Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
- Go to church: The Stax sound had its roots in Southern gospel, and the Museum takes you there – into a faithfully reassembled early 20th century Mississippi Delta church.
- Studio A: Stand in an exact replica of the converted movie theater where Stax artists cut their records. And check out the period recording gear in the control room. It ain't digital!
- Wall of Sound: Floor-to-ceiling Stax singles and albums fill this room – and the listening station cues 'em up for you. Plus see the original Soul Train dance floor.
- Walk the collection: See over 2,000 rare photos, films, music clips, costumes, instruments, and artifacts, including Tina Turner's gold sequined dress and Isaac Hayes' gold-trimmed '72 Eldorado.
About this Memphis, Tennessee tour
Pilgrimages take many forms. Some visit remote mountaintop shrines, others holy cities. This one takes you to the mountaintop all right, and deep into a shrine of American music: the Stax Museum in the part of Memphis called Soulsville.
The museum occupies the same McLemore Avenue address that housed the original Stax Records, run by Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, who risked everything to expand their tiny home studio into a cavernous former theater in 1960. The building's quirky acoustics actually became part of the signature Stax sound, and that sound exploded onto the charts like a rocket.
The list of hits and stars Stax produced is a who's who of R&B: Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T. and the MGs, Carla and Rufus Thomas, the Bar-Keys. But the music biz is treacherous, and by '68 Stax had lost most its brightest stars and repro rights to competing labels – and Otis Redding to a tragic plane crash.
Stax couldn't be stopped, and came back with a rapid-fire new crop of megahits from the likes of Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Little Milton, and the Soul Children. Still, by the mid-70s, they again lost distribution – and closed their doors.
Today, Stax lives again – lovingly reborn in a museum that gives Soulsville, USA, all the respect it deserves.
Stax's shooting star
In 1962, Otis Redding was a driver and backup singer for Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers. After a tough Jenkins recording session, Otis was allowed to sing a couple songs in the Stax studio. These Arms of Mine stopped everyone in their tracks. Studio head Jim Stewart quickly signed Redding to the label, and soon he was their biggest star. After his tragic death in 1967, Dock of the Bay became the first posthumous number-one single in US chart history.
Please have it read: Please make your way to 926 E. McLemore Ave. Memphis, TN 38106.
This tour is self-guided.
Parcels, umbrellas, backpacks, cameras, audio/visual devices, flash photography are not allowed. Closed on Mondays from November until March.
This tour is suitable for travelers with limited mobility and wheelchair users. Participation in any activity is at each person's discretion.
Family Friendly, Tickets
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages. Children 8 years of age and younger participate free of charge.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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