Marvell Thomas

August 22, 1941 - January 23, 2017
Rest in Peace

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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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