Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Roughly a week ago, the Mystery Suggester recommended the song "Hung Over" by the Martinis. Like a lot of songs that happen to hit the spot, it opened up a rabbit hole. That would be the Packy Axton hole. Axton was in the Martinis, and as it turns out, a compilation was recently released with a bunch of various projects that he was involved in. (The Mystery Suggester had sent me a YouTube audio clip, so I'm thinking it was a coincidence.)

As I sauntered down the Axton rabbit hole, it became apparent that his contribution to the Memphis R&B sound was pretty significant. He started out with high school buddies Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn (who you had better know), in a band called the Royal Spades. His mom, Estelle Axton, and uncle, Jim Stewart were just starting a record label, Satellite Records, which would become Stax. The band recorded "Last Night," credited to the Mar-Keys when released, right as the label was getting off the ground, and it became a hit. While his mom, uncle, Cropper and Dunn later benefited mightily from the Stax hit parade that would follow, Axton pretty much sabotaged his opportunity. As his drinking and partying becgan to escalate, he fell out of grace with Stewart and Cropper, and by 1965 he was persona non grata at Stax. He continued to record with several instrumental combos, the Pac-Keys, the Packers, and the Martinis, among others. His drinking finally did him in, and in 1974, while living back at his mom's, he died. He was 32.

The Mar-Keys - Last Night mp3 at Rocky-52.net
The Pac-Keys - Dig In mp3 at Office Naps
The Packers - Hole In the Wall mp3 at The Hound Blog
The Martinis - Hung Over mp3 at Rare Funk On 45
The Pac-Keys - Stone Fox mp3 (via divShare) at Burn Wood Tonight (At DivShare, click on green "Download" button)
Two more Packy Axton cuts at Soul Sides (One from the Pac-Keys and one from the Martinis.)
Other non-Packy Axton unrelated, yet also swinging instrumentals:
The Del-Rays - Night Prowl mp3 at Office Naps
Lorenzo the Hat & the Mad Hatters - Fun-Key mp3 at Office Naps
Packy Axton - Profile at The Hound Blog
Packy Axton - Profile at Go Memphis
Packy Axton - Late Late Party compilation at Light In the Attic
Booker T. and Beyond at Office Naps


S R Management said...

You can't feature the Mar-Keys and not mention Don Nix. He's the tall dark haired dude blowing sax, front and center. He went on to work with Leon Russell, Freddie King, George Harrison, and many others. There is a good insight to Memphis music in his book "Road Stories and Recipes". Worth finding!

Tom G said...

You are correct sir. But, as that was a post about Packy Axton, I fought the urge to expand on the Mar-Keys in general. But that's given me an idea for a future post. Stay tuned, it may be soon!