Chuck Stewart’s photography provided by Fireball Entertainment Group, courtesy of Chuck Stewart Photographs of John Coltrane, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Robert Gordon is the author of It Came from Memphis. His book about Stax Records, Respect Yourself, was published by Bloomsbury in 2013.
When I was a kid in 1970s Memphis, limousines were a rare sight, though two would occasionally appear in traffic. From the backseat of our family station wagon, we’d scream for Mother to pull up closer. We’d know whose it was by the license plate. Elvis Presley’s was not customized. Isaac Hayes’s read MOSES, referring to his nickname, Black Moses. He was leading people to the Promised Land.
When Tav Falco announced his entrance on Memphis’s music scene, his caterwaul hardly seemed like the overture to a multi-decade career. More than thirty years after his musical debut, he’s still tilting, far from center and ever forward.