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High Stacks logo

Great news from Memphis ! I just received the following messages from Cherrie:
"I have news for you!  I work with Bobby Manuel at High Stacks Records in Memphis, TN.  Bobby began working at Stax when he was a teenager and stayed with them until the end.  He wrote & played guitar on many, many of Stax all-time greatest releases. After Stax closed, Bobby and Jim Stewart began their own label, Black Diamond Records which was located in the same studio that is home now to High Stacks Records.  After Jim retired, Bobby decided to start his own label.  He ran across the ugliest pair of platform shoes that were ever created ! They are funny to look at. They are white leather covered almost completely with patches of various color, primarily red.  Ronnie Stoots was attempting to design a logo for Bobby using a photo, taken by Fred Toma.  During that time, Bobby chose the name High Stacks for his new label name.  The logo using the shoes never quite came together due to the fact that Bobby had a CD to release & could wait no longer so he had one made that we use today that looks like stacks from a steamship.  Bobby has a deep love for the Stax music and for the Stax family as well.  He knew that many of the artists were not paid fairly by the company that now owns the catalog. He felt that if fans could hear the music that these artists still create, that possibly they could make a living performing throughout the US & Europe.  He began recording new music on the artists and was almost ready to release the CD when God called him to record gospel music & launch a new artist into ministry.  He has done this with Jackie Johnson and her CD is being very well received.  It is now time to complete the project he began about two years ago.  We have just established the street date for 926 E. McLemore : A reunion of former Stax artists.  November 3, 1998 we will release the finest compilation you have ever heard !  We are excited & so are the Stax fans.  Much is left to be done but we believe we will be able to meet our deadline.

The artists on this first release are : The Barkays, The Madlads, Mack Rice, Ben Cauley, The Stax Rhythm Section ( Bobby Manuel, Ronnie Williams, John Williams and Steve Potts), Ollie Nightingale, J. Blackfoot, Rufus Thomas, The Temprees.
There are a couple of cuts that I hesitate to mention yet. Due to timing, they may have to wait for volume 2. Ronnie Stoots is preparing the cover art, Fred Toma, photos, Deanie Parker, liner notes, Rob Bowman, liner notes, Larry Nix, mastering.  As you can see, we have been very selective in not only who performs on this release, but also that the same creative folks who participated in the design and marketing of the original Stax products are participating. This is some of the best music I have ever heard.  The music is new and now but still has that wonderful Stax feel to it. You, as a fan of Stax, will be able to spot the influence right away.  Stay tuned, Patrick. You're gonna love this!".

"We are a new label and will focus primarily on gospel.  We feel strongly though that this music of the Stax family need to be released.  We will follow this volume 1 with a second volume, a tribute to Otis Redding, and we are exploring an opportunity to work with Tommy Tate as well.  That reminds me, I forgot to tell you that we have some never before released Luther Ingram on the 926 E McLemore CD too.  Before I came to work with Bobby, I was at Ecko Records which is also in Memphis.  I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to become friends with Ollie Nightingale there.  He was an amazing man. It has been almost a year since he died, and I can honestly say that he is a man who is *sorely* missed. I have yet to speak with anyone who doesn't shed a tear to this day when speaking of Ollie.  I never really understood what that term *sorely missed* meant until now.  You may want to inform your listeners that Ecko Records is preparing to release a tribute to Ollie next month.  John Ward had several tracks on Ollie in preparation for another release they were working on. I have heard several of them and they are very, very good. I also am fortunate to have been able to work with Rufus Thomas. We became friends when I was at Ecko and have grown closer and closer since then.  His health is much improved since his heart surgery in July.  We need a little more vocals on his cut and hope to be able to get those recorded next week.   He too is a wonderful man and I count it an honor to not only get to work with him, but to also be his friend.  I have recently spent much time with Carla Thomas. I hope that we can get her into the studio soon. If we can't get her on the first volume, I think we may be able to arrange it on the second.  Rance Allen will be in the studio next week. I hope I don't faint when I meet him. In answer to your question regarding the artists who recorded with Black Diamond : I am not sure who all recorded with them.  Bobby gave me the only remaining 7". 2 sides by the Greens. You tell me ? I'll ask Bobby next week. I don't think they put out too much though. Jim never really got his heart back in to the recording industry after Stax closed. High Stacks has one other artist right now-Jackie Johnson-whose CD is doing very, very well. Her music is traditional & contemporary gospel and is crossing over into many R&B shows. You can find her listed on many noted artist's CDs as background vocalist.  She has recorded with The Staples, J. Blackfoot, Ollie Nightingale, Rufus Thomas, Shirley Brown, Barbara Carr and is even on Lenny Kravitz's latest release. She performs often in Finland and Norway and is now booked as a headliner during the Poretta Festival (in Italy). You won't find her doing much background work anymore though since she now has her own CD out. Gospel and soul may sound a lot alike, but the messages are very different ! I have to run now, but will gladly update you on any of the artists you are interested in.  I am fortunate to be able to work with the BEST. I have included our logo for you. We don't have our site up yet but soon. Take care, and thanks for letting your audience know about the upcoming release.  If you have any fans of gospel over there, let me know and I'll get you a CD on Jackie. I see Gus Cannon has a page on your site.  My friend, Lane Wilkins, is the granddaughter of Robert T Wilkins.  He was a friend of Cannon's and Lane has written a short book on Gus and her grandfather too.  I don't know how interested you are in the Delta blues side, but if interested in that, I'll see about finding a copy of that for you too. Take care, Cherrie."



Joe Arnold
Joe Arnold
  Charles Fairley
Charles Fairley

Pat Murphy (no connection with Matt "Guitar" Murphy) who has his own band in Mississippi has occasionally used two different tenor players who played with Otis Redding : Charles Fairley who is from Moss Point and worked in Otis' road band a good bit ( he is playing behind Otis on the Ready Steady Go British TV show video) and Joe Arnold who is like the Lost Memphis Horns member. Joe still lives in Long Beach, Ms. Pat says that Joe Arnold is beyond a doubt the most explosive R & B Tenor player he have ever shared the stage with. As everyone knows, he was a session player on a lot of the great Stax and Muscle Shoals recordings and played on the Stax/Volt Tour of Europe.

Thanks Pat and hope to hear more news about Joe Arnold and Charles Fairley.



Curtis Johnson (see other news below) informs us that he was not able to go to the "Stax Explosion" show in Memphis, due to personal events. He was told that The Temprees put on a great show and Carla, Rufus and Marvel Thomas performed too.

After performing several of her hits, Carla Thomas explained that she would rather do Gospel, because that's what she sings now and then she went on to sing some gospel songs that really excited the audience.

We hope to get more news later on this event from Memphis.



Malaco logo

Rob Bowman is doing the book notes for on an upcoming boxed set about the Malaco Story (30 years old now!).
Watch out for the Malaco website. It will be updated soon. You probably noticed that it was out of date.
Here is a list of vinyl releases of Johnnie Taylor available on Malaco (7-inch 45s) :

MALACO 2107 : Lady, My Whole World Is You/L-O-V-E ; MALACO 2111 : This Is Your Night/Good With My Hips ; MALACO 2118 : Still Called The Blues/She's Cheatin' On Me ; MALACO 2125 : Wall To Wall/I'll Do Anything For You ; MALACO 2128 : Can I Love You/There's Nothing I Wouldn't Do ; MALACO 2132 : Just Because/When She Stops Asking ; MALACO 2135 : Don't Make Me Late ; MALACO 2140 : If I Lose Your Love/Something Is Going Wrong ; MALACO 2145 : Everything's Out In The Open/Got To Leave This Woman ; MALACO 2149 : Now That You Cheated/You Knocked My Heart Out Of Line ; MALACO 2153 : I Found A Love/In Control ; MALACO 2159 : Still Crazy For You/Nothin' But The Blues ; MALACO 2163 : Without You/She's No Lady ; MALACO 2186 : Crazy Over You/What Kind Of Man Do You Want ; MALACO 2197 : Lady Soul/Hurtin' Just Ain't No More Fun ; MALACO 2201 : Back Street Love Affair/Lady In Red ; MALACO 2306 : Good Love/Body Rock ; MALACO 2313 : Last Two Dollars/Sending You A Kiss.

All Johnnie Taylor's albums are listed on MALACO's website, except for his brand new one, which was just released in March 98. It is MALACO 7488 (CD/Cassette only), entitled "Taylored to Please". The songs included are as follows:

Groove Me ; Cheatin' On Me ; I' m Not The Man You Need ; Disco Lady 2000 ; If You Take Your Love Away ; You Couldn't Break Me ; Kickin' Back, Chillin' Out ; What Good Is A Man ; Loose Hair In The Bathroom ; Can't Live With You ; You Can't Strike Gold In A Silver Mine ; Throw Your Hands In The Air.

Stax Bricks



The interest in Stax memorabilia is so great that when the Stax studios were destroyed in 1988, someone managed to buy the building's bricks.

Those are still sold by Shangri-La Records on Madison ave. in Memphis for 10 $ each plus post and packing ! Order to Sherman Willmott at

Fantasy logo


The most recent releases in Fantasy's ongoing Stax reissue program are Hold On, I'm Coming, a singles collection by the SOUL CHILDREN; Soul Street, which pairs the EDDIE FLOYD albums Baby, Lay Your Head (Gently on My Bed) and Soul Street; and Funky Chicken by RUFUS THOMAS, which consists of the original LP of the same name plus the A and B sides of four rare Thomas singles. The second volume of Wattstax live recordings, Wattstax 2: The Living Word, will be reissued in the spring. The package contains classic RICHARD PRYOR performances (which will necessitate a parents' advisory sticker on the cover!). A 4-CD package, The Stax Story, is on the way.

Memphis's fabled Stax Records was forced into bankruptcy 22 years ago, but its enduring musical legacy was celebrated on December 18, 1997 as 85 artists, producers, and musicians were presented with RIAA-certified gold records. Fantasy, the owner of the Stax catalog since 1977, hosted a festive gold-record giveaway in association with Atlantic and Rhino Records. The 11 gold singles presented were: "Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes; "Respect Yourself" by the Staple Singers; Rufus Thomas's "Walking the Dog"; Carla Thomas's "B-A-B-Y"; Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Coming"; the Bar-Kays' "Soul Finger"; Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood"; Booker T. & the MG's' "Time Is Tight" and "Soul Limbo"; and Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff," Stax's all-time best-selling single (2.75 million copies). Also certified was Rhino's Compact Disc collection The Very Best of Otis Redding.

"For reasons that aren't entirely clear, Stax never got around to certifying some of their biggest sellers," explains Bill Belmont of Fantasy, who organized the December event and handled the paperwork for the recent certification. "For instance, 'Soul Man' was certified, but Sam Moore and Dave Prater never received official copies, even though the company got one. In the case of 'Mr. Big Stuff,' 'Respect Yourself,' 'Time Is Tight,' and 'Soul Limbo,' they just never certified them." The gold singles achieved their status in the years since Fantasy's acquisition of Stax.

The gold-record event, held at B.B. King's club on Beale Street in Memphis, also celebrated the publication of Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records (Schirmer Books) by Grammy Award winning music historian ROB BOWMAN. Twelve years in the making an d based on over two hundred interviews with just about everyone of consequence in the Stax organization, Bowman's book is the definitive work on Stax. For further information, contact Nancy Marron of Schirmer at 212/654-8518.

Curtis Johnson


Curtis Johnson, lead singer from the Astors of "Candy" fame (see our INFOS page for their complete CD re-issue on Stax/Fantasy) informs us that a Stax celebration was given in Memphis at B.B. King's Club on Beale street to honor Rob Bowman for his "SOULSVILLE USA" book and to present gold records to Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave, Booker T. & The MG's, Carla and Rufus Thomas, The Bar-Kays and Jean Knight. A lot of the Stax family was there and everybody had a ball, some of them seeing each other for the first time in years.


Tim Whitsett


Tim Whitsett, head in the 70s of East Memphis Music and Birdees Music, the two Stax music publishing companies, was a close witness of the very last days of Stax (see his numerous interviews in Rob Bowman's book). He informed me that he left Memphis in 1976 to join Chrysalis Records in London. He returned to his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi in 1986 and is at the moment with Malaco Records, a label which kind of succeeded to Stax by sheltering some of its former artists among which Johnnie Taylor. Some Stax records were also recorded at Malaco in the 70s, such as Jean Knight's "Mr Big Stuff".