Stax/Volt soul singer Wendy Rene has died of complications from a stroke. She was only 67 years old. You can read a full obituary here:
Below is a SotW I originally posted on June 30, 2012. I’m revisiting it here today in her honor.
I’ve always got my ear to the ground with the hope of discovering some long lost soul gem. A couple of months ago I was listening to the 9 CD, 244 song, boxed set – Stax/Volt – The Complete Singles 1959-1968. The collection has all of the well know favorites by the label’s major stars, but also goes deep into the catalog for some wonderful obscurities. I found one that’s perfect for the summer and the upcoming 4th of July holiday — 1964’s “Bar-B-Q” by southern soul legend, Wendy Rene.
Born Mary Frierson, her stage name was the suggestion of Stax label mate Otis Redding. Her first release, the mournful “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” was her biggest hit. That song was eventually covered by Alicia Keys under the title “Where Do We Go From Here.”.
But I prefer the lighthearted, upbeat “Bar-B-Q.” The bass and organ lay down a funky rhythm. The famous Memphis Horns add to the southern soul stew. It even features a little Steve Cropper guitar solo. Then there’s Wendy’s sassy vocal on the playful lyric.
i smell something in the air, you know it smells like barbecue
if i had some i wouldn’t care because i like barbecue
well, i like barbecue
you like barbecue
we like barbecue
you know i sure like barbecue
sister’s out back sittin’ in the swing, she wants some barbecue
little brother’s on the porch doin’ handsprings, singin’ i’d like some barbecue
my old dog has got a bone, and he wants some barbecue
i’ve got an old gray cat sittin’ on the stone, and he’s beggin’ for barbecue
here comes pop from up the street and he’s got some barbecue
all the kids are startin’ to pat their feet because they want some barbecue
By 1967, Wendy was in a second marriage and raising a growing family so she decided to leave the record business. I’ve heard the story – but I’m not sure if it’s true – that she was scheduled to perform one last show with Otis Redding and other Stax artists but that she turned it down at the last minute. As the story goes, that gig was Redding’s last. He was killed along with four of the Bar-Kays when their plane crashed on the return from the show.
Enjoy… until next week.