MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Jim Stewart, a co-founder of STAX Records and a cornerstone of Memphis music since the 1950s, has died, his friend, Memphis Hall of Fame songwriter and producer David Porter confirmed Monday.
Porter said Stewart died Monday morning. He was 92.
His passion for recording music was inspired by Sam Phillips’ success at Sun Records. He started recording country artists on a tape machine in his wife’s uncle’s garage in the mid-1950s.
Stewart founded Satellite Records in 1957. His sister Estelle Axton soon joined him and the label was called STAX, a combination of their names.
Stewart was born on July 29, 1930, in Middleton, Tennessee. He was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
“What he and his sister meant to American and Soul music that would be recorded is undeniable. Jim Stewart was a conduit for the music and culture that affected music all over the world,” said David Porter.
James Alexander, the founder and bass player for the R&B and funk band the Bar-Kays, said:
“Fifty-five years ago, a band called the Bar-Kays went into the studio and Jim asked us to play something and we played it and we didn’t know what it was. Just a groove. That groove ended up being ‘Soul Finger.’ Without Jim Stewart there would be no Bar-Kays.
STAX, a record label and a recording studio on McLemore Avenue in South Memphis, was home to a generation of Memphis R&B hitmakers from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s. Stars included Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MGs, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Rufus and Carla Thomas and more.