Monday, May 4, 2009

"Underground Legends"

Booker T. and The MGs

As the house band for Stax Records, this groups was able to make a name for themselves with the 1962 hit instrumental song, "Green Onions." They were one of the first interracial bands of the Rock&Roll era.

The original members of the group were Booker T. Jones (piano, tuba, saxophone, etc.), Lewie Steinberg (bass), Steve Cropper (lead guitar) and Al Jackson Jr. (drums). In 1965, Donald "Duck" Dunn replaced Steinberg on the bass due to the other member's lack of chemistry with Steinberg. Although they recorded a number of singles, they became the Stax Records backing band for several artists, including Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett. They have produced, co-written and played on several famous hits, such as "Hold On (I'm Coming)," "Soul Man," "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," and "Try a Little Tenderness."

Though Booker T. and the MGs had a huge hit with "Green Onions" (number 1 on R&B charts, number 3 on pop charts), they were never able to have as big of a hit again. They did have a few smaller hits, like "Hip Hug-Her, "Soul Limbo," "Hang 'Em High," and their second biggest hit "Time is Tight" (number 6 on pop charts). Their last Stax single was "Melting Pot" in 1971, which has been sampled by many rappers and DJs. Soon, the group became unhappy with business at Stax and Jones and Cropper left Sax. Dunn continued to do sessions and production work at Stax, while Jackson plyed on and wrote many of Al Green's hits.

In late September 1975, the group prepared for a reunion, but a little over a week later, drummer Al Jackson was shot to death in his home. The remaining members went on to have several reunions with various drummers. Booker T. and the MGs were inducted into the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Today, the three members continue to play as either a backing band for other artists or as artists themselves.


1) The MGs part of the groups name comes from the name of musician and record producer, Chips Moman's sports car. It does not mean "Memphis Group" as it is commonly believed.

2) "Green Onions" has been used in many movies and trailers, such as American Graffitti.

3) Writer/producer Isaac Hayes replaced Booker T. Jones when he was unavailable for sessions work because he was attending music classes at Indiana University. He also played with him in several sessions.

4) Cropper and Dunn were part of another Memphis house band, The Mar-Keys.

5) The Beatles, and Donald Dunn and Booker T. Jones had a mutual appreciation for each other.

6) Al Jackson Jr. is known as one of the best drummers in Rock&Roll history. Known as the "Human Timekeeper," he is ranked #35 on The Top 100 Greatest Drummers Of All Time.

7) Cropper and Dunn were part of the backing band for both Blues Brother's movies.

Green Onions

Melting Pot

Hip Hug- Her

Boot Leg (w/ commentary about the group)

Soul Limbo

Hang 'Em High

Time Is Tight

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