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Percy Sledge and the Southern Soul Revolution | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
April 16: 9 a.m.
Posted by Charles L Hughes

Sledge’s spare, aching ballad – the still-iconic “When A Man Loves A Woman” – not only set a musical template for deep soul, but also reflected the unique musical alchemy that made Muscle Shoals and southern soul into an international symbol of cultural change. ....By the end of the 1960s, southern-soul was one of the most prominent styles of popular music and a symbol for racial breakthrough in the era of Civil Rights and Black Power. -
'60s  black_liberation_movement  black_nationalism  Percy_Sledge  tributes  obituaries  soul  Muscle_Shoals  singers  music  songwriters  southern_soul  discrimination  Black_Power 
april 2015 by jerryking
Percy Sledge, Who Sang 'When A Man Loves a Woman,' Dies - NYTimes.com
APRIL 14, 2015| By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A No. 1 hit in 1966, "When a Man Loves a Woman" was Sledge's debut single, an almost unbearably heartfelt ballad with a resonance he never approached again. Few singers could have. Its mood set by a mournful organ and dirge-like tempo, "When a Man Loves a Woman" was for many the definitive soul ballad, a testament of blinding, all-consuming love haunted by fear and graced by overwhelming emotion.

The song was a personal triumph for Sledge, who seemed on the verge of sobbing throughout the production, and a breakthrough for Southern soul.
obituaries  singers  African-Americans  Muscle_Shoals  cancers  '60s  music  Percy_Sledge  southern_soul 
april 2015 by jerryking
Book Review: 'Respect Yourself' by Robert Gordon - WSJ.com
Nov. 15, 2013 | WSJ | By David Kirby.

Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion
By Robert Gordon
Bloomsbury, 463 pages, $30
music  music_labels  Stax  book_reviews  books  soul  Memphis  Muscle_Shoals 
november 2013 by jerryking
Southern rock's passion and romance is marred by racism and bigotry | Music | The Guardian
Barney Hoskyns
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 April 2012

The film, Sweet Home Alabama ,pulls us back to the early 70s peaks of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, making us reflect anew on what southern rock really meant.

Was Skynyrd's anthem of the same name a song of defiant pride, cocking a snook at Neil Young's Southern Man, or was it something much worse – a strutting defence of old Confederate values, complete with egregious tip of the stetson to segregationist governor George Wallace? Sweet Home Alabama is a stonking song, but Skynyrd's singer Ronnie van Zant wanted it both ways: to be both a bourbon-chugging rock rebel and the Yankee-baiting bigot that Young was decrying.

"Those of us who have characterised [Van Zant] as a misunderstood liberal," wrote Mark Kemp – one of Maycock's interviewees – in his excellent book Dixie Lullaby, "have done so only to placate our own irrational feelings of shame for responding to the passion in his music."

At least the Allman Brothers had an African American – drummer Jai Johnny "Jaimoe" Johanson – in their ranks. Jaimoe had toured with Otis Redding, arguably the key influence on southern rockers from the Allmans to the Black Crowes, and it was Redding's former manager Phil Walden who, in 1969, set up the label most identified with southern rock – Macon, Georgia's Capricorn Records.

"To the young white southerner, black music always appealed more than white pop music," Walden, who died in 2006, told me. "Certainly the Beach Boys' surfing stuff never would have hacked it in the south. It was too white and it just wasn't relevant. The waves weren't too high down here."

Sweet Home Alabama doesn't shirk from the fact that southern rock was born partly of the deepening racial divide that opened up after Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. "By the end of the decade, a lot of the results of the civil rights era had served to urbanise black music," Walden said in my 1985 interview with him. "A lot of the people we had considered friends were suddenly calling us blue-eyed devils."

The racial cross-pollination of the southern soul era in Alabama hotspot Muscle Shoals (namechecked in Skynyrd's Sweet Home) came to a shuddering halt. Black music got blacker while white southern rock went back to its first principles of melding country music with rhythm'n'blues.

"In a sense the evolution of southern rock was a reactionary attempt to return rock'n'roll to its native soil," suggested the Texan writer Joe Nick Patoski. "After the decline of interest in rockabilly, white rock in the South had taken a back seat to country and western and soul."

Not that anyone anticipated the way southern rock effortlessly flowed into the post-60s counterculture, with the Allmans eventually co-headlining 1973's colossal Watkins Glen festival with the Band and the Grateful Dead. Along with Skynyrd, who were managed by Phil Walden's brother Alan and whose epic Free Bird mourned the death of Duane Allman, a second wave of southern groups – from the Marshall Tucker Band to Black Oak Arkansas – was soon sweeping the US. Some of them even played a modest part in getting peanut-farming Georgia boy Jimmy Carter into the White House.

Carter, of course, was a liberal and 180 degrees from the segregationist politics of Wallace. So indeed were most of the bands that recorded for Capricorn until the label went bust in the late 70s. Yet the supposed "romance" of the south touted by those outfits is hard to separate from the legacy of slavery and racism.

Southern rock has lived on in the very different iterations represented by the Black Crowes, the Georgia Satellites, the Kentucky Headhunters, Kings of Leon, Drive-By Truckers, American Idol contestant Bo Bice, and of course REM (whose Mike Mills reminisces in Sweet Home Alabama about attending Capricorn's annual picnics). The music's ornery fuck-you spirit meanwhile endures in the work of the charming Toby Keith and his kind. Yet the ambiguities of Van Zant's famous lyric are as troubling as ever, despite the apologia for it offered in Maycock's film by self-styled "redneck negress" Kandia Crazy Horse.

White skin, red necks, blue collars, black music: Sweet Home Alabama tells a quintessential American story that never quite ends.

Sweet Home Alabama: The Southern Rock Saga is on BBC4 at 9 pm on Friday 13 April.
'70s  Black_Crowes  films  Lynyrd_Skynyrd  MLK  movies  music  Muscle_Shoals  the_South  country_rock  Southern_rock  bigotry  racism 
september 2012 by jerryking

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