Jim Stewart, founding father of influential southern soul label Stax Data, has died aged 92. Stax confirmed the information on social media this morning, writing that Stewart “handed away peacefully earlier at this time, surrounded by his household”.
Because the founding father of Stax, Stewart was accountable for signing and nurturing the careers of a lot of soul and R&B’s most influential figures, together with Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Albert King and the Bar-Kays.
He started Stax as Satellite tv for pc Data in 1957; initially a rustic fiddle participant, Stewart based Satellite tv for pc as a rustic and rockabilly label earlier than pivoting nearly solely to R&B. Stewart likened his introduction to Black music as “like a blind man who all of the sudden gained his sight”. Primarily based in segregation-era Tennessee, Stax was a rarity in that it had a mixed-race workers and sought to uplift its Black workers as a lot as its white ones.
Stax discovered nice success by way of the 60s with a novel recording mannequin that utilised an in-house band versus hired-gun session musicians. Stax’s recording studio was a transformed film theatre in Memphis, a novel setting that created a particular, bass-heavy “Stax sound”. This, mixed with major-label distribution by way of Atlantic Data, meant that Stax was accountable for dozens of Billboard hit singles in its first decade.
Because the 60s drew to a detailed, Stax confronted vital operational troubles. In 1967, Atlantic was acquired by Warner Bros, and Stax was not made a part of the deal; regardless, Atlantic retained rights to all Stax data masters, massively devaluing Stax as a label. Nonetheless, Stewart and Stax discovered some success in its post-Atlantic years, signing Johnnie Taylor and the Staple Singers.
In 1976, Stax went bankrupt, and Stewart misplaced a lot of the cash he had remodeled the earlier 20 years. Within the ensuing years, he largely retreated from the general public eye, declining to attend his induction into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame in 2002 and solely sometimes making public appearances, save for a 2018 occasion throughout which he was honoured on the Stax museum. He’s survived by three youngsters and two grandchildren.