Estelle Axton, co-founder of the famed Stax Records Co. in Memphis, which generated hits from acts including Sam and Dave, Otis Redding Jr. and The Staple Singers, died of natural causes on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004, at the hospice at Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis. She was 85. The musicians on the soul record label called Axton ``Lady A.'' ``Were it not for her, there's no way Stax could have become what it became,'' said David Porter. Porter and Isaac Hayes co-wrote numerous Stax hits, including Sam and Dave's ``Soul Man'' and ``Hold On, I'm Coming.'' Hayes said Axton was responsible for the racial harmony at Stax:``You didn't feel any backoff from her, no differentiation that you were black and she was white ... She was like a mother to us all.''
AP/The Commercial Appeal, Mike Maple, file
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