'crossover' malarky

Ray Mikell mojo@kopower.com
Wed Jul 16 02:06:45 EDT 1997

Riffin Rick writes:
>I was watching PBS last night, 'Rock & Roll' documentary, the segment on
>early Motown, Stax, Memphis period, and they used the term "transition"
>and "crossover" a lot to describe music that had the lyrical beauty and
>content of gospel, but had the emphatic backbeat up front in the mix to
>give it popular appeal to predominantly white radio audiences and the
>greater record-buying public that wanted to dance, dance, dance.

It was one half Motown, one-fourth Stax, one-fourth Muscle Shoals. First
half regarding Motown was about appealing to whites, second half was just
doing whatever came naturally. Wilson Pickett in fact sold primarily to
black audiences, though Percy Sledge sold to a ton of whites, including a
lot of country fans, I'm told. To this day, he still plays a country bar in
Mississippi about 20 miles away from house, regularly. Wilson still got a
lot of black fans out, though when I saw him in Jackson, Miss. recently I'd
say his audience it was 65 percent white. But only 'cause it was a big fest
and Wilson's big hits have long since become known by all. Stax definitely
sold to a black audience, and crossed over only after Monterrey, and own his
own terms.
  'course, Motown was black-owned and Stax and Muscle Shoals' FAME studio
were white-owned with white musicians on staff (and in the case of M.S., ALL
white people with the occasional outside black guy brought in, such as Bobby
Womack). Ironic, yep, and few on blues-l care and obviously in this case
didn't pay any attention.

"For God's sake let's have a little more freakish behavior -- not less."
  -- Tennessee Williams, 1945

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