STAX Museum of American Soul Music
926 E. McLemore Ave.,
Memphis, TN 38106.
Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and blues recordings. While Stax is renowned for its output of African-American music, the label was founded by two white businesspeople, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, and featured several popular ethnically-integrated bands, including the label's house band, Booker T. & the MG's.
Following the death of Stax's biggest star, Otis Redding, in 1967 and the severance of the label's distribution deal with Atlantic Records in 1968, Stax continued primarily under the supervision of a new co-owner, Al Bell. Over the next five years, Bell expanded the label's operations significantly, in order to compete with Stax's main rival, Motown Records in Detroit. During the mid-1970s, a number of factors, including a problematic distribution deal with CBS Records, caused the label to slide into insolvency, resulting in its forced closure in late 1975.
In 1977, Fantasy Records acquired the post-1968 Stax catalog, as well as selected pre-1968 recordings. Beginning in 1978, Stax (now owned by Fantasy) began signing new acts and issuing new material, as well as re-issuing previously recorded Stax material. However, by the early 1980's no new material was being issued on the label, and for the next two decades, Stax was strictly a re-issue label.
After Concord Records acquired Fantasy in 2004, the Stax label was reactivated, and is today used to issue both the 1968–1975 catalog material and new recordings by current R&B/soul performers. Atlantic Records continues to hold the rights to the vast majority of the 1959-1968 Stax material.