Located at the original site of Stax Records on 926 East McLemore Avenue in Memphis, the Stax Museum pays tribute to some of the best soul music artists who ever lived. The greats who performed there include Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Booker T and the MGs. The museum includes more than 2,000 exhibits, which while it may include guitars and original recorded records on display, it also has a number of quirky objects such as this Duck Dunn pipe.
The story of Stax Records is one of a cultural phenomenon that changed the culture of music forever – locally, nationally, and internationally. The success of Stax was perhaps, as Steve Cropper has said, “an accident. Many factors were involved with the success of Stax.”
What began as a tiny record store in an old movie theater at the corner of McLemore Avenue and College Street in Memphis, Tennessee, grew to become one of the most important music recording studios in the world. When the modest Capitol Theater in the heart of Soulsville USA was transformed into Stax Records in 1959, it began launching the careers of unknowns who would become icons, cranking out a massive catalog of smash soul hits by the likes of Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, Luther Ingram, Albert King,the Bar-Kays, Booker T. & the MG’s, Johnnie Taylor, Rufus and Carla Thomas, and dozens of other artists whose influence remains vital in the music of today.
On its many and varied labels, Stax Records also recorded such legends as Big Star, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley, and the Grammy-winning comedic genius Richard Pryor.
Today, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located at the original site of Stax Records, pays tribute to all of the artists who recorded there with a rare and amazing collection of not just exhibits, but films, artifacts, items of memorabilia, and galleries to pay homage to those who had such a dramatic impact on music.
Back- stage area has a number of surprises for the visitor. The jewel in the crown of Back Stage however, and of the Stax Museum is Hayes’ completely restored, peacock blue, gold-trimmed, fur-lined, 1972 Cadillac El Dorado. The El Dorado was oh so cool, I sat and watched it circle around and around for I dunno, 20 minutes. There was something about its original authenticity and over-the-top colors, leather and gold that was almost intoxicating.
You’ve got to admit it – it’s a remarkable car.
It’s worth noting that it is the only soul music museum in the world, so it spotlights America’s major soul music pioneers, including the sounds of Muscle Shoals, Motown, Hi, and Atlantic Records, spotlighting the contributions of such soul pioneers as Ike & Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, The Jackson Five, Ann Peebles, Al Green, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Ray Charles, Albert King, The Astors, The Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas, David Porter, Eddie Floyd, The Emotions, Isaac Hayes, Jean Knight, Johnnie Taylor, Little Milton, Memphis Horns, The Mad Lads, The Soul Children, The Staple Singers, Steve Cropper, William Bell, Rufus Thomas, Otis Redding and others.
Dress up anyone?
Outside, it still looks like an old theatre.
Two thumbs up! Don’t miss this historical and musical gem when you get to Memphis.
926 E McLemore Avenue
Memphis, TN 38106
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World
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Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography
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