Jim Stewart (record producer)

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Jim Stewart
Born (1930-07-29) July 29, 1930 (age 92)
Middleton, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation(s)Record executive, record producer
Years active1957–1975

Jim Stewart (born July 29, 1930) is an American record executive and record producer who co-founded Stax Records, one of the leading recording companies during soul and R&B music's heydays in the 1960s and 1970s. The label also scored many hits on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart during this time.

Life and career[edit]

Raised on a farm in Middleton, Tennessee, Stewart moved to Memphis in 1948 after graduating from high school. He worked at Sears and the First National Bank and then was drafted into the United States Army. After serving for two years, Stewart returned to his job as a bank clerk in Memphis in 1953.[1]

Stewart was a part-time fiddle player and joined a local country music group, the Canyon Cowboys. He worked days as a banker at Union Planters Bank. In 1957, Stewart launched his own record label, then called Satellite Records, which issued country music and rockabilly records. His sister, Estelle Axton, mortgaged her home to invest in her brother's venture by buying an Ampex 300 tape recorder.

In 1959, the label moved into the former Capitol Theatre in Memphis. (The label's name 'STAX' is a combination of STewart and AXton) The auditorium was converted to studio space, and the stage was made into the a control room. To save money, Stewart did not level the floor. This created unique acoustics, which are noticeable in the recordings made there, with many featuring a heavy, bassy sound.

After selling millions of records during its history, Stax went bankrupt in 1976. Stewart kept a low profile and intensely protected his privacy. When he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, he sent his granddaughter Jennifer to the induction ceremony to accept the award on his behalf.


  1. ^ Cogan, Jim; Clark, William, Temples of sound : inside the great recording studios, San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 2003. ISBN 0-8118-3394-1. Cf. pp. 65–66.

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