Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stax Studios Dateline 4th April 1968

Moments after assassination of Martin Luther King 4/4/68

Shirley Walton Send Peace And Harmony Home

Last night, I caught an excellent documentary entitled The Soul Of Stax on the UK Satellite station Artsworld. The documentary was a French production made in 1993 and directed by Brian Priestley. This was an insightful study with interviews with many people involved in the success of Stax including founders Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton plus many of the artists and musicians involved. There was also some terrific archive footage which is different to other Stax documentaries and makes the documentary all the more worthwhile. One interesting aspect was comparing Memphis in 1993 with now especially with the resurrection of the Stax building and the development of the Stax Museum Of American Soul.

One poignant moment in the film was when Al Bell told of the moment when he heard that Martin Luther King had been shot in Memphis. Al Bell was producing Shirley Walton at the Stax Studio on McLemore Avenue in Memphis when the door burst opened and someone said that Dr King had been shot dead. They had been working on "Send Peace And Harmony Home", a song Al Bell, Eddie Floyd and Booker T. Jones had written for Dr. King. Al Bell had the opportunity to tell Dr. King that they were working on the song when Dr. King first arrived in Memphis and it was to become a testament to the Dr. King's work.

Before the sad news, Shirley Walton had been struggling with the song "Send Peace And Harmony Home". With the news of Dr. King's death in her mind, Bell said Shirley went back into the studio and captured the song straight off. It was to be her last recording session and she left to become a model. This was after she had come to Stax with plenty of promise after Al Bell had heard Shirley singing in Los Angeles. She also had spent 2 years working with the Joe Tex Revue before moving onto singing the club circuit.

Her 2 45's are:

Enterprise 001 : I Was Born To Love You / I'm So Glad You're Back
Enterprise 004 : Send Peace And Harmony Home / The One You Can't Have All By Yourself

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