Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records” as Want to Read:
Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  174 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Walk the halls of the famous studio that produced hits for Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, and Booker T. and the MGs. Soulsville, U.S.A. provides the first history of the groundbreaking label along with compelling biographies of the promoters, producers, and performers who made and sold the music. Over 45 photos.
Paperback, 402 pages
Published December 22nd 2000 by Schirmer Trade Books (first published January 1st 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Soulsville, U.S.A., please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Soulsville, U.S.A.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Ben Winch
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
I was playing Wilson Pickett in the store one day when a young guy remarked that he 'loved Motown', and it sent me into a spin. Wilson Pickett Motown?! What does that mean, that every poppy/soulful dance-hit of the 1960s is Motown these days? Well I'm here to tell you, apart from the technical error - that Motown was, as I thought everyone knew, based in Detroit (the motor town, geddit?) and Wilson Pickett recorded in New York and Memphis - there's another, deeper error: Wilson Pickett doesn't s ...more
This book is not for the casual or newbie fan of Stax. It's exhaustive and tediously detailed. Bowman gives each new artist of significance a mini-background history as they come up in the label's timeline. He rightly includes a lot about how segregation and race in Stax's hometown, Memphis (MLK was assassinated there in '68 at a motel that Stax songwriters used all the time), shaped the label and its people, and Bowman even goes into detail about all the legal matters of Stax, including from be ...more
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read for any Memphian or fan of Stax. It's extremely in depth and comprehensive, which means there's a lot of great stories and info, but it can also be tough to dig through. It's not purely about music; it covers the personal back stories of many artists and staff, and also gives insight to the cultural climate of Memphis in the 60s and 70s, and even to the business details of operating Stax.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a child of the sixties and a member then of the Atlantic and Stax Appreciation Society I was very interested in this book. I found it a bit heavy and obviously USA centered, but having said that I found it thoroughly riveting and interesting.
The insight into the business world and banking world was fascinating and learning about the backgrounds of the artists we know, Otis, Sam and Dave etc. as well as those who did not feature in the UK was brilliant.
Bill Jackson
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent history of the STAX label from boom to bust. More for the hardcore STAX fan than the casual consumer, this book lets it all hang out when it comes to giving the scoop on the dealings between Jerry Wexler, Jim Stewart, and Al Bell. It gives a good play-by-play account of the demise of what was without a doubt one of the best southern studios of the time. Honestly, at times you'll find yourself angry at the way STAX was handled by the big record executives in New York, and then find y ...more
Jeff Ballew
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of soul
An incredibly in depth look at Stax records, the house of soul, the home of the "Memphis sound." It follows the record label from a small family operation to an international powerhouse, to a bankrupt operation bringing everyone down with it.

This is a dense book, and I wouldn't recommend it to you unless you get really excited by the following links...

Otis Redding -
Sam & Dave -
Book T & the MGs - http://www.
Andy Knaggs
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hard to imagine anyone could write a more comprehensive history of the legendary soul music label, its triumphs and eventual demise. Couldn't recommend it for everyone - it helps if you have a decent knowledge of the music of Stax's leading acts in the first place. Even then, Mr Bowman's encylopaedic knowledge of soul music left me in the dust. Interesting stuff towards the end about the financial debacle that brought the label to its knees as well. It's not an introduction to Stax, I would sugg ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Getting into Stax a lot as I get older, and find that whole Memphis scene tragically under-appreciated. This is definitely a book for fans of the genre, very detailed and specific focusing more on the business-related aspects (probably to save on the length) so it's a long, and not always page-turning read. Still, this book is being called a reference "go-to" for Stax, and it's impressive and worth having in a serious fan's library.
Jan 02, 2009 is currently reading it
I'm about a third of the way through the book... it's an easy to pick up, easy to put down, read a chunk at a time book You needn't be a music nut or fan to enjoy this..... one of the more interesting things so far, is the de facto discussions of race relations in in Memphis in the late 50s and early 60s. Stax was located in a predominantly black area, and was a company run with blacks and whites working side by side in a decidely non-integrated time and place
Nov 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found a remaindered copy online. The first Stax/Volt singles collection change my life, and Rob Bowman wrote the liner notes for that collection and each of the subsequent two volumes. In this book, he follows the Stax story through its rise and ensuing tragedies. It is probably only of interest to soul fans, but for them, it is absolutely essential.
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great in-depth history of Stax. Sometimes it glossed over topics I wanted to know more about, but overall it was fantastic. The 1960s at Stax seemed awesome. The 70s sounded like they tried to do way too much.

*Also found it odd to find the author inserting himself every now and then with a personal observation about music or whatever.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Bowman is the expert on all things Stax. This is more of a business book than a biography of all the great artists on the Stax roster.
I would have liked to read more on the creative processes of the artists.
Colin O'Hara
Jul 13, 2008 rated it liked it
The most detailed history imaginable of one of my favorite record labels of all time, Stax Records. Not for the light-hearted, this almost day-by-day account of the rise and fall of Stax is fascinating for fans of early soul music.
captain america
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
fantastic detail but an extremely dense read.
Joy Idowu
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
a comprehensive look at the creation of stax
a great look at the other great label of the 60s
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've picked this one up a couple of times. A good book on the history of Stax & Memphis Soul. Check out Bear Family Records for a more complete history of Memphis soul beyond Stax!
Hamid Shabankar
rated it it was amazing
Feb 28, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jul 19, 2013
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2010
rated it really liked it
Oct 26, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Nov 14, 2011
rated it really liked it
Mar 15, 2010
John Brink
rated it it was amazing
Nov 11, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2012
Anna K.
rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2014
rated it really liked it
Apr 13, 2013
Sonya Simmons
rated it it was amazing
Sep 25, 2014
Now This Sound Is Brave
rated it really liked it
Dec 03, 2010
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race  the Soul of America
  • Standing In The Shadows Of Motown: The Life And Music Of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson
  • Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'N' Roll
  • Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound
  • Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers
  • Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock 'n' Roll
  • Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion
  • Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop
  • Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, from the Banana Splits to Britney Spears
  • The Chitlin' Circuit: And the Road to Rock 'n' Roll
  • The Nearest Far Away Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience
  • Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One
  • Ascension: John Coltrane And His Quest
  • Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Music & Culture)
  • The Burden of Southern History
  • Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement
  • Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King
  • Divided Soul: The Life Of Marvin Gaye

Nonfiction Deals

  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
    $8.24 $1.99
  • A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf
    $27.00 $2.99
  • Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Room of One's Own
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Life in a Medieval City
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Too Close to Me: The Middle-Aged Consequences of Revealing A Child Called "It"
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
    $13.99 $2.99
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Heart of Christianity
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Hidden Figures
    $4.09 $1.99
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
    $7.24 $1.99
  • Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Decoded
    $9.99 $1.99
  • A Man Called Intrepid: The Incredible True Story of the Master Spy Who Helped Win World War II
    $14.99 $1.99
  • K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
    $15.99 $2.99
  • Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Beautiful Bodies
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Come to the Edge
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Communicating
    $9.49 $2.99
  • American Jezebel
    $8.24 $1.99