Bar-Kays first played together in 1966 as a backing band on Stax Records. There were 6 original band members; Jimmy King, Ronnie Caldwell, Phalon Jones, Carl Cunningham, Ben Cauley, and James Alexander. Just as their career was taking off King, Caldwell, Jones and Cunningham along with Otis Redding and his manager, were killed in a plane crash over Lake Monona. Cauley and Alexander were on a separate plane since there was only enough room for 8 passengers.
After some time, the remaining members began to rebuild the band. They found success playing for Isaac Hayes on his albums “Hot Buttered Soul”, “Shaft”, “Movement” and “To Be Continued”. The Bar-Kays were immediately recognized as a band with a lot of talent and were eventually signed to Mercury Records.
Soul Finger was released in 1967 and reached #3 on the R&B chart. Other hits include Son Of Shaft (1972), Shake Your Rump To The Funk (1976), Lets Have Some Fun (1978), Hit & Run (1981), and Freak Show on the Dance Floor (1984).
Many hip hop artists have been influenced by The Bar-Kays such as; Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, De La Soul, Edan, Public Enemy, and The Beastie Boys.
I first heard the Freak Show On The Dance Floor when it was featured in the movie "Breakin". I thought the song was kind of cool, and the chorus was catchy. As I got older I was able to appreciate the talent of the entire band, both new and old members. Hit & Run is constantly in my playlist whenever I play out.
The Bar-Kays are still available for booking and will be playing at the Monterey Blues Festival on June 24th. They still put on a pretty dope show and are worth checking out if you get the chance.