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Profile: Booker T. and the MGs


Booker T. and the MGs

Booker T. and the MGs

from soulsvilleusa.com


1962 (Memphis, TN)


Soul, R&B, Jazz-soul, Pop-soul, Rock, Instrumental


Booker T. Jones (b. November 12, 1944, Memphis, TN): organ, piano
Steve Cropper (b. October 21, 1941, Willow Spring, MO): guitar
"Duck" Dunn (b. Donald Dunn, November 24, 1941, Memphis, TN; d. May 13. 2012, Memphis, TN): bass
Al Jackson, Jr. (b. November 27, 1934, Memphis, TN; d. October 1, 1975, Memphis, TN): drums

Contributions to music:

  • The house band for Stax records during their greatest years, the MGs created Southern soul
  • Combined Caribbean rhythms and timing with R&B and gospel influences for a whole new rhythmic approach to black music
  • One of rock's all-time great instrumental outfits in its own right
  • One of rock's first prominently interracial bands
  • Individual members, particularly Steve Cropper, also made their names as important and influential songwriters and producers

Early years:

Though barely out of their teens (and in Booker T.'s case, not even that), the members of the MGs were already seasoned Memphis session players when they came together in 1962. Indeed, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Lewie Steinberg, and drummer Al Jackson Jr. had already scored one national instrumental hit -- as the Mar-Keys, with 1961's "Last Night." While working with Booker T on a session for former Sun rockabilly legend Billy Lee Riley, the group came up with "Green Onions."


Actually, they'd come up with an a-side called "Behave Yourself" first, but Cropper and certain DJs insisted that "Onions," the flip side, would be the hit. And so it was. The group would go on to more successes on its own, but with the replacement of Steinberg by "Duck" Dunn, the band secured its legacy by backing Stax stars like Otis Redding and Sam and Dave on much, in fact almost all, of their recorded work. Their hugely influential groove assured them relevance through the early Seventies.

Later years:

By that time, however, circumstance had the friends drifting apart, at least professionally, with Cropper, Dunn, and Jackson taking more high-profile session work in Los Angeles and Booker T. finishing his collegiate career. They've reunited several times since without Jackson, who died in 1975, most notably in the early Nineties for a series of superstar tours and a Grammy-winning album. Booker T. engineered a major comeback in 2009 with the Grammy-winning album "Potato Hole" and continues to perform and collaborate today. In 2012, Duck Dunn passed away while on tour in Tokyo.

Other facts:

  • Other members have included: Lewis Steinberg (bass), Isaac Hayes (piano, organ), Carson Whitsett (piano, organ), and Willie Hall (bass)
  • The Beatles, who were huge fans, kissed Steve Cropper's ring when meeting him in 1967
  • "MG" supposedly stands for "Memphis Group," though some claim it was an homage to the car of the same name, although its manufacturers refused to be publicly associated with the group
  • Invited to perform at Woodstock but declined for safety reasons


  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1992)
  • GRAMMY Award (1995)
  • GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1999)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:
  • "Green Onions" (1962)
Top 10 hits:
  • "Green Onions" (1962)
  • "Time Is Tight" (1969)
  • "Hang 'Em High" (1969)
  • "Boot-Leg" (1965)
  • "Groovin'" (1965)
  • "Hip Hug-Her" (1967)
  • "Time Is Tight" (1969)
Top 10 albums:
  • Hip Hug-Her (1967)
  • Uptight (1969)
  • The Booker T. Set (1969)
  • Melting Pot (1971)
  • Melting Pot (1971)
Other important recordings: "Behave Yourself," "Jellybread," "Home Grown," "Burnt Biscuits, "Chinese Checkers," "Mo' Onions," "Tic-Tac-Toe," "Soul Dressing," "Can't Be Still," "Outrage," "My Sweet Potato," "Booker-Loo," "Slim Jenkins' Place," "Soul Sanction," "Pigmy," "Booker's Notion," I Can Dig It," "Soul Limbo," "Over Easy," "Chicken Pox," "Slum Baby," "Melting Pot," "Hole in the Wall," "Booker's Theme," "Sarasota Sunset"
Wrote or co-wrote: "Knock On Wood," Eddie Floyd; "In the Midnight Hour," Wilson Pickett; "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," Otis Redding (Cropper) "Born Under a Bad Sign," Albert King (Jones)
Appear on: "Gee Whiz," Carla Thomas; "Walkin' the Dog," Rufus Thomas; "Hold On! (I'm Coming)," "Soul Man," Sam and Dave; "Who's Making Love," Johnnie Taylor; "Try a Little Tenderness," "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)," Otis Redding; "In The Midnight Hour," "Mustang Sally," Wilson Pickett
Covered by:
The Clash, The Ventures, Johnny Thunders, The Shadows, Georgie Fame
Appears in the movies: "A Star Is Born" (1976), "Songwriter" (1984) (Jones only)
"Amazon Women on the Moon" (1987), "Satisfaction" (1988) (Cropper only)
"The Blues Brothers" (1980), "Blues Brothers 2000" (1998) (Cropper, Dunn, Hall)
"Soulsville" (2003) (Cropper, Dunn, Jones)
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