From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Stax Records is an American record label founded in 1957, originally based out of Memphis, Tennessee. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and blues recordings. While Stax almost exclusively produced African-American music, the label was founded by two white businesspeople, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, and featured several popular ethnically-integrated bands, including the label's house band, Booker T. & the MG's.
Following the death of Stax's biggest star, Otis Redding, in 1967 and the severance of the label's distribution deal with Atlantic Records in 1968, Stax continued primarily under the supervision of a new co-owner, Al Bell. Over the next five years, Bell expanded the label's operations significantly, in order to compete with Stax's main rival, Motown Records in Detroit. During the mid-1970s, a number of factors caused the label to slide into insolvency, resulting in its forced closure in late 1975.
Fantasy Records acquired the post-1968 Stax catalog in 1978, and reissued the material in various formats for several decades. After Concord Records acquired Fantasy in 2004, the Stax label was reactivated, and is today used to issue both the 1968–1975 catalog material and new recordings by current R&B/soul performers.