Bar-Kays - Songs


The Bar-Kays are a highly acclaimed and veteran R&B/soul/funk group with a tragic early history that became famous beginning in the late 1960s. Their best known songs include the instrumental "Soul Finger" (1967) and the funky "Shake Your Rump To The Funk" (1976), "Holy Ghost" (1978), "Move Your Boogie Body" (1979), "Hit And Run" (1981), and "Freakshow On The Dance Floor" (1984).

Formed in 1966 in Memphis, Tennessee, the original sextet consisted of longtime member James Alexander (bass) and organist Ronnie Caldwell (December 27, 1948 - December 10, 1967), trumpeter Ben Cauley (October 3, 1947 - September 21, 2015), drummer Carl Cunningham (December 27, 1948 - December 10, 1967), saxophonist Phalon Jones (ca. 1948 - December 10, 1967), and guitarist Jimmy King (June 8, 1949 - December 10, 1967). Working closely with Al Jackson and other members of Booker T. & The M.G.'s, they began at Stax Records as session musicians backing the label's various top acts. The Bar-Kays served as Otis Redding's backing band for most of 1967 up to his untimely death from a plane crash. Along with Redding, all Bar-Kays members perished except for Alexander, who was on another plane, and Cauley, who was the only survivor of the crash. Alexander and Cauley then reformed The Bar-Kays with new members Ronnie Gorden (organ), Harvey Henderson (saxophone), Willie Hall (drums), and Michael Toles (guitar), and Larry Dodson (formerly of The Temprees) joined soon after as lead singer. Cauley left in 1971, and over the years, the group had many other personnel changes. In addition to their long career as recording artists, The Bar-Kays also continued as a backing band for such top Stax artists as Isaac Hayes. They appeared in the 1973 documentary, "Wattstax."

The Bar-Kays debuted in 1967 with "Soul Finger," which reached #3 on the R&B charts and became their greatest Pop/Rock crossover hit, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. After two more instrumental hits in 1967 with "Knucklehead" and "Give Everybody Some," they re-emerged on both charts in late 1971 with "Son Of Shaft," followed by such crossover favorites as "Shake Your Rump To The Funk" (1976), "Too Hot To Stop (Pt. 1)" (1977), "Move Your Boogie Body" (1979), "Today Is The Day" (1980), and "Freakshow On The Dance Floor" (1984). Their long string of hits, which continued on the R&B charts through 1995, also include "Holy Ghost" (1978), "Boogie Body Land" (1980), "Hit And Run" (1981), "Do It (Let Me See You Shake)" (1982), "Certified True" (1987), and "Struck By You" (1989).

After taking an extended break beginning in 1989, The Bar-Kays reformed in 1991 and have continued performing and recording to the present day. Trumpeter Ben Cauley passed in 2015, leaving James Alexander as the only surviving original member. The Bar-Kays were inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2013) and the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame (2015).


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