They had shining towers of success, followed by devastating lows that included the label being forced to close up shop in , when a variety of banking concerns cut them off. Its legacy as the most important soul label ever is undebatable, and assured for history, despite it lasting for roughly 15 glory years. That was the first step. The next step was after Stax was bought by Fantasy Records. They came to me, because they knew that I knew everything that was in the vault, but they also knew that I had a lot of producing abilities with the artists. I re-launched Stax under Fantasy. It was a success story starting right away.
With help from house drummer Al Jackson, Jr. That spring, the Bar-Kays cut their first single, "Soul Finger," a playful, party-hearty instrumental punctuated by a group of neighborhood children shouting the title. Producer Allen Jones began to take an interest in the group and became their manager and mentor; even better, Otis Redding chose them as his regular backing band that summer. Unfortunately, disaster struck on December 10, He, his road manager, and four members of the Bar-Kays were killed. Trumpeter Ben Cauley survived the crash, and bassist James Alexander had not been on the flight; they soon assumed the heavy task of rebuilding the group. Adding insult to injury, the third and final single released by the original lineup, a cover of the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," was virtually ignored. Still, they were unable to land a hit of their own, and Cunningham and Gordon both left the group in ; the latter was replaced on keyboards by Winston Stewart. After playing on Isaac Hayes' hit Shaft soundtrack, Cauley and Toles both joined his backing band permanently, and were replaced by trumpeter Charles "Scoop" Allen and guitarist Vernon Burch. This new lineup took a more mainstream funk direction, scoring a minor hit with a takeoff on Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" dubbed "Copy Cat.
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In they were chosen by Otis Redding to play as his backing band and were tutored for that role by Al Jackson, Jr. Jones , and the other members of Booker T. On December 10, , Redding and four members of the band—Jimmie King born June 8, ; guitar , Ronnie Caldwell born December 27, ; electric organ , Phalon Jones born ; saxophone , and Carl Cunningham born ; drums —and their partner, Matthew Kelly, died when their airplane crashed into Lake Monona , near Madison, Wisconsin , while attempting to land at Truax Field.