Ben Cauley, Original Trumpet Player of The Bar-Kays

“Soul Finger” by The Bar-Kays

Ben Cauley (October 3, 1947-September 21, 2015) was a Memphis-born trumpet player who formed The Bar-Kays with fellow students from Booker T. Washington High School. The group had its own hit with “Soul Finger”–a song in which the trumpet takes center stage. The Bar-Kays became a favorite backing band for Stax recording artists Otis Redding, Albert King, Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes and others.

With Otis Redding on “Upbeat”

Cauley was the sole survivor of a 1967 plane crash in Madison, WI, which resulted in the death of Redding and four other members of The Bar-Kays. Cauley reformed The Bar-Kays with James Alexander (who had made other travel arrangements on the day of the crash) but left the band in 1971.

Singing “Sweet Soul Music” at Neil’s Bar in Memphis

I’ve been to the Stax Museum in Memphis and it is worth the visit–every bit as interesting (if not more so) than Sun Studios across town. While the facade of the building is a re-creation of the original Stax studio, it remains in the same spot, same neighborhood, down the street and around the corner from organist Booker T.’s house. So much music that remains fixed in our memories came from this humble spot.

Cauley and The Bar-Kays were inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2013.