improving in Memphis, just like the rest of the world, and STAX tracks naturally improved in sonic quality, too.  Originally, Jim did a lot of the engineering - later, many different people engineered.  Some of what you might hear were guys engineering that were more educated, technical engineers.  That, of course, didn't change a single note played - but it could affect the way the sound was actually printed on tape.

Q:  .... overdubbing began?  Less and less live full in studio productions?

Hardly.  They were overdubbing for years - since before the 4 track days.  Live sessions (horns, rhythm, vocals) really didn't happen that much once the recording industry settled into multi track.  STAX, of course, did what the rest of the industry did - overdubs.  I'm in total agreement with those that believe the live sessions felt better .... yet there were many compelling reasons to stop that style of recording.  Overdubbing allowed much more freedom - mistakes could be fixed without everyone having to do "one more take", masters could be finished weeks later, when artists returned from live tours, the list could go on and on.  In any event, it's obvious that overdubbing became the de facto standard and still is, even today.

Q:  .... in the late blue label stages, the recordings definitely got cleaner.  I notice this most with the drums - Al's sound becomes even sharper, more treble, his wacks sounding for less time ...

You're right, and you have very good ears.  But this had to be - STAX had to keep up.  There was an entire record industry, and STAX was a part of it.  STAX couldn't keep on making records with older equipment and technology.  Push the "button" again, and you'll realize that STAX - just like anybody else - wanted to get right up even with anybody else in the record industry.  So if they had 16 tracks and JBL monitors, that was industry standard, and STAX had to go that way, too.

Let me add an important point here: I bought a pair of STAX's control room monitors - the old Seeburg boxes - when they changed over to JBL 4320s.  I sold them a year or two later and got JBL 4320s, which I still have and use.  You can bet your life they don't sound anything alike .... the JBLs are far, far, FAR cleaner, and don't have the overweight bottom end.  If nothing else at all changed at STAX, just changing to JBL monitors would have given anybody listening a whole different perspective on the sound of anything.  Control room monitors are the whole focus for reference.

Q:  .... check out "I Got a Sure Thing", "The Memphis Train", or "Hang Me Now".  But if anything, Al is hitting the snare HARDER, and playing with incredible energy and precision.

If you've been in sessions, you should agree - a lot of the perception above is relative to how the song was mixed.  And remixed.  And mastered.  This could happen a month (or three decades) after it was originally cut, and maybe halfway across the world.  For all I know, there's a 20 year old remixing STAX songs that were cut 10 years before he was born!  This makes me wonder if he's really into STAX music - I just don't think he grew up on soul. 

If the decision were mine to make, I wouldn't let anybody remix old STAX music except Steve, Duck, and Ronnie - with Jim present.  In addition, most of what we hear today is in a digital format - CDs hadn't yet been invented in the STAX days, (cassette tapes, either) and there is a world of difference between older analog reproduction and modern digital sound.  CDs are convenient, but you can't get that "round" "fat" old sound that way - you gotta have a phonograph.

Then there's another "element" .... some songs kinda kicked you in the butt.  Others didn't.  "Memphis Train" (and "C'mon Down To My House") happen to kick me in the butt.  (But "Minnie Skirt Minnie" just blows me away.)  I could imagine myself really getting into cutting these songs if I'd played on those sessions - which I didn't.  But the track "talks" to the players, and sometimes that just comes right thru.  I hope I'm making sense with this. 

On Mitch Ryder's album, there are 12 tracks.  One of them just slams you right away.  And it was cut on a first take.  That's what I'm talking about.  I haven't yet mentioned that - especially in soul music - the rhythm section is the whole foundation.  It's those rhythm tracks that everything else builds on top of.  The world's best vocals wouldn't have a chance if the rhythm tracks are lacking.

Q: .... Who decided, and how/why, to put STRINGS behind many songs?

The industry decided that.  At STAX, if strings fit the song, then strings should go on the song, if that's what the producer wanted.  Try and keep this in mind - we are relating to what we think of STAX music now, and we're judging what we think happened to the great old sound of the early days .... but we should also relate to what they thought they were doing back then.  See what I'm getting at?  We love the "old STAX sound", and reject the glossy, overproduced, "trying to be white and crossover" kind of music.  But STAX was trying to get HITS.  If this and that were working for Motown, you can be positive they tried it at STAX.  That included strings, on the songs that strings would fit.  Wah wah pedals were working for Motown - they appeared, like magic, at STAX, too.

Personally, I can do without strings for soul music.  But that's just one man's opinion, and I'm not selling millions of records OR trying to run an entire record company!  If it were up to me, we'd still have REAL soul music, and we'd still have great instrumentals, like in the days of the MGs.

If anyone knows how I can take complete control of the record industry, please forward that info to me right away.   Under my personal guidance, the market will change.  You have my solemn promise - there will be 90% more genuine Memphis soul music instantly

Q: .... Al's sound changes - it becomes less sharp and aggressive and is recorded less up front.

I believe this is, again, mostly in the way the track was mixed.  I don't think Al suddenly said one day: "STAX is changing.  The label logo is different now, so I'm gonna play differently from here on."

Q: .... Think of "Who's Making Love" or the Mad Lads first yellow LP.  His playing becomes less syncopated, softer, more on all four beats, has fewer fills.  It's as if someone had told him "ease back, the people out there want their whiskey diluted with water."

I played on the Mad Lads with Al producing.  NOBODY told Al to "ease back" -  these were HIS sessions, meaning he was in complete control of them.  Parts were always changing, sounds were always growing.  STAX was hungry for HIT records, and tried many, many ways to get them, on many different artists.  Remember, we have the "time capsule" today .... we can listen and judge in hours what took STAX over 12 years to create. 

The Mad Lads was a vocal group, and the focal point in their production would be showcasing their harmonies.  Al chose songs that went THAT way.  The Mad Lads weren't gonna do high power funky, rhythm and blues stuff - it wasn't "them", as artists.  Al played what their sound required, for those tracks.  And Al might be playing on a different artist's session the next morning, and fitting right into that one, too.  As far as my experiences with Al, he was simply the best rhythm and blues drummer on earth.  He made everybody around him play better.

When you put Don Davis in the studio ("Who's Making Love") - you have to understand that his perception of "production" was not Steve's .... and Johnnie Taylor was not Otis.  The song styles weren't similar, plus, the times at STAX had already changed .... what worked for Otis wouldn't necessarily work for Johnnie Taylor. 

On top of that, the MGs were slightly older, more mature and experienced, they weren't exactly kids anymore.  STAX had been stuck in the "medium record sales" syndrome for quite a long while - and they were overdue for some real hits.  Apparently, the combination worked with "Who's Making Love", and the record zoomed right into gold.

Q: .... So away he faded until he emerged with an entirely new saggy sound behind Al Green

I can't agree to "saggy".  Al Green's tracks were cut over at Hi studio, engineered by different engineers (not STAX's engineers), on totally different equipment, different mics, different set of drums, and mixed by Willie Mitchell.  Bottom line - they got a whole different sound over there, and had a slightly different concept of what "sounded right" for a final mix.

So that leads us to all music.  It's all subjective, and each person likes or dislikes many different things.  In one song, you may find several parts you like, and several you don't.  You might love a specific artist, and really dislike one of his albums.  It's all completely subjective.

Q: .... Was there pressure to "cross over" from Paramount?  From Al Bell?

I'm going to cop out of this one.  I'm not the definitive word on what was "wanted" or who might have made those decisions.  At STAX, I was just a staff session player - a nobody.  I had nothing at all to do with corporate decisions.  What I can say is this: like any other kind of business anywhere, anytime - STAX wanted to make more money.  And we know how that would be done.  By cutting more hit records.  So a lot of things were tried to attain that goal.  Different artists, styles, producers.  The search is ongoing, isn't it?

Q: .... Were the new ways pissing off Cropper or Booker or Al or Duck?

I don't know about pissing off anybody .... I do know that some of the obvious changes went away from what "was".  It follows naturally that some resentment could occur as major changes came.

Q: .... Did the MG's not get along with some of the new people?

That's not for me to say.  You can read between the lines, and decide for yourself.

I have a question of my own to ask here: Has any group of people in the music industry managed to get along without fights, arguments, or breakups - for eight or ten years or more?  Is there a group anywhere on earth capable of such an idyllic relationship?

Q: .... What was the response of STAX musicians to the growing funk phenomenon, which was usually more raw than post-68 STAX?

I don't know if anybody paid that much attention to it, other than maybe the Bar Kays.  Everybody at STAX was working on their own things.  I seem to remember everybody being centered into the productions they were currently involved in, and trying to get a hit.  I also recall everybody, when other music was discussed, being pretty positive about almost anything.  That could be from the Meters, to Neil Diamond, to the Beatles, to Charlie Rich - there were interesting parts, hooks, turns, etc. in all kinds of songs.  In a recording studio environment like STAX, I think the musicians tend to "analyze" what they're hearing, listening to specific parts or players.

Q: .... Was Jim Stewart alienated by the new ways or was he with them?

I don't think anybody literally related to "new ways" at the time they happened.  Living in the middle of it in real time - day to day to day - nobody could actually "see" these changes.  That's something we can do now, in retrospect.  But at that time, selling records and making BIG artists was lifeblood to STAX.  I really got the feeling that's what everybody at STAX was working towards.

Q: .... Was Jim respected by the MG's?

I would go a lot further than that, and say "loved".  I feel sure there were areas of disagreement as well.  I'm sure that passions and convictions - human nature - caused some arguments and fights.  Jim and Estelle gave everybody an incredible opportunity.  Nobody should ever forget that.

I have been hesitant to write the following paragraphs, because they're not nice or pleasant.
I've thought about this for a while, and concluded that reality is usually more than just a nice, happy facade.
So I basically said "what the hell?" and let 'er rip.
Regardless of anything I might write, the STAX saga speaks for itself.
Dreams, careers, and lives were affected - and in some cases, almost destroyed at STAX.
Even today, plenty of bitterness, resentment, and depression still exist.

When We Last Visited 926 E. McLemore

Working at STAX was a tremendous thrill.  No matter what this entire story might lead you to believe, I was just a keyboard player, who played on staff, doing sessions, and getting my checks every week.  I had no say about anything business related, and wouldn't have known what to say, even if I was asked.  I had no part of the "corporate machinery" - my functions at STAX were limited to playing and writing music, and some engineering. 

STAX was a "family" long before I thought of going to Memphis, and I was an "outsider", or maybe a "late arrival", from the day I got there.  Even though my heart belonged to STAX music, I got there late.  I believe I've said this before - I wish I had been born in Memphis, and gone to STAX the day Jim rented the theater.  I would gladly have pounded nails and swept floors with the rest of them.

Oddly enough, STAX is more of a big deal today than it was in 1969.  STAX legends, stories, and mysteries seem to be more interesting to more people today - maybe it's a result of the internet.  Or maybe more people today are starting to realize - STAX music was the absolute best that ever was.

There are a million things nobody ever talks about relating to the days of STAX.  The egos, conflicts, power struggles, and even hate, which developed between some people through the years - these things are never mentioned.  I've observed some things with my own eyes and ears, and drawn some conclusions from various occurrences.  Maybe I misunderstand some things, and I certainly don't know ALL the facts.  So all I can really write about is my own OPINION of the facts, as I know them.

In the early STAX days, Steve Cropper was STAX Record Company.  Steve is an exceptionally intelligent man, and is capable of so many things, it would amaze you.  He constantly hustled to get things done.  When I worked at STAX, Steve was as skinny as a fence post - probably from constantly moving.  I think the word "workaholic" was invented to describe Steve. 

I could see this in 1969 - he engineered, mixed, produced, wrote, played, did session paperwork, taught - he even tried to sing - he was into everything.  He WORKED for STAX, and he worked hard.  I think Steve was Jim Stewart's "right hand man", with some tremendous responsibilities and a whole lot of POWER and CONTROL associated with that position.  For many years, Steve was in charge of A&R, meaning artists and repertoire.  These were unquestionably STAX's best years, the time when the magic combinations of STAX were at their absolute peak.

Think about it: who wrote or co-wrote virtually every R&B song that meant anything?  Who produced Otis?  Who played guitar on essentially every R&B record that ever came out of the STAX studio?  If it weren't for Steve Cropper, R&B music probably never would have existed as we know it.   

Although I wasn't there to see it, even before Steve was in control of production, Chips Moman was involved at STAX, in somewhat the same capacity as Steve would be.  Obviously there were differences, and Chips left.

Having met Jim numerous times, but not knowing him as well as the musicians at STAX, it's hard for me to conceive of Jim as "being into funky music" - I just can't explain it.  I can't envision him pounding his feet, head nodding, or slapping his thigh to the backbeat.  He seemed entirely too reserved and quiet for that.  I think Jim was more of a man with a vision, an idea, and a belief that he could put the right people together and sell records in a place where those records would sell. 

How he ever got involved with soul music is totally beyond me, but I think he learned a lot about his chosen marketplace in very short order.  Estelle, whom I only met and spoke with a few times, seemed to have very definite ideas about what was good and what wasn't.  I believe she had a lot to do with forming the early patterns at STAX, particularly giving everyone a chance to try or do what they had.  She was rarely around STAX when I worked there, so I didn't have much chance to get to know her.

These three people were, in effect, the heart of STAX Records.

Writers and musicians - specifically David Porter, Isaac Hayes, Al Jackson, Booker Jones, and Lewis Steinberg, rounded out the very early STAX group, along with artists, such as Rufus and Carla Thomas.

Estelle's nephew, Packy Axton, and Wayne Jackson, plus one or two other horn players, also were involved at STAX from the very earliest days.  Duck Dunn came aboard as the STAX bass player in 1964, replacing Lewis Steinberg.

The first record that really sold was "Last Night", an instrumental by the MarKeys.  The MarKeys were basically an early version of what we call the MGs (including Booker and/or Isaac) plus horn players.  "Last Night" was the sparkplug that got STAX Records off the ground.

Part of having a record out on the charts also means playing live gigs or shows.  That's where the artist earns money, and that's how more records are sold, too.  The MarKeys, with a hit record on the radio, went out and played shows.  Personal conflicts soon arose, and Steve decided to return to STAX to work in the studio.  Without discussing this with all the participants, it's pretty obvious that some serious resentments developed - the actual reasons are unimportant within this story.

Now We Get To "Opinions With No Factual Basis"

At some point, Booker T and the MGs were born, and in August, 1962, a record was released, called "Green Onions", soon to become a huge national hit.  At that time, Booker was 18 years old, Steve was 21, and Al Jackson was 27.  Booker was enrolled in college at Indiana State University, and spent much of his time on campus, getting an education.

I believe it's possible that some resentments were created when Booker chose to attend college, rather than traveling to shows with the MGs and staying in Memphis, at the STAX studio.  Isaac played on several MGs gigs in place of Booker.  Simple logic tells me that everyone involved would typically put a hit record before anything, including a college education.  Until Booker writes his life story, we can only speculate about these differences, if they existed.

The End In The Beginning

In 1968, STAX and Atlantic ended their distribution agreement, and somehow, Atlantic came into legal possession of all of STAX's masters.  This was due to some hidden, obscure clause in their contract - a clause that obviously stole the soul right out of STAX, and one that Jim Stewart never would have agreed to, under any circumstances, had he known about it.

Here Come The Opinions

Jerry Wexler was Atlantic's "main man", and, in my own, personal opinion, he's mainly responsible for the downfall of STAX.  Although some faceless "New York lawyers" may have written the contract, it's obvious that there was never any intent to give away ownership rights to the songs. 

If this was the purpose of the contract, Jim would have given them ownership right out in front .... it would have been completely clear from the very beginning that STAX was selling the masters to Atlantic, not leasing them for distribution. 

The contract was wrong, Jerry Wexler was wrong, the lawyers were wrong, any way you look at it - this whole situation was wrong. 

Jim Stewart was also wrong - he allowed that error by not having his own lawyer study that contract carefully and discover that clause before he signed it.  Being an honorable, honest, southern gentleman, Jim was no match for the "sharp Yankee lawyers" that Atlantic retained. 

I MADE AN AGREEMENT MYSELF WITH JIM STEWART.  Jim Stewart was - without any question - a straightforward, truthful, GENTLEMAN.  He was a man who would look you directly in your eyes, shake your hand, and be bound to his word.  Long, complex contracts weren't Jim's style - his word was his bond

Greed was disguised as "good business", and the effects on STAX were devastating.   I'm sure Atlantic profited very, very handsomely indeed.  It follows logically that if Atlantic profited, so did Jerry Wexler.

And The Opinions Are Getting Worse


Wexler should have done the right thing, and either walked out of Atlantic, or helped STAX in every way imaginable to right this wrongdoing.  He should never have tolerated this act, but done whatever it took to stop Atlantic.  He should have hired lawyers, with his own funding, if necessary, and taken a stand to support honesty and truth ....


Wexler made an honest, gentleman's business agreement with Jim Stewart - HE SHOOK HIS HAND.  He was BOUND to his word.

Jim Stewart kept his word.  Wexler did not keep his word.

Meanwhile, Back In Memphis

An entire community known as STAX Records must have been in an uproar, suddenly realizing they had no catalog anymore, or cash flow either.  Their rights to their songs had been completely violated, and everything was about to change.  It shouldn't take much effort to visualize the resentment and anger bubbling and building.

STAX was facing a major crossroad .... death, or go forward and rebuild.  Thankfully, Jim had the courage - STAX went forward, but STAX would never be the same again.

As long as I'm venting negative opinions - and, once again, opinions are all they are - it's time to look at Al Bell, a man with dreams completely beyond logic, reality, or credibility.

Spend (Burn) It As Fast As We Can

Did Al Bell help destroy STAX?  There are varied pro and con opinions on this subject.  Al Bell did accomplish some wonderful things at STAX, there's no question.  But there's more to it.  Al wanted STAX to be "a presence" in the record industry - a real record company, not a "mom 'n pop" type image.  Following the disaster with Atlantic, STAX became a part of Paramount Pictures, a Gulf and Western Corporation division.

To celebrate the new capitalization - amounting to over $4 million - and make a "huge splash" in the recording industry, 


were released to the public simultaneously.  Thirty singles were also released.  By doing this, Al Bell made sure that several things happened:

  A whole lot of cash was funneled into albums that were never going to sell.
  Nearly every STAX/Volt artist would have a negative impact on their long term careers, including debt that could never be recovered from these albums.
  There would be no possibility that STAX's brand new promotion staff would be able to adequately represent this many artists and albums at one time.

But yes, a big industry "splash" was made - everyone was impressed.  Everyone said, "WOW!"  Everyone took STAX "seriously".  And every single album - with one exception - was dead before it had a chance to succeed.  I believe I mentioned earlier about careers being nearly destroyed?

Not limited to album releases, Al Bell also explored other areas where STAX might make a profit and hopefully sell more records.  A gospel music label, a comedy label, a rock label, jazz label, and a movie were all "investments" which were made with STAX funds, costing more money than we could ever hope to imagine. 

Brand new departments and divisions appeared like magic, and they disappeared exactly the same way.  As you might guess, these investments didn't generate any profit for STAX, they just cost more money.  During this time, real soul music, as we know it, was dying daily.

The "future visions" of Al Bell, trying to create "Motown in Memphis", cross over into the white market, and earn "white money", firmly and forever changed what STAX was all about.

I never liked Al Bell.  On the few occasions when I needed to speak with him, I remember long, drawn out, unrelated speeches, quotes from the bible, a 1000 watt smile, and a pat on the back - and whatever was discussed was ignored.

STAX "stood up" as a southern soul label doing just one thing, and doing it better than most anyone else: they cut hit singles - 45 rpm records.  If the single was a hit, then an album was usually released, to follow up the hit single.  That was what the whole company was created from, it's what they did best.  

Jim Stewart had a great idea starting out - and it was centered on real soul music with a group of soul people who all loved the same thing. 

But all that changed - Jim lost control of STAX, and Steve lost the control Jim gave him in the beginning.  Al Bell wanted much more for STAX.  Although his heart may have been in the right place - and I genuinely believe it was - it's my own opinion that Al Bell's business decisions were far beyond reckless, to say the least.

Crossing Over - The Hard Way

One of Al Bell's decisions was bringing Don Davis to STAX as a producer.  In reality, Don was given the same power and freedom that Steve held, and the conflicts were inevitable.  Unlike Don Davis, Steve earned his authority through the preceding seven or eight years, all the records, all the work, all the devotion, and now he was being forced to share or relinquish what was rightfully his.

Adding insult to injury, the arrangements Al Bell made with Don Davis literally cut off royalties which should have been shared by STAX's "core" staff of six: Steve, Al, Duck, Booker, Isaac, and David.  In effect, Don Davis was gaining all the benefits of producing records with the world's best rhythm and horn sections, and not having to pay for it, OR share the profits! 

Resentment was probably at an all time high, and it should come as no surprise that Don soon began to cut all his tracks in Muscle Shoals.  And Detroit.  And anywhere except STAX.  If there wasn't already enough dislike and resentment, now several STAX artists didn't even have their own STAX "family" playing on their records anymore!

What may not seem immediately apparent, is that every dollar spent on a record is eventually charged back to the artist.  That means the extra $25,000 or so for out of town studio rental, airfares, hotels, car rentals, etc., etc., eventually comes right out of the artist's pocket - which comes from the record sales.  So if the record doesn't sell, the artist owes a lot of money to the record company.  This is what happens to careers.

By this point in time, everything bad that could happen, did happen: Otis had passed away, STAX had been thoroughly raped by Atlantic, Sam and Dave were gone, Al Bell had led STAX into areas completely foreign to everyone, and new people had appeared, taking what formerly belonged to the STAX family.

In a moment of probable insanity, Al Bell put Don Davis in charge of A&R.  Suddenly, STAX had its own private riot in progress, as Isaac, along with the real STAX staff, complete with guns, shut down STAX Record Company.  By now, it should be apparent that there was no bed of roses at the corner of McLemore Avenue and College Street in Memphis. 


My personal opinion, which may not be worth much, is very clear.

If Al Bell has anything to do with it, in any way, I'm staying far away from it.

Keep On Keepin' On

Because Al Bell actually owned the controlling interest in STAX, his decisions couldn't be simply overturned by Jim or Steve.  Another decision by Al Bell was the hiring of yet one more "Director Of Production Control".  This one was a man named Tom Nixon.  "Official Titles" were awarded around STAX like potato chips.  There must have been two dozen Vice Presidents of this, and two dozen Executive Vice Presidents of that at one time. 

I probably could have been the "Executive Vice President of Keyboard Instruments Department" if they thought of it. 

If memory serves me correctly, Mr. Nixon called a meeting of all production people, and instructed everyone to address each other by their formal name: "Mr. Cropper", "Mr. Jackson", "Mr. Floyd", "Mr. Dunn".  These were people who had gone to school together, played in clubs together, gotten drunk together, and cut records together forever - before "Mr. Nixon" showed up to teach the correct manner of "social communication".  This was STAX Records, for Christ's sake!   

Can you IMAGINE this?  Duck, Steve, and Al calling ME "Mr. Kay"?  Can you imagine me saying, "Mr. Floyd, are we going hunting on Saturday?"  "Mr. Capone, I'll fix that Hammond organ part for Mr. Nightingale right now, if you have the time.  Mr. Banks and Mr. Jackson are in A studio - they have the master tapes, and Mr. Jackson will do a guitar part, also."  "Mr. Stewart, you told me to call you Jim, but Mr. Nixon just instructed all of us to call you "Mr. Stewart"."

A few of those present in the meeting walked out, using those eloquently timeless words, "FUCK YOU!"  

In my estimation, this is an example of a person who shouldn't have been allowed inside the STAX environment.  He didn't have any idea what it was.  The people from "outside" - as authority figures - were not respected by the group that started and created STAX Records - how could they be?  They weren't needed, they weren't wanted.  STAX had proven for about seven years they could cut great records without the the Al Bells and without the Tom Nixons.  It goes without saying that nobody at all complied with this new "rule", and the outrage and resentments continued to build.

STAX MenuProkeys Site Map