Al Bell

Stax: Spiraling Downward

Episode 25

Episode date - October 23, 2015

How Music Changed

    When Al Bell sealed his distribution deal with Clive Davis of Columbia Records, he unwittingly also sealed the fate of Stax Records.

    At first, it seemed like a perfect marriage, where Stax needed to get its product into territories that had previously been resistant, and Columbia would get recognition for finally having some credible product for the R&B market.

    Once Clive Davis was summarily dismissed from his position as president of Columbia Records, though, the entire deal unraveled. Most of the agreement was based on verbal understandings between the two principals, so once Davis was gone, there was nobody left to execute his promises. With increasing debt and government investigations regarding payola scandals happening simultaneously, Stax went into a downward spiral that pointed toward the inevitable. It certainly did not help that they could not generate any significant hits during this time period, as can be seen by the songs featured in this show.

    1) Be What You Are – The Staple Singers

    2) I’ve Got to Love Somebody’s Baby – Stefan

    3) Sugarcane – MG

    4) It Ain’t Easy – The Bar-Kays

    5) What it is – Little Milton

    6) I’ve Got to Go On Without You – William Bell

    7) Cheaper to Keep Her – Johnnie Taylor

    8) If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me) – The Staple Singers

    9) Peace Be Still – The Emotions

    10) I’ll Be the Other Woman – The Soul Children

    Channel 145 - Stax