It was the second week of December 1973, and I had been summoned to come and play bass on a new Elvis album. Although I had recorded with the King for a number of years, I was looking forward to this particular visit because the recording was to take place at the world-famous Stax studio, in the legendary room that spawned hits by Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Rufus Thomas, and Isaac Hayes. It was every musician’s dream to play at Stax, and now I would realize that dream.
Every state in the South has contributed to the grand narrative of American music, but few can match Tennessee’s deep roots in the blues and jazz, gospel, soul and r&b, rockabilly, rock & roll, and country—or its tremendous concentration of historic record labels and music industry visionaries.
Memphis was bursting with music. It was a hot stew of musical urgency: blues and Southern gospel, rock & roll, the “hillbilly” music that came to be called “country,” and the new strains of rockabilly.