The Stax Museum of American Soul Music will host a benefit concert on Monday, April 23rd for legendary Memphis guitar player Charles “Skip” Pitts, who is battling cancer and is currently in hospice care.
A former Stax session fixture, Pitts is most famous for his work with Isaac Hayes' ’70s band, including the iconic “wah-wah” guitar on Hayes' “Theme From Shaft.” In addition to Hayes, Pitts was a key player alongside such soul and R&B titans as Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and the Isley Brothers. In recent years, he's best most visible as a core member of the multi-generational soul band the Bo-Keys, led by local producer/bassist Scott Bomar.
“It's been very long road that he's been on,” Bomar says of his ailing bandmate.
Bomar says that Pitts was diagnosed with kidney cancer roughly a year ago while on tour with Cyndi Lauper and had to leave the tour to have his kidney removed. He was better for awhile, but last year during a Bo-Keys tour, Bomar says, Pitts started to feel the same kind of back pain that had preceded his kidney diagnosis.
Now, Pitts, who recently turned 65, is dealing with what Bomar calls a “very advanced, aggressive” cancer that has spread to his lungs.
In order to help Pitts' family with medical bills and to assist with his arrangements, Royal Studio's Boo Mitchell, along with Bomar, “Elmo” Thomas of Elmo & the Shades (with whom Pitts also played), and Stax's Tim Sampson have organized a benefit show, which will take place inside Studio A at the Stax Museum on Monday, April 23rd. The show is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $20, with additional donations accepted.
Performers will include: The Bo-Keys, Elmo & the Shades, Susan Marshall, A440, Barbara Blue, Al Kapone, and Kirk Whalum.
“Beyond everything else, it will be good for people to show their support,” Bomar says. “I think it will be a special night, musically, with lots of interesting collaborations from people who don't usually play together. Skip has a lot of friends.”