Atlantic Records’ Soul Years

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Atlantic Records has a long and storied history based around two popular eras throughout its lifespan: the soul and rock eras respectively. Both Joe Morris and The Clovers were hit acts that kicked off Atlantic’s presence in the soul and rhythm and blues scenes. By the time the company acquired Stax Records, it had already signed and produced hits by the likes of Ray Charles, The Coasters and Bobby Darin.

It was Solomon Burke who really put Atlantic’s soul offerings on the map, kicking off an era of the 60s categorized by some of the most iconic artists in recording history. Dusty Springfield, Pink Floyd, Doris Troy, Aretha Franklin and more signed during this era.

Doris Troy began as a backup act to Dusty Springfield before launching her own recordings. Her song “Just One Look” has been covered by many artists throughout the history of music.

1967 was a new peak for the recording company. Aretha Franklin had risen to become “The Queen of Soul”, and she officially came on board in 1967. Aretha’s husband was rumored to have caused a great deal of tension during those recording sessions, but under the direction of Frank Wexler Franklin made a successful transition back to her roots in gospel. That year, she recorded “I Never Loved a Man,” “Respect”, Baby, I Love You”, “Chain of Fools” and “Since You’ve Been Gone” among others.

The company also signed Sonny & Cher, who would land on the Billboard Top 100 with “I Got You Babe,” a soulful single that would sell more than a million copies in the USA.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn.