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Jim Stewart

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Music Producer

The Resume

    (July 29, 1930-December 5, 2022)
    Born in Middleton, Tennessee
    With his sister Estelle Axton founded Stax Records (1957)
    Produced records by Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, and Booker T. and the MGs
    Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2002)

Why he might be annoying:

    He said, ‘I knew that I could not make it as a musician, so producing was the next best thing.’
    He set up Stax to record county and rockabilly music rather than the soul records the label became famous for.
    He did not read the contract he signed for Atlantic Records to distribute Stax’s releases nationally, which came back to bite the label in the ass as one clause gave Atlantic ownership of the master recordings of the music it distributed.
    He missed a chance to work with Aretha Franklin when he told Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler (following a contentious recording session with Wilson Pickett) that he would no longer record artists not signed to Stax.
    He lost his house and most of his fortune in an ultimately futile attempt to keep Stax from going bankrupt (1975).
    After that, he became increasingly reclusive, with his sister Axton noting, ‘He won’t talk to anybody. He was hurt.’
    He declined to attend his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, sending two granddaughters in his place.

Why he might not be annoying:

    He was married to Evelyn White for over 60 years.
    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called him ‘the creator of the ultimate R&B label.’
    Stax was viewed as a haven of integration in the South, featuring an interracial house band (Booker T. and the MGs) and Stewart hiring black executives, such as promoter Al Bell (who eventually replaced Axton as co-owner of the company).
    Bell noted, ‘To sit in that office with this white man, sharing the same telephone, sharing the same thoughts, and being treated like an equal human being — was really a phenomenon during that period of time.’
    He said about Stax, ‘I think my contribution was in being able to put the right combination of people together creatively.’

Credit: C. Fishel

Featured in the following Annoying Collections:

Year In Review:

    In 2022, Out of 64 Votes: 32.81% Annoying