M1 It was my whole idea because I had a couple of guys who had me put a couple of legs and lines in there, but it was my idea, the melody and everything. So but I gave it to Lewis and. Right.

F4 Yeah. And did you always have that incredible heart wrenching passion when you sang the song?

M1 Well, my friend tells me that, you know, that I'm just a one star singer, you know, singing from the heart and with strong feeling. So I guess that's what I always call myself. Whatever I am, whatever my fans take me to be, whatever they call me, that's what I am, you know.

F4 And how did you happen to get signed for land records?

M1 I was very fortunate because when we did when a man loves a woman, we had two or three of us. We had Motown, we also had STAC. But we happened to meet a guy by the name of Jerry Wexler. And Quinn got to know him. And he we thought that going to Atlantic would be a great label for us. Jerry convinced us that, you know, and we are so happy that we we chose Atlantic Records, Atlantic, as has been so much more precious to his career. I'm not saying the other labels might have been better as good, but we're satisfied with Atlantic now.

F4 When you were there, you work in Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama. Tell me a little bit about Muscle Shoals of that period of time. I first met Jerry Wexler at Muscle Shoals.

M1 It's a very beautiful town, you know, right there in the Tennessee Valley, great outdoors, fishing, hunting, and every day, you know, cotton and corn. And that's where I grew up, picking and chopping cotton. But when we have Major Wedgeworth to Quin Ivy and I don't know the queen major into Bad Goldsborough, I'm not called Bad Goldberg now is my my producer now in California. But it goes between Barry Goldberg recall and the week when I met Jerry Wexler and quite naturally when Quinn met him, then I was introduced to him, but he taught me one of the most greatest guys I've known great years I've ever known. And the music was Jerry Wexler.

F4 Did you ever meet Ahmet Ertegun?

M11 I met him in New York at a party that Atlantic Records was given for me.

M6 And what was your first impression, Mr. Right, wonderful person he loved when a man loves a woman.

M12 So that really made me stay in bed when he was just really a nice person and you possibly use his name.

F4 I'm going to take my voice out, so. It'd be helpful to me if you were talking about it, if you could just use his name is Ahmed. So let me just ask you again. Tell me what it was like when you first met ometer.

M13 Well, like I said, he was a guy, you know, that came along with all the other people that I made in show business during that time and we've all seen the ads to Phillips, was that a wonderful thing? When a woman loves a man and we all had champagne together and very interesting conversation, very warm, just a nice person, very much like Jerry Wexler. I really enjoyed his company.

F4 What impact did they have on your coming here?

M11 Well, like I say, they found a little country boy and with a great voice. And I would say that they gave me a lot of confidence to believe in myself, that I could do anything with this voice because I didn't have any education with music or anything like that. And Ahmed and Jerry Wexler and Clint Ivied even recalled all the guys out of Muscle Shoals. They gave me so much confidence in myself.

F4 And tonight, being inducted, it meant something.

M14 Oh, I can't. It's just unbelievable sitting here talking to you and talking about people like Jane Diamond and Quin Ivy and all of those guys. Thirty nine years ago. I go back, all the memories just flash back to my mind, saying everything that's involved in the world rain, snow, sky highway jungles and here I am now being inducted into one of the most glamorous award places a man singing could ever walk. And that is the Hall of Fame. It's just something that you just can't describe. You know, when I got my Grammy, I thought that was it. You know, the world's greatest fear was that a guy could ever receive this one. It's just unbelievable because all the years, all the memories when they say you have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, me so many great, great singers that affects some of my great friends going be inducted.

M12 I love so much that those guys are here. That's the O'Jays.

M15 I love those guys and proud to be with people like Elvis Presley and so many other great singers. And the Hall of Fame is it's undescribable. You can't even describe it.

F4 Were you influenced by. Were you influenced by Elvis Presley?

M14 Oh, yeah, I grew up with Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley, one of my favorite idols, him and Hank Williams, singing of the country singer because see where I was born and raised that we had it was a small town late, and that's about eight miles from Muscle Shoals. And of course, the day while I was in Muscle Shoals. But they didn't have to play anything but country music. And I grew up listening to Elvis and country music, Jim Reeves and all those guys, you know, and I found my style when I got to be 14 years old and I could pick up on this record Miljan out of Nashville late at night. And then I could hear rock and roll and soul music, Wilson Pickett and people like that that I admire so much today. And I used to sing all of these guys songs and I didn't know my classmates all predicted me to be on Broadway one day. I didn't think I would do it. I love to sing.

M16 They love to hear me sing. But I didn't I never did believe that I could be a singer. I was playing great baseball at that time. I wanted to be a baseball player, but all my classmates, the teachers, everybody just really enjoyed to hear me sing, you know? And during those days, we didn't have no guitars and we had piano.

M12 But with a little belt tightening group that I was singing with, we didn't even have piano. We just stood up and sang. And guess what kind of microphone? We use a public speaking microphone. I think it's ringing the well, who was making making a great sound?

M16 All the kids loved it, you know, but it's just so many wonderful memories. I could go on and on, but I was to be and to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

M15 It's just just grammas. Unbelievable.

F4 We can ask you if someone's here right now. Is the tape here?

F2 We're going to ask you very quickly.

F1 Everybody has a song for us in first song that Ahmet Ertegun wrote many years ago called Don't Play That Song for Me.

M3 Do you know that song?

M17 Don't play that song for me. I don't play that song and I play you just the very beginning. Yes. I like to hear what we're doing.

M2 I want to know what are you doing?

M3 It's going to be a collage of the life with Eric Clapton. He's already done this. Robert Plant. Jimmy Page. We weren't used to the live vocal to any extent, but it's just as the credits roll, because that was a song that I wrote to use that, you know, Benny recorded, as you probably know, Aretha had a hit with it.

M2 I know. I remember that song. I remember through the during the King, the Benny Kings, the cuts. I believe that's right.

M18 Danny Benny had the big hit with it and then Aretha covered it.

M2 Oh, yeah. I just sang that song. Yeah.

F1 OK, give us a lot more for you.

M17 Oh, no, that's OK. You can play. I love it. You know I love it.

M2 Yeah, I've sung the song with. Oh, no, no, no, you won't. No, I won't sing.

F1 Oh, that's what. That's what everyone did. They sing just like one loves. They don't play.

M2 Well then Chuck the Chuck Jackson do that song also.

M3 I don't think so. I think it wrote it because Betty, you know, had to stand by me and Betty.

M2 So that was should there be any gays roots, that song Freedom like a glove. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

M3 Let me just ask you one final thing, if you please, sir. You mentioned meeting all the first time with Esther Phillips.

M1 Yeah, we were having a big party for me somewhere on Broadway.

M3 Can I just interrupt you while you're saying it? Because we want to set this up in the right way. And you said a lovely thing just before you said it about how long it love the song. You broke up into a smile. I'd like to sort of kind of finish on that thing, if you will not see it again.

M2 I don't know.

M4 You said that you at the party with Esther Phillips and I loved, uh. And I'll make love with a man you just broke into a great smile. I know it's hard to do that again, but could you just say I'm an artist and I'm an artist? Ahmet Ertegun at a party with Esther Phillips on Broadway. He really loved that song. Yeah, that is that very cool for me.

M5 Yeah, I met met on Broadway with me and has to fill up and Wilson Pickett a bunch, I was at a party.

M2 That Atlantic Records was given for me with my record with no one. So it was a lot of a lot of.

M4 Perfect, perfect. Thank you. Thank you.

M2 I hope I did it right.

F1 I'm like a lost ball and how we, you know, see one little phrase first for don't play.

M5 No, no, I can't sing in line and nothing.

M2 No, thank you for being the king of a song I sung it to because I loved his music so much.

F1 When you did when you sang Don't play that song for me. Did you sing it as a record?

M6 Oh, no, no. I sang it on stage. You may do to have a credit on the record and you have a record I can listen to.

M7 Oh, no, no, I never recorded images in my house. And, you know, I played so many songs by my favorite artists, even Elvis.

M8 You know, I even pick songs that I do on my show. The Lovely tended to love travel where I wasn't thinking midnight. I was always wearing zero dark. I really can stand by me and I'll let you know, I'd love to be able to have that right there.

F1 Can you sit down and say that for me doing that really be helpful?

M7 You really. I don't know what I said, but I'm just just one more second. Still running. Yes.

F1 I asked you I just ask you one more time, I said, did you ever do a record of don't play that song for me?

M2 No, I never did a record of it, but I sang it before on stage. Betty King, just about every song that he ever sang, always wanted to sing it. And plus, my favorite artists have songs that I like. I always throw extra songs in like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, The Midnight Hours I was sitting on the Dock of the Bay. And I only know it's just a Percy Sledge style of picking his favorite artist, his biggest hits and mixing it with my show. I've been doing it ever since I turned professional.

F1 Are you aware that those people you all mentioned were Atlantic Records?

M2 Mm hmm. But I have one thinking, I say she told me, but now I do, I realize that.

M5 And all this if he went on like it was a stag and in Atlantic were distributing stank of it.

M9 Yeah, but I know beer and Wilson was you know, Otis Redding did. I know this was like brothers. Really. Yeah. Benta and Pickett.

F3 What Otis, did Otis ever talk to you about Brooklyn's?

M10 We all had parties, we bring up a conversation with him, Sam and Sam and Dave and Joe, Simon, you know how they to get together and talk. We have we have things to say about different labels, you know, and good to be brothers, you know, because whenever Stack had something big, they would invite people like me and Aretha Wilson or the Atlantic and somebody would invite Otis Booker T. and IMGs and guys like that, you know.

F1 You know, it's interesting because I grew up in Chicago and Chess Records wasn't very fair to a lot of musicians. Chess Records. Yeah. When they first came up from the south to the North Atlantic Records.

F4 Treat, treat. Treat you all as musician musicians in terms of.

M9 Great. Unbelievable. They've been wonderful to me throughout my whole career. I'm being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

M10 Atlantic Records and I always come back to Atlantic Records. What more can I say?

F2 They're fabulous. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so much.

Percy Sledge
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Percy Sledge, Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 14 May. 2005,
(2005, May 14). Percy Sledge, Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Percy Sledge, Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). May 14, 2005. Accessed July 02, 2022


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