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October 18

The Story of Joe Stampley and His 1972 Hit “Soul Song”

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The Story of Joe Stampley and His 1972 Hit “Soul Song” 1
Photo Credits: AllMusic

This song was written by George Richey, Norro Wilson, and Billy Sherrill. It was a country hit by Joe Stampley back in 1972.

For a motivator, Stampley couldn’t ask for better than the legendary Hank Williams Sr. Stanley was born in Springhill, Louisiana, just a mile away from Arkansas Line. His family moved to Texas when he was still a boy. In Texas and at the age of seven, he happened to meet the country legend in Baytown. Williams and a young Johnny Horton were doing some shows in Houston area and Stampley’s mother took him to the radio station where the Williams and Horton were appearing. Stampley told Williams that he knew all his songs and he can imitate him rather well. The legend was flattered and he told the young Stampley the same thing he always told singers whose goal was to impersonate him, that they should develop their own styles and not to try to copy anybody. Young Stampley listened and he held on to that advice throughout his career.

At the age of 13, Stampley convinced his father to purchase a tape recorder for him so he could listen to himself and try to improve his singing. Two years later, he returned to Louisiana where Springhill disc jockey Merle Kilgore (who later wrote two bona fide country classics, “Wolverton Mountain” and “Ring Of Fire”) helped Stampley secure his first recording contract with Imperial Records.

In 1961, Joe moved on to Chicago’s Chess Records, but it took another nine years before he finally connected with Nashville. Stampley sent songs to publisher Al Gallico, who lined up a recording contract for him with Paramount Records. Joe’s first single was called “Quonette McGraw From Smackover, Arkansas.” This record failed to chart.

Dot Records bought out Paramount and Stampley debuted on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart February 20, 1971, with “Take Time To Know Her” but it reached only a dismal #74. However, a year later Norro Wilson took over production chores and brought Joe his first Top Ten single, “If You Touch Me (You’ve Got To Love Me).”

The follow-up, “Soul Song,” was conceived by keyboard player George Richey, who developed the chorus and had Wilson and Billy Sherrill fill out the verses. Teenager Tanya Tucker recorded it first but when her version failed to become a hit, Stampley covered it. Joe’s version of “Soul Song” debuted at #44 on November 11, 1972, and ten weeks later, on January 20, 1973, the record carried Stampley to the top for his first of three solo #1 hits (he also had a fourth chart-topper in a duet with Moe Bandy). “Soul Song” also reached a decent #37 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart, which amazed Joe a little bit.

 


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