Soul Deep - The Story of Black Popular Music
Southern Soul - Ep 4/6
May 28, 9.00-10.00pm
In the summer of 1967, Otis Redding performed in front of a 200,000 strong, mainly white, crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Five years after walking into Stax Records studio in Memphis as an unknown singer, he was now breaking into the mass white
market and seducing its counter culture without diluting his sound.
Soul Deep follows both Redding's rise, as he became the embodiment of Sixties soul music, and that of Stax Records as it crossed
the racial divide at a time of segregation.
Founded by two whites- Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton - black and white musicians came together at Stax to create gritty,
passionate soul. "Stax Records was an oddity - it was like an oasis in the desert. Both black and white musicians became friends
because of what they did. It was wonderful. But right outside those doors it stopped," comments Stax songwriter David Porter.
Redding's triumphs at Stax encouraged other labels to look for this new style raw talent.The local Gold Wax label signed an
incredible talent - James Carr. One of his rare, previously unseen television performances features in Soul Deep. Classics include
Love Attack and At The Dark End Of The Street. "The roar, the depth of soul that we hear when James opens his mouth is the
voice of the south. It's that depth of pain and longing for something better," comments Alan Walden, Redding's former manager.
The sound of the south began to influence other labels. New York-based Atlantic Records' Jerry Wexler would bring his musicians
south whenever they needed inspiration.Wilson Pickett's huge hit In the Midnight Hour resulted from a night in Memphis' Lorraine
Motel with Stax songwriter Steve Cropper and a bottle of "Jack". After Wexler teamed performers Sam and Dave up with Stax
writers Isaac Hayes and David Porter, classic hits included Soul Man and Hold On, I'm Comin'.
Wexler was soon alerted to another southern record company - Rick Hall's Fame Studio in sleepy Muscle Shoals - where Percy
Sledge cut southern soul's first number one pop hit,When a Man Loves A Woman. It was here that he brought a new artist he
had just signed - Aretha Franklin. "It was so evident to me that she was a blazing genius. She was so far ahead of the pack. She
made a lot of beautiful records for Columbia but they were all over the place, they had no focus, no direction," explains Wexler.
Fame studio musician Dan Penn describes Franklin's dramatic entrance. "She sat down by the piano and played this unknown chord
and the musicians were just like little bugs running for their instruments." That day she recorded her number one hit I Never Loved
A Man The Way I Loved You. Her next monster hit was with Redding's Respect. Imbuing it with a new social relevance, it became
an anthem and she an icon.
In 1968, in a strange twist of fate, Martin Luther King was murdered in the same Memphis motel where Pickett and Cropper
penned In the Midnight Hour a few years before. His death heralded the end of an extraordinary era of hope as black attitudes
hardened. "The fraternalism between black musicians and white musicians seemed to suffer," explains Wexler.
A new black sound
was on it way!