Stax/Volt Records went into decline after the golden years and was declared bankrupt on December 19, 1975, finally closing down on January 12, 1976. The Stax company (including its master tapes and publishing arms) was sold for about four million dollars to a holding corporation, which soon sold the Stax-owned master recordings and the name “Stax Records” to Fantasy Records. Fantasy appointed the long-standing Stax writer and producer David Porter to revive the Stax label, which was relaunched in January 1978.
The old Stax building was sold to a local church for ten dollars in 1981 and neglected for eight years , until it was finally pulled down. Over a decade later the Museum of American Soul Music was constructed at the site and opened in 2003. The Museum is a replica of the original building and tells the story of Stax records and the history of Soul music. It is worth a visit!
Concord Records purchased the Fantasy Label Group in 2004, and in December 2006 the Stax label was reborn. The first acts signed to the new Stax included Isaac Hayes, Angie Stone, and Soulive.
Amazingly, one of the first new recordings, Angie Stone’s album “The Art of Love & War”, reached the number one position on both the Billboard R&B and Hip Hop Albums chart (week-ending November 3rd 2007, 1 week) and on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, whilst also reaching number eleven on the Billboard Pop Album chart listings. The single “Baby”, a duet with Betty Wright, was taken from the album and became Stone’s second number one hit on the US Adult R&B Songs, earning Stone her third nomination at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.
The album sold over 45,000 copies on its general release in North America. This was the first time in more than thirty years (since Isaac Hayes) that Stax Records had achieved the number one position on the Billboard R&B and Hip Hop Albums Chart. The album was recorded and engineered at Marvin Gaye’s former studio on Sunset Blvd, based in Los Angeles.
Photo: Victor Chapa 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)