First rising to prominence as a house band for the legendary Stax record label, the Bar-Kays have survived 40 years, 27 albums, 25 members, 23 hits, a tragic plane crash, a stroke, a murder and at least five major shifts in Black music. By consciously adapting their style to the trends of the day and constantly tuning their voice to the will of the streets, they’ve managed to make hits in every prevailing genre: R&B, Soul, Funk, Disco, Techno and even Hip Hop. Many bands had greater hits, but none have earned greater longevity. The miracle is that this band nearly ended before it began, when all but two members – Ben Cauley and James Alexander – died in the plane crash that killed singing great Otis Redding. Yet those two members rebuilt the Bar-Kays into a remarkable hit machine and never looked back.
What do you think of this Unsung story? Who do you think is unsung? Tell us in the comments, below.