Stax Records is synonymous with Southern soul music. Originally known as Satellite when it was founded in 1957 by Jim Stewart, the fledgling company set down roots in Memphis two years later and in 1961 changed its name to Stax, from the first two initials of Stewart’s last name and that of his sister and co-owner, Estelle Axton. Among the many artists who scored hits on Stax and its Volt subsidiary during the Sixties were Rufus and Carla Thomas, Booker T. & the MGs (an interracial instrumental quartet that also served as the company’s rhythm section), Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and Otis Redding. Redding’s death in 1967 signaled the end of the first Stax era (to which Atlantic retains distribution rights). Subsequently the company spawned a new crop of hitmakers, among them Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, and the Dramatics. In June 1977, a year and a half after Stax went bankrupt, the company’s masters were purchased by Fantasy, Inc., which periodically revived the Stax and Volt logos for new recordings, in addition to reissuing older material. Stax/Volt became part of the Concord Music Group in 2004.
Otis Redding – Stax Profiles (Selected by Steve Cropper)
No musician was closer to Otis Redding than Steve Cropper. Not only did Cropper play guitar on and help produce all of Redding’s studio sessions for Stax Records between 1962 and the vocalist’s untimely death in 1967, but he also was the cowriter of many of Redding’s greatest songs. Working together in then-segregated Memphis, the black soul singer from Georgia and the white Missouri-born guitar picker created what writer Carol Cooper has called "an alchemical form of cultural integration beyond the ability of government to mandate." Here we have 13 of the Big O’s most memorable performances – three recorded live, the rest in the studio – chosen by Cropper himself. A "bigger-than-life aura" surrounded Redding, Cropper comments in the booklet notes, and it can be felt radiating from every selection in this collection.