William Bell On World Cafe : World Cafe Bell tells stories of Stax Records' wildly productive years that's captured on a new box set called Stax '68: A Memphis Story.
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William Bell On World Cafe

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William Bell On World Cafe

William Bell On World Cafe

William Bell On World Cafe

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David McClister/Courtesy of the artist

William Bell

David McClister/Courtesy of the artist

Playlist

"(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," Otis Redding

"A Tribute To A King," William Bell

"You Don't Miss Your Water," William Bell

"Banana Boat (Day-O)," Harry Belafonte

"Everybody Loves A Winner," William Bell

"Heads Or Tails," Booker T. & the MG's

"Send Peace and Harmony Home," Shirley Walton

"Respect," Aretha Franklin

Today, we're traveling back 50 years to 1968 Memphis, Tenn. to take a peek inside one of the most influential recording studios, Stax Records. Co-founded by brother and sister Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, Stax was home to the likes of Otis Redding, the Staples Singers, Booker T. and the MG's, Judy Clay, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, and my guest today, William Bell. Bell's here to tell stories of the wildly productive time that's captured on a new box set called Stax '68: A Memphis Story. The box features all 134 singles that Stax put out that year.

William's also here to talk about what was going on outside of Stax and the politics that you can't separate from the music of that time. While Stax was an integrated space, in William's words, Memphis itself was "staunchly segregated."

In April of 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, which was also a frequent hangout for some of the Stax crowd like Isaac Hayes. Hayes was a friend of Bell's, and so was Otis Redding, whose song "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" was released in early 1968, shortly after Redding died in December 1967 in a tragic plane crash. That's where we begin with William Bell. Listen in the player.

Episode Playlist