The website Commercial Appeal reported that legendary record label founder Jim Stewart passed away on Monday at the age of 92.
Stewart remembered for helping to break racial barriers
A former banker from Tennessee, Stewart rose to prominence by helping to found the racially integrated music Stax Records 1957.
David Porter is a Hall of Fame songwriter, and he was quoted as saying, “Stax Records would not have existed, soul music would not have been what it was if not for what Jim did and for who he was.”
“Jim will forever be revered for providing the opportunity for me — and so many others — to do what we did,” Porter stressed.
“Regardless of how talented we might’ve been, our music would not have existed had Jim not been willing to open that door — to his studio, to his record company and to his heart,” he insisted, adding, “Jim was a catalyst, and we’ve lost a real pioneer.”
Longtime Stax publicist Deanie Parker recalled in a statement how “Mr. Stewart was the unpretentious soft-spoken diminutive white guy with a Brylcreem lathered hair part and dark fat-rim glasses that I met in 1962.”
“He gave us opportunities denied to most Blacks in America, and we gifted him an indelible Memphis sound that ‘together’ we created at Stax Records,” she said.
Stewart was admitted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2002
Tributes to Stewart quickly spread on social media, with Stax Records announcing that the company was “deeply saddened” by the death of its founder.
We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Stax Records founder Jim Stewart. Mr. Stewart passed away peacefully earlier today, surrounded by his family.
📸: Bill Carrier Jr., Courtesy of Concord pic.twitter.com/XDgM4Neuqt
— Stax Records (@StaxRecords) December 6, 2022
The website Tone Gems put out a tweet that hailed Stewart for being a “soul music pioneer” who “opened the door for so many artists, and brought races together in his recording studio in Memphis.”
A true rock and soul music pioneer has passed. RIP Jim Stewart of Stax Records. He opened the door for so many artists, and brought races together in his recording studio in Memphis.https://t.co/vNzOFiLdgu pic.twitter.com/zTPBqrgiK1
— Tone Gems (@ToneGems) December 6, 2022
Meanwhile, music critic and author Bob Mehr declared that Stewart “opened the door to a soul revolution when he launched what would become Stax Records in 1957.”
Sad news from Soulsville: Jim Stewart has died at the age of 92. A country fiddler, he opened the door to a soul revolution when he launched what would become Stax Records in 1957. A look back at Stewart’s life and remarkable legacy. https://t.co/66e4JEjRay
— Bob Mehr (@BobMehr) December 6, 2022
Commercial Appeal noted that Stewart was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He is survived by three children — Lori Stewart, Shannon Stewart, and Jeff Stewart along with his grandchildren Alyssa Luibel and Jennifer Stewart.