In South Memphis, from 1959 to 1974 the small film theater film studio created a series of hits today that stir souls. The former Capitol Theater on McLemore Avenue has been bought by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, a brother and sister couple. They will soon be part of a worldwide feeling called American soul music without awareness. This move placed them in a talented field. Many of Stax’s artists and musicians were from the area, the nearby churches and schools. In an era of high racial tension, the studio never saw the race but instead concentrated on producing its own sound – a Memphis sound.
Satellite Records was founded in early 1957. Inspired by Sam Phillips, a radio technician from Memphis who began making Satellite Records a couple of years earlier (and made vast amounts of money on Elvis Presley). Stewart realized that a banker could never do it as a talented musician by day and country fiddle by night. However, despite his lack of experience or knowledge of the recording industry, he thought he could be the next best thing-a producer. “Blue Roses,” the country’s low-production album, cut his first record in October 1957.
Estelle Axton bought a tape recorder for the studio in 1960. Stewart needed better equipment to get better sound, and he needed money to get better equipment. He approached Estelle Axton, his older sister, and mortgaged her house in order to purchase an Ampex 350 console recorder for the studio.
In 1960, Estelle refinanced her house to fund her move to a former McLemore Ave. theater in Memphis in the West from Brunswick in Tennis, Germany. Stax, a combination of Stewart’s first 2 letters with Axton’s last names, was renamed to the company.
This amazing museum is located in beautiful Memphis, Tennessee, along with these other must-see museums you shouldn’t miss:
- Beale Street
- National Civil Rights Museum
- Memphis Zoo
- Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
- Mud Island
- Shelby Farms Park
These amazing museums are located just down the street from our location at South Third Street across from The Southgate Shopping Center. Stop by for a visit anytime!