Dr. Rev. W. J. Stafford is not a stranger to the Georgia Soul blog, and some new pictures have surfaced which are absolutely worthy of sharing with you today. The folks over at the Atlanta History Center have digitized an impressive collection of photographs taken by Boyd Lewis, which contains a group of photos taken at a W.J. Stafford press conference when he opened his Soul Expedition night club in Underground Atlanta in 1972. Within these photographs are some nice candid shots of Freddie Terrell’s Soul Expedition Band warming up behind Rev. Stafford. Unfortunately, their terms and conditions prevent me from posting any of the photos here and I haven’t received any explicit permission to post their photos here. However, I would encourage you all to click through to their web site to check out the photos. It’s worth your time! If they allow me to post one of the photos, I certainly will be happy to amend this blog post with a picture.
Photos such as these are extremely rare in the research of Georgia Soul music, and I was excited to have stumbled upon them somewhat randomly, while researching something completely unrelated. While Freddie Terrell himself doesn’t appear in any of the pictures, it is still pretty exciting to be able to identify band members Johnny Davenport (vocals), Steve Rushing (bass), Eli Rivers (trumpet), Ralph Favors (sax) and Eddie Maxey (drums) in some of the shots. Eddie Maxey, as you may have learned from the Georgia Soul blog, or Colin Dilnot’s excellent Dark End of the Street blog, was also the vocalist for the Blue Rhythm Combo, and the Soul Expedition band. These musicians also played on Hermon Hitson’s “Ain’t No Other Way” 45 on Sweet Rose, among other recordings (Hannibal’s “Truth” album also springs to mind).
The Soul Expedition Night Club was only open for a short time, as Stafford came under fire for owning night clubs (and liquor licenses) while also maintaining his position as a Reverend, and running for the office of Mayor of Atlanta in 1973. Were that not enough, it seems likely that there was a segment of Atlanta who may have been out for any excuse to hurt Rev. Stafford’s reputation after he ruffled some feathers with his second night club “Soul On Top of Peachtree” at the top of the National Bank of Georgia building downtown. Stafford sold both businesses, and still lost the 1973 Mayoral election to Maynard Jackson.
If, by chance, you still haven’t heard the Soul Expedition album, well, good luck finding an original. A reissue from Jazzman Records in England is also now out of print, though you can still find copies of their CD somewhat readily for sale on the internet. W.J. Stafford’s album recorded with the Soul Expedition Band has still seen no reissue and the 1970 original remains elusive at best.