STAX Records Pop Music Expansion-1974
It was an exciting period for the label with creative energy and can-do attitudes being dispersed from the halls of the soul music giant. These developments were a long time aspiration of Jim Stewart. Having seen the phenomenal growth of what a southern rock label like Capricorn Records had accomplished, Stewart's objective was to cash-in on the album market. With singles (45 RPM's) on the decline, he wanted to parallel what Otis Redding's former manager, Phil Walden, had accomplished with Capricorn. As these goals were being met, Stewart then recruited Phillip Rauls to the label for his expertise in Pop Music. This opportunity was perfect for Phillip as he was being reunited with former associates Stewart, Larry Raspberry and Don Nix. "People frequently asked me why I would leave a cushy job with Atlantic Records living in beautiful Miami and move to Memphis for a start-up position" said Phillip. "That's when I would respond by saying...There weren't any good Bar-B-Q restaurants in Miami."
STAX's executive offices were moved from the McLemore Ave. studio and relocated into the newly acquired administrative facilities that previously housed a large church congregation. How could the label's expansion program go wrong by moving upon blessed grounds?
There were a lot of moving parts banking on the key signing of Larry Raspberry and The Highsteppers. The band was the hottest new act and packing'em in like sardines at the local nightclubs. This activity earned key media respect which would transend into airplay. Raspberry, aka "The Razz," was a veteran entertainer who had previously experienced chart success as the leader of The Gentrys. Plus, he'd shared a label stint with Phillip at Atlantic as a recording artist both with the rock group Alamo and also as a solo act. Pictured above are several Highsteppers members featuring Raspberry on guitar, Carol Ferante, the former Miss Tennessee in center, and bassist Rocky Bretta.Phillip Rauls, Larry Raspberry and producer Don Nix pose for a STAX press shot at the heralded nightclub Lafayette's Music Room located in Overton Square in Memphis. Indivdually and collectively, this talented trio would serve as a integral part of the Memphis Music landscape spanning over three decades.
"Highsteppin' and Fancy Dancin" was the title of this pivotal release for the label. Nationwide the album received substantial airplay featuring songs such as; "Jive Asp, Fool in Sheep Clothing, Dixie Diner," and the single from the album, "Rock & Roll Warning."