Soul And / Or Related Artists
the barkays

The Barkays

The Barkays, originally, comprised of:

Jimmie King (b. 1949. d. 10th December 1967, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, U.S.A.)

Ronnie Caldwell (b. Ronald Louis "Ronnie" Caldwell, 27th December 1948, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, U.S.A. d. 10th December 1967, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, U.S.A.)

Phalon Jones (b. Phalon R. Jones, Jr. 1948. d. 10th December 1967, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, U.S.A.)

Ben Cauley (b. 3rd October 1947, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A. d. 21st September 2015, U.S.A.)

James Alexander (b. 1948, U.S.A.)


Carl Cunningham (b. 1949. d. 10th December 1967, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, U.S.A.)

Past members included:

Vernon Burch

Ronnie Gorden

Willie Hall

Harvey Henderson

Larry Smith

Charles "Scoops" Allen

Lloyd Smith

Michael Toles

Marcus Price

Angelo Earl

Winston Stewart


Frank Thompson

The Barkays were formed in 1966 in Memphis, and were originally known as the River Arrows.

They were Stax Records answer to Motown Records, the Funk Brothers, initially, although the group carved themselves career’s in their own right.

The BarkaysThe BarkaysThe BarkaysThe Barkays

soul finger - 1967 / gotta groove - 1969 / black rock - 1971 / do you see what i see? - 1972

The group came under the wing of Otis Redding, performing as his own backing group.

Tragedy stuck in December 1967, when Otis, his manager, and the members of the Barkays, namely Jimmie King (guitarist), Ronnie Caldwell (electric organ), Phalon Jones (saxophone), and Carl Cunningham (drums) all died when their airplane plunged into Lake Monona whilst making an attempt to land their plane at Truax Field, near Madison, Wisconsin.

Otis and the Barkays were scheduled to play their next shows in Madison.

Ben Cauley (the Barkays trumpeter) survived the crash.

James Alexander (the Barkays bassist) traveled on another plane, as the plane carrying Otis and the group only took seven passengers.

Ben Cauley and James Alexander set about rebuilding a newer version of the Barkays.

The re-formed band consisted of:

Ben Cauley and James Alexander

along with

Harvey Henderson (saxophone)

Michael Toles (guitar)

Ronnie Gorden (organ)

Willie Hall (drums)

and later

Larry Dodson (a former member of the Stax group The Temprees - lead vocals)

The Barkays continued to back several major Stax artists on studio recordings.

The Barkays In 67

One such album was Isaac Hayes's ‘Hot Buttered Soul’.

The group released several R&B hits, including ‘Soul Finger’ (U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number 17, R&B number 3 in 1967), ‘Son of Shaft’ (R&B number 10) in 1972, ‘Boogie Body Land’ (R&B number 7) later in 1980, and ‘Sex-O-Matic’ (in 1984).

Ben Cauley left the group in 1971.

The Barkays then comprised of:

James Alexander

Larry Dodson (vocals, vibes)

Barry Wilkins (guitar)

Winston Stewart (keyboards)

Harvey Henderson (tenor sax, flute)

Charles ‘Scoops’ Allen (trumpet)


Alvin Hunter (drums)

This line-up of the group released the album ‘Black Rock’ on Stax in 1971.

Lloyd Smith joined the group in 1973.

The BarkaysThe BarkaysThe BarkaysThe Barkays

cold blooded - 1974 / too hot to stop - 1976 / flying high on your love - 1977 / light of life - 1978

When the Stax/Volt label closed for business in 1975, the group signed with Mercury Records.

By this time, the group had left behind the sound they were known for at Stax, favouring a funkier sound in the mid seventies.

In 1976, the line up featuring, Larry Dodson (vocals), James Alexander (bass), Lloyd Smith (guitar), Charles ‘Scoops’ Allen (trumpet), Harvey Henderson (saxophone), Frank Thompson (Trombone), Winston Stewart (keyboards), and Mike Beard (drums) released the Ohio Players-esque ‘Shake Your Rump to the Funk’ single, which reached the R&B Top Five.

In 1977, a follow-up album, entitled ‘Flying High on Your Love’, was released (which featured ‘Shut The Funk Up’ and 'Let's Have Some Fun').

The BarkaysThe BarkaysThe BarkaysThe Barkays

money talks - 1978 / enjoy - 1979 / as one - 1980 / night cruisin' - 1981

In 1983, Sherman Guy left the group and was replaced by Larry Johnson on vocals and percussion.

Charles Allen then left the group.

The Bar-Kays continued to find success on the R&B charts into the 1980’s.

Marcus Price, a member of the Bar-Kays, was murdered coming from rehearsal in 1984.

The crime was never solved by the Memphis police.

Following a break from music in the late Eighties, the Barkays began working again in music in 1991.

James Alexander was the only original member remaining in the group.

The BarkaysThe BarkaysThe BarkaysThe BarkaysThe BarkaysThe Barkays

propositions - 1982 / dangerous - 1984 / banging the wall - 1985 / contagious - 1987 / animal - 1989 / 48 hours - 1994

At the beginning of 1991, Larry Dodson, Archie Love, Bryan Smith, and Tony Gentry have been performing with the group.

James Alexander's son is the rapper and record producer, Phalon Alexander.

Ben Cauley passed away in 2015.


Real Player


Soul Finger (Stax Records 1967)

Gotta Groove (Stax Records 1969)

Black Rock (Volt Records 1971)

Do You See What I See? (Polydor Records 1972)

Cold Blooded (Stax Records 1974)

Too Hot To Stop (Mercury Records 1976)

Flying High On Your Love (Mercury Records 1977)

Money Talks (Stax Records 1978)

Light Of Life (Mercury Records 1978)

Injoy (Mercury Records 1979)

As One (Mercury Records 1980)

Night Cruisin' (Mercury Records 1981)

Propositions (Mercury Records 1982)

Dangerous (Mercury Records 1984)

Banging The Wall (Mercury Records 1985)

Contagious (Mercury Records 1987)

Animal (Mercury Records 1988)

48 Hours (Basix Music Records 1994)

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