Photo Credit: soulexpress.net
Marvell Thomas, a member of Stax's first family died January 20, 2017 at the age of 75.
A respected pianist, producer and arranger, Thomas played on many of the foundational hits
for Stax Records. Thomas was the son of entertainment icon Rufus Thomas and was the older brother
of Carla and Vaneese Thomas.
“Marvell Thomas was one of those rare behind-the-scenes musicians,” said Stax spokesman Tim Sampson. “He contributed so much to the ‘Memphis Sound’ but never quite got the mass recognition he merited, although he always seemed to accept that role. The keyboards, arrangements and production talents he lent to everyone from his sister Carla Thomas to Isaac Hayes were absolutely essential to the success of Stax Records.”
Thomas grew up spending most of his time on Beale Street in Memphis, where his father performed. Even with his early exposure to the entertainment
industry, music was not his original plan for life - he wanted to be a doctor. While preparing for medical school,
Stax opened its doors and his course of life changed.
Thomas's career at Stax continued through a two-year army stint
until its bankruptcy in the 1970's. He also did session work
at Muscle Shoals and served as music director for Peabo Bryson
plus touring with the Temptations. Other contributions to the
entertainment industry included appearances in the films "WattStax"
and "Mystery Train", and contributions to the soundtrack "Hustle
& Flow". As most performers do, Thomas continued to perform
and write up until the final months before his death.
A private service will be held, however plans are being made
for a public celebration of Marvell Thomas's life. The family
has requested donations in lieu of flowers be made to: The Rufus
Thomas Scholarship Fund, c/o Soulsville Foundation, 926 McLemore
Avenue, Memphis TN 38106.
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