Chancellor of Soul's Chronicles-Journals Dedicated To The
Historical Preservation Of R&B, Pop and It's Artists and Music


James Carr

 (The Essence of Southern Soul)




The essence of southern soul in description is the moral emotional nature enhanced within the artists’ spirituality,  therefore releasing certain mannerisms that represents their background or social circumstances. In a nutshell, their experience with hardship, heartbreak and racism.


This particular artist may not have enjoy the commercial success as his southern alumni predecessors such as James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Joe Tex but would leave a legacy of everlasting hard core gut wrenched soul that continues to drench the emotions of fans because of his ability as a soul communicator.


I present to you soul fans….. The immortal James Carr.


Born on June 13, 1942 in Coahoma County, Mississippi near Clarksdale. During his infancy years, James’ parents brought the family to Memphis, Tenn where his musical background began in church. His family formed a gospel group called the Southern Wonders Juniors when James was 9 years of age. As an adult, he gained most of his experience on the road, as a member of the Sunset Travelers and the Harmony Echoes, while working as a laborer and supporting a family. Through his travels, James met singer/songwriter, Roosevelt Jamison in 1962. Jamison, a member of the Redemption Harmonizers, developed a friendship with James through encounters at various gospel revivals.


Jamison worked at the Interstate Blood Bank and the  City of Memphis Hospital while managing the Redemption Harmonizers, the Ovations and the late O. V. Wright of the Sunset Travelers. Through personnel contact with Richar Sanders, sax player for singer Roscoe Gordon, Jamison was able to secure a connection with Quinton Claunch founder of Goldwax Records in Memphis, Tenn. Claunch signed James Carr, the Ovations, and O. V. Wright in 1964, after Jamison showed up at his house one evening with  a tape deck full of songs.


Goldwax released a 1964 soul classic entitled, ‘There Goes My Used To Be’ b/w ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’. The latter written by Jamison for O. V Wright backed by the Keys was favored by local

dee jays and was later covered by Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones. Don Robey founder of Duke/ Peacock Records, filed a   lawsuit against Goldwax claiming that Wright was under contract  to Peacock because of his association with the Sunset Travelers,  this led to O. V. signing with Peacock’s subsidiary label, Back Beat.



Goldwax now channeled their energies through James Carr and although his first single in 1964, ‘You Don't Want Me’ b/w ‘Only Fools Run Away’ was a commercial flop, would claim victory two years later with the release of his first charted hit, ‘You've Got My  My Mind Messed Up’ b/w ‘That’s What I Want To Know’ (No. 7 on Billboard’s R&B singles, the week ending Sat May 14, 1966).  A self-titled mono LP ‘You've Got My Mind Messed Up’ released  in late 1966 hit (No 25 on the R&B LP charts Sat March 25, 1967)



His next two releases ‘Love Attack’ b/w ‘Coming Back To Me Baby’  (No. 21 R&B Aug 27, 1966) and my favorite toe tapper, ‘Pouring Water On A Drowning Man’ b/w ‘Forgetting You’ (No.23 R&B Sat. Nov 26, 1966) barely cracked the top R&B top twenty position but earned his reputation with soul audiences around the country  as the singer with the southern growl.



The masterpiece track that established James Carr’s milestone in southern soul is ‘The Dark End Of The Street’. Composed by Dan Penn and Chips Moman in a hotel room in Nashville during a poker game, the song about infidelity, is considered one of the  finest recordings in soul history. James’ vocal abilities are compelling,  capturing the ear of listeners as he outlines the tale of his camouflaged

love in the darkness of the night. ‘The Dark End Of The Street’ b/w ‘Lovable Girl’ (another masterpiece) (charted No. 10 on the R&B singles the week ending, Sat March 11, 1967). Dan Penn is singing along with Carr on this superb ballad.


James sustained his chart ability with other deep southern classics, ‘Let It Happen’ b/w ‘A Losing Game’ (No.30 R&B July 15, 1967), ‘I’m A Fool For You’ b/w ‘Gonna Send You Back To Georgia’ (the

late Timmy Shaw 64’ classic) (No.42 R&B Sat Oct 7, 1967), ‘A Man Needs A Woman’ b/w ‘Stronger Than Love’ (No.16 R&B Sat.  March 9, 1968), ‘Freedom Train’ b/w ‘That’s The Way Love Turned Out For Me’ (No.39 R&B Sat Jan 18, 1969) the Bee Gees revival,‘To Love Somebody’ b/w ‘These Ain’t Raindrops’ (No.44 R&B Sat. April 19, 1969), his last charted entry.  Goldwax released James’ sophomore LP ‘A Man Needs A Woman’ in late summer of 1968’


Bell Records issued a compilation mono LP entitled ‘More For Your Money’ in 1968 featuring soul artists such as James Carr, Lee Dorsey, the Emperors Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Van Dykes, James & Bobby Purify and the Viscounts. A must find in the vinyl collecting community.


The end of era for Goldwax Records came when Bell terminated their distribution deal with Quinton Claunch and partner Doc Russell in 1969. Claunch shifted James Carr’s contract to Atlantic Records in 1971 where he recorded one uncharted single. For the next 5 years, Carr went into semi-retirement

in Florida, until Roosevelt Jamison released a single on Carr on his label  in 1977. In 1979, the two toured Japan for a soul revue.


Sadly, Carr suffered a lifetime of bipolar disorder and would go into a hypnotic trance while performing on stage. He passed away on Sunday,  January 7, 2001.


 James Carr’s great contribution to southern soul continues to live though releases of countless imported CD compilations around the world. His ‘Dark End of The Street’ was featured in the movie ‘The Commitments’ and has been recorded by such established artists as Aretha Franklin Joe Tex, Little Milton and Percy Sledge.          


No one can remove an individual talent from an artist’s inner soul nor can they erase their everlasting legacy that has continued to store upon our musical memory. James Carr’s is example of such charismatic artistry that has proven unmatched for his outstanding ability as a performer.


 A candlelight made out of Goldwax continues to guide music lovers with an internal flame through the dark end of the streets to find a place that continues to satisfy the essence of our musical being.  ‘Soulsville U.S.A.’



Soulfully Yours,

     Mike Boone      

(Chancellor of Soul)



July 2007




Materials should not be used or altered without the expressed

                                  permission of the author, Mike Boone, Chancellor of Soul








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