There were times when Al Bell felt less like a savior and more like a cipher.
Twenty years ago, he would drive into South Memphis, park his car on McLemore Avenue and sit and stare at the empty lot that had once been his dream factory, Stax Records. The old building that had produced so much glorious music, so many brilliant memories, had been reduced to rubble and quietly swept away.
In those moments, Bell would shed tears for what had been, and what had been lost.
At its peak under Bell’s stewardship in the early 1970s, Stax was a musical and cultural juggernaut, producing massive hits, selling millions of units, and serving as the apotheosis of Southern soul, civil rights and black economic liberation.