The legacy of Stax Records is a unique one that spans more than half a century. Stax Records is critical in American music history as it’s one of the most popular soul music record labels of all time. It’s second only to Motown in sales and influence, but first in gritty, raw, stripped-down soul music.
In 15 years, Stax placed more than 167 hit songs in the Top 100 on the pop charts, and a staggering 243 hits in the Top 100 R&B charts. It launched the careers of such legendary artists as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Booker T & the MGs and numerous others. Among the many artists who recorded on the various Stax Records labels were the Staple Singers, Luther Ingram, Wilson Pickett, Albert King, Big Star, Jesse Jackson, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, the Rance Allen Group and Moms Mabley.
Stax Records was more than just a label. It was a culture. While segregation was fervently supported in the South during Stax’s formative years in the 1960s, Stax was one of the most successfully integrated companies in the country—from top management and administration to its artists. With more than 200 employees, it was the fifth-largest African American owned business in the United States during its time, and was the most successful record label ever to come out of Memphis, Tennessee.
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