When Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (brother/sister) opened their little recording studio and record shop in Memphis, they couldn’t have fortold the amazing legacy that they would leave us. The Stax sound means so much to me. The The Mar-Kay‘s Last Night was the label’s first million seller. Charles Axton, Estelle‘s son, composed the tune. Apparently, Estelle had to beg Jim to release Last Night; he even bet her $100.00 that it would never sell!
Years later, Steve Cropper, guitar player for the group, lamented that people don’t think of him historically as being in the group; the producer (Chips Moman) decided not to have guitar in the mix. He actually was on the session as an extra finger holding down the “root” on the organ part.
The Mar-Kay’s Last Night is simple; BUT, it really speaks because the musicians playing it had feel, soul. I get the feeling that the musicians generally had a pretty good time with their music in that era. The group was the Stax rhythm section with the Memphis Horns.
Let’s set the wayback for 1961; groove and do the Popeye to The Mar-Kay’s Last Night…
Personnel as determined: Jerry Lee “Smoochy” Smith keyboards; Charles “Packy” Axton tenor sax; Floyd Newman alto sax, vocal; Wayne Jackson trombone, trumpet; Donald “Duck” Dunn bass; Al Jackson Jr. Drums.
We were, of course, THE garageband generation.* We started the whole three chord, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, lead guitar and drum thing. Looking back to the music of those times, things seemed to be less complicated but, our desire to get proficient was insatiable. Those of us who couldn’t keep up with the skill needed for the evolving music, simply dropped off the radar. Me? Well, I just couldn’t get enough! Things haven’t changed!
*When a doctor checks out my ears with his scope, this is a HUGE part of what he sees.