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(october 2, 1999)

Soul fans in the Memphis area might want to check out the benefit concert next Thursday (october 7th) at the Omni New Daisy on Beale Street. It's a benefit for Fred Ford, sax on (among other things) Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" headlining are Rufus and Carla Thomas and Alex Chilton backed by the Hi Rhythm Section. $10.

(september 26, 1999)

'In The Basement' (Soul music mag) has a new e-mail address:

(august 26, 1999)

There are rumors about the setting of a record company by Donald "Duck" Dunn with old college mates. Steve Cropper could open a musical place in Memphis. Stax is definitely not dead... More details asap.

(august 20, 1999)

Heikki Suosalo from Finland, reports how Otis' great song "I've Been Loving You Too Long" came out:

Jerry Butler told me a bit of the birth of the tune I've Been Loving... with Otis Redding. "The day he and I wrote I've Been..., we wound up doing a concert together in Buffalo in New York. After the show he and I went back to the Sheraton Hotel, sat around and he'd open up a bottle of JB and broke out his old guitar, and we started talking about the songs that we had started but never completed. I said 'listen, I want you to listen to something I have started but I can't get pass the bridge to save my life'.  I played it for him and he fell in love with it.  He said 'Jerry, this is a hit', and at the time we both needed a hit real bad. And I said 'look, if you believe this is a hit, you go and finish it and you have my blessings to record it'.  He called me about two weeks later and said 'the song's on the street, and it's a hit'."

(july 30, 1999)

I just learned of one more cool thing that happened last weekend. The film crew that filmed the Luther Ingram Benefit was at the airport when it was announced that their flight was delayed an hour. Roger Friedman was hungry, so he walked around to find something to eat. He happened upon a restaurant with a great sounding horn playing loud enough for him to hear through the locked doors. It was too early to get in but he knocked anyway. A waitress let him in and there he saw Ben Cauley warming up for his regular gig right there in the airport. Ben recognized him from the benefit and called him over.  Roger freaked that Ben worked at an airport blues bar/restaurant (which happens to be owned by David Porter). He took out his cell phone and called the camera crew and had them run, literally, to the restaurant to film Ben. Cauley sat down at the piano and began to play. Roger cried. Then in the door comes Frederick Knight. He had heard the music too and wanted to see who that was. He and Ben were so excited to see each other. They hugged each other and then sat together at the piano and sang "...Dock of the Bay" while the cameras were rolling and Roger was crying. He said it was beautiful. He also said that they decided that this scene would be the close of their movie. Ain't it great! There may not be a Stax Recording Studio any longer, but the magic is still right here in Memphis.

Cherrie Holden


(july 26, 1999)

"I went  to low school and high school in Decatur Alabama  which is 45 miles east of Muscle Shoals. The high school girls had sororities or girls clubs with names like Sub Deb and The J.U.G. Club (that stood for JUST US GIRLS and not what it sounds like!) Several times a year that held dances called "Lead Outs" and great bands were always a major part of these events. A few of the acts that played these dances included Bowlegs Miller, Rufus Thomas, an albino cat named Dr. Feelgood and The Interns, The Tams, Dann Penn and The Mark V (Five), Hollis Dixon and The Keynotes, The Delrays, Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs and many many more great bands of that time.
One year, a bunch of my friends and I decided to form a high school fraternity so WE could rent the Country Club and have a dance. We collected membership dues from everybody and bought a keg of beer and we were in business! I was voted social chairman and I set out to book a band for our dance. I had heard that there was a new bookin' agent in Macon Georgia that booked a lot of bands from The Carolina's and a bunch of other great black bands. I got on he phone and booked a band and mailed in a  25% depot. I  can't remember who the act was now but I had everything set for the night of our dance.
On the morning of the date of our dance I got a phone call from the office of the fledgling company  Phil Walden and Associates. I was informed that the bus that was carrying the band that I had booked had broken down and we would have to accept a replacement. I was told that the replacement band would arrive by car in time for the dance and that  I was to go and meet the afternoon Southern Airways flight  and pick up the singer whose name I was told but immediately forgot. I was assured that we would love this new singer and the problem was all worked out. That afternoon a couple of car loads of us drove across The Tennessee River to the small airport called Pryor Field. We sat on the hoods of our cars and listened to the radio in the lazy hot Alabama sun while we scanned the skies for the airplane.
Finally someone picked out a tiny little silver speck in the immense blue sky and we all watched it grow larger until it made it the final approach and touched down and taxied to the edge of the tarmac. The flight attendants rolled the tall metal steps up to the side plane and we watched as the door of this shiny silver winged tube opened up and the travelers began to deplane. One by one we watched them all. The Businessmen in their business suits with their briefcases and buttoned down collars and neck ties and the women in their bubble hairdoes. Just about the time we thought that the plane was empty we saw him standing in the doorway! The Replacement!
BEHOLD! The Replacement had arrived!The Replacement had been delivered to us from way out of the clear blue Alabama sky by this shiny silver  tube with the  propellers still spinnin' in the center of each silver wing. The Replacement had arrived to save our day and turn our dance that night into a magic event that none of us would ever forget.
The Replacement appeared  to be ten feet tall and he was dark and he was handsome. The Replacement wore a blue shark skin and he had a quiet strong countenance about him. Our savior for the night had arrived and we all felt safe. I finally made my way over to The Replacement and in my usual manner I extended my right hand and said "Hey Man! It's good to see you! My name is Johnny Wyker". The Replacement tried his best not to smile but he did anyway as he shook my hand and said "I'm Otis Redding and I'm gonna sing for ya'll tonight!"
Later that night on a break between sets Otis and I sat on a stainless steel table in the kitchen of the country club and we talked. I remember tellin' him how much I liked his singing style and Otis was very humble and he thanked me he said  that all he wanted to do was to be respected and be as good as his idols were. I asked him who his favorite singers were and he named a bunch of them but the name that I remember most was Jackie Wilson!
I was lucky enough to hangout with Otis on several other occasions after he became a star and he was the same gentleman that I met that night except he had  a lot more confidence about him and he seemed to be a lot happier. In 1964 I met Phil  and Alan Walden for the first time at The Moonwinks Motel in Tucaloosa, Alabama but that's another Cat Tale I'll have to tell ya'll next time if you like!"

John Wyker.

John is a singer, composer and musician who worked at American Studio and Muscle Shoals studios among others with the greatest ones. You can get in touch with him at

(july 14, 1999)

A funny photo of Rufus Thomas and Millie Jackson instructing B.B. King on the finer points of doing the Funky Chicken with J. Blackfoot and William Bell awaiting their turns. Provided by Cherrie Holden and taken in march 1997 at Rufus' 80th Birthday Bash at the Orpheum Theater, Memphis.

(july 14, 1999)

Sherman Willmott, owner of Shangri-la Records in Memphis sent me his memories about Stax and the state of mind yesterday and today about the music heritage in the Bluff City (except Elvis Presley). Shangri-la Records is a great place for second hand rare, sometimes very rare soul records, especially Stax and also some rare CDs. Their Stax bricks cost 10 $ each + p&p and are sent with a photo of Stax and a certificate of authenticity. The tapes found on the demolition site were fortunately preserved and sent to Fantasy in Berkeley. Here is what Sherman says:

"I started Shangri-la Records in 1989.  At that point in time, no one cared about the great legacy of Memphis music and you could not buy Memphis music in most Memphis record stores.  It was during these conditions that Stax Recording studios were torn down beginning August, 1989--stopped shortly thereafter--and completed in December, 1989.  There was a small, unfinanced effort to stop the tearing down of the studio.  This effort caused a court injunction to stop demolition for a couple of months and then that passed.
Memphis did not appreciate its musical heritage in those days.  Tearing down the Stax studios was a final ignorant blow to a great musical legacy. 
During the fall, 1989, I went over to the Stax studio & bought bricks from the construction crew, who were saving the bricks for reuse in other projects.  I even bought some Bar-Kays promo pictures from one of the crew.
There were tapes & various things all over the site as Stax had been plundered in the final days--wires coming out of the ceiling, junk piled up everywhere, crackheads had obviously been sleeping in there at some point. It was very sad & a big mistake. (Two years later American studios were torn down).
Things are a bit different today.  Many books have come out on the Memphis music heritage, Gibson guitars is building a big factory behind Beale St. and politicians & the tourist industry have finally woken up and smelled the coffee in Memphis.  Now everyone loves Memphis music and is trying to figure out how to make Memphis the music power it was from 1965-1973."

Thanks for keeping the memories, Sherman.

(july 6, 1999)

Rufus Thomas CD   SWING OUT WITH


Prod. by B. Manuel
& R. Thomas
total time: 46'47"

  Rocket '88
Fool For Your Mama
Do Me Again
Keep That Music Simple
Just Because I Leave, That Don't Mean I'm Gone
I Like To Boogie
New Kinda Love
No More Doggin'
Put My Money Down
Age Ain't Nothin But A Number

Thanks to High Stacks Records (or should I say HI STAX?!), here is a great new Rufus Thomas album.
Recorded in Memphis, in the studio where Jim Stewart retreated after the dismiss of Stax (Black Diamond Records), our dear ol' Rufus shows us once again what he can do with the help of such well known backing people as Leroy Hodges (bass), Steve Potts (drums), Bobby Manuel (guitar), Charles Hodges (organ), Andrew Love (tenor sax), Ben Cauley (trumpet), Jack Hale (trombone), Carla Thomas, Vanessa Thomas (vocals), etc... A whose who of Stax and Hi studios in the good old times.

Just Because I Leave, That Don't Mean I'm Gone in particular is a real down home blues that could be a "blue Stax" single taken straight from the best of the Stax vaults. New Kinda Love is another version of Steady Holding On and so on.

The CD has even been mastered by Larry Nix and the horn arrangements are by Lester Snell, you just miss Jim Stewart or Ron Capone at the board!

As a resume, if you don't like Stax records and the best Southern Soul music, don't buy this CD... In any other case, get your credit card and run don't walk to a record dealer or click

Long life, Rufus!

(july 3, 1999)

Clarence Moore has lived in Memphis and still goes there regularly. He remembers about Stax:

"Have you ever been to Memphis? I have relatives, as well as friends there,  and go back there often. In fact, whenever I am on I-40 in Arkansas which takes you into Memphis from St. Louis, I tune into WDIA to see what's going on in the Bluff City. Mr. Rufus is probably still doing his Saturday morning blues show. I haven't talked to Carla in a while. But knowing her, she's busy with something involving children, but still not singing on Beale Street every weekend where she should rightfully be.
There are a lot of things to tell, such as the first time I saw the abandoned theater where Stax was headquarted and jumping out of my car and going over to touch a brick. Shortly thereafter, I was at work and heard the news they were tearing down the old STAX building. I remember feeling really angry and then depressed because the building was literally crumbling and had not been preserved like Sun Studios or Graceland. I called Carla Thomas to ask her how could the city destroy  some of it's history. She was philosophical, but still couldn't help feeling that some people in Memphis were a little ashamed of what they had let happen to STAX. We met up later and drove over to E. McLemore, where we gathered up some of the bricks from the rubble. I know Carla gave some of her bricks to her family (Mr. Rufus and brother Marvell) and I think she sent some to other former Stax artists. I still have mine. They have a historical marker there, but it's not the same as having the building still there. The old S-T-A-X letters were on display at a club on Beale Street. That's just one of the recollections."

Thank a lot Clarence and tell us more.

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