REMEMBERING OTIS REDDING WITH MY FRIEND STEVE CROPPER!
September 9, 2012
“Tonight I’m backstage at Space, a dance club at 49th and Broadway, by the Brill Building. I’m here to get the scoop on John Fred and the Playboys, who currently have the Number One record in the country with, “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses).” But the group I‟m really here to see is the opening act, Booker T. and the MG‟s, who are also the Stax Records rhythm section. The group consists of Booker T. Jones on organ, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, Al Jackson Jr. on drums, and Steve Cropper on guitar.
Their first number is a medley of a few the Stax and Atlantic hits they’ve either played on, co-written and/or produced including, “Hold On Im Comin” “Knock On Wood,” “Soul Man,” “ In The Midnight Hour,” and “Sweet Soul Music.” After the show I go to their dressing room, introduce myself and proceed to do my interview with them for Fusion magazine.
Photo l-r Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, and Al Jackson Jr.
I‟ve been corresponding with their guitar player, writer/producer, Steve Cropper (“Dock Of The Bay”) for over a year now, and he‟s already cut two songs I‟ve sent him, “Family Portrait” with Billy Lee Riley, and “Running Out” with Mabel Johns. Today is the first time we meet in person.
The Memphis Gang (which is what MG stands for), with two black members and two white, not only makes great music, but is an involuntary role model of how we all can work together. Stax Records is located in the heart of the Memphis ghetto and never loses touch with the neighborhood, which is one of the main battlegrounds in the Civil Rights movement. Cropper tells me that he wrote “In the Midnight Hour,” with Wilson Pickett at the Lorraine Motel where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, located only a few blocks away from Stax.
Booker says that they‟re currently writing, producing and performing on the soundtrack album of the Jules Dassin film “Uptight,” and tells me to watch out for the single, “Time is Tight.” As Al Jackson, Jr. and Duck Dunn smile at each other and nod in agreement, I take a few more pictures, thank them for their time, then go have a cup of coffee with Steve Cropper.
I express my deepest sympathy for the recent loss of his friend and songwriting collaborator, Otis Redding. I tell him that every time I hear “Dock of the Bay” I‟m overwhelmed with sadness, and a soothing at the same time.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCmUhYSr-e4&feature=fvwrel
I’m thrilled when Steve invites me over to Atlantic Records‟ recording studios the next day, to hear him mix down the multi-track of “Love Man,” which is the title of Otis Redding‟s next album. It‟s a memorable experience, to hear Otis talk and joke around, and watch Steve relive some of those wonderful moments, even though he chokes up from time to time. I thank him for an afternoon that I‟ll never forget; I wipe the funk off the soles of my shoes and boogie down Broadway back to my office.”
From my book, “I DID IT FOR A SONG” with over a hundred stories of the music business in the ’60s and ’70s!
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