The city of Memphis is strategically located north of New Orleans on the banks of the Mississippi River. Memphis was an important location for commerce, migration and travelling entertainers. This culturally dynamic city has contributed to the development and creative evolution of gospel, blues, rock and roll, jazz and soul music. The city developed a vast bank of multi-racial talents that altered the face of modern American music forever.
Memphis created a powerful and explosive mix of black and white musicians, songwriters and producers, who came together to create innovative sounds that sent out ripples right across the musical world. The city is definitely the crossroads of America in terms of music; a place where black and white cultures, despite severe segregation, fused to yield some of the greatest soul sounds of the twentieth century.
The two major labels that truly defined the Memphis sound were Stax and Hi Records. These two labels created a raw and yet refined sound that set them apart from other regional recording studios. Stax Records was instrumental in establishing Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Carla and Rufus Thomas and Hi Records was responsible for making Al Green into an international superstar under the leadership of the late Willie Mitchell, one of the key sound architects of the Memphis sound.
Superstar lsaac Hayes, was the most successful recording artist of the Stax organisation in terms of album sales, with seven gold and platinum certifications, while AI Green was the most successful recording artist at Hi Records, based on gold and platinum certifications for both albums and singles sold in America and overseas, especially in the UK.
There was a pivotal point in the musical development of the Memphis sound, especially with Stax Records, which employed over 200 people from the black community in production, accounts, song writing and other general company activities.
This was unheard of in the 1960s. Before its demise, Stax placed 167 songs in the Hot 1OO top charts, 243 songs in the top 100 R&B charts and became the fifth largest African American owned US business in 1974, with AI Bell as president of the company. Also by the end of the 1960s the record industry in Memphis was having a tremendous impact on the local economy, with over $30 million in generated revenue.
Isaac’s first gold album was entitled “Hot Buttered Soul”. The album achieved the number one position on both the Billboard Soul and R&B chart listings and Billboard Jazz chart listings
“Hot Buttered Soul” was the best selling black album by a solo artist in 1969.
“Dead Presidents” was released on 26th September 1995 through Capitol Records and consisted of 1970s R&B, funk and soul music classics. The soundtrack was very successful, finally charting at number 14 on the Billboard 200 chartings and topping the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It was certified gold on 1st December 1995.