Formed in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., in 1962 taken from part of the Mar-Keys, the group comprised, at various times, of:
Booker T. Jones (b. 12th November 1944, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A; organ)
Steve Cropper (b. 21st October 1941, Willow Spring, Missouri, U.S.A; guitar)
Lewis Steinberg (bass)
Al Jackson Jr. (b. 27th November 1934, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., d. 1st October 1975, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A; drums)
Donald 'Duck' Dunn (b. 24th November 1941, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., d . 13th May 2012, Tokyo, Japan)
Willie Hall (8th August 1950, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)
Booker T. & the M.G.'s were the group who helped form the spine of the Stax sound in the Sixties.
They later became a hugely in-demand backing group, who featured on numerous albums by many artists, whilst still maintaining a career as an individual group.
The group also showcased a multi-racial element in their line-up, during an era of segregation in many walks of life.
‘MG’s’ stood for ‘Memphis Group’ (not anything to do with the car company).
In 1962, a young keyboardist, Booker T. Jones, along with Steve Cropper, bass player Lewie Steinberg, and Al Jackson Jr., a drummer performed sessions for former Sun Records star Billy Lee Riley.
Green Onions b/w Behave Yourself - 1962 / Chinese Checkers b/w Plum-Nellie - 1963
Jim Stewart, the president of Stax Records, liked the music by the group, and released ‘Green Onions’ b/w ‘Behave Yourself’.
The single went to number 1 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart and number 3 on the pop chart.
The following year, the band released the album ‘Green Onions’.
green onions - 1962 / soul dressing - 1964 / and now! - 1966 / hip hug-her - 1967
The album consisted of instrumental covers of popular hits.
The group went on to back many of Stax’s and Soul Music’s greatest artists, including Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett and Delaney & Bonnie.
In the mid-1960’s Booker studied music full-time at Indiana University, making him unavailable for some sessions, which were filled, at times, by Isaac Hayes.
Whether it was Isaac or Booker, the group always had these artists performing at one time or other...
Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Booker T. Jones, and Lewie Steinberg, along with Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, Isaac Hayes, Floyd Newman, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love.
This group would set a high standard for the R&B genre.
Booker T. & The M.G.'s released several sides between 1963 and 1965.
Lewie Steinberg recorded with the band through 1965, after which Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn became the group's full-time bassist.
The group reached the top 40 in 1967, with the instrumental ‘Hip Hug-Her’.
The same year, they embarked on the Stax European tour.
They worked, on the tour, with the likes of Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, and Jefferson Airplane.
soul linbo - 1968 / doin' our thing - 1968 / mclemore avenue - 1970 / melting pot - 1970
Their 1967 ‘Hip Hug-Her’ album was followed by 1968’s ‘Doin' Our Thing’ and ‘Soul Limbo’.
‘Soul Limbo’ became the BBC theme for cricket coverage.
In 1969, the group released ‘Time is Tight’, which reached number 6 on the Billboard pop charts.
In 1969, the group had become big fans of the Beatles, with the feeling becoming mutual.
The Beatles sent limousines to pick up the group at the airport on the U.K. leg of their European tour.
In 1970, Booker T & The M.G.'s collaborated with Creedence Clearwater Revival.
In 1971, they released their last single for Stax, namely ‘Melting Pot’.
Before the ‘Melting Pot’ album was recorded, Booker T. Jones had left Stax.
The group had begun to fragment.
Steve Cropper soon left, whilst Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn and Al Jackson remained, and Al Jackson, went on to play on and write many of Al Green's singles.
The group became known as The MG’s, releasing one final single in late 1971.
A 1973 album entitled ‘The MG’s’, was later released, but without many of the original group members.
In 1975, Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn formed a new version of the group called ‘Booker T. Jones & the Memphis Group’.
Tragically, shortly afterwards, Al Jackson was murdered in his home.
The remaining members put together a new Booker T. & The MGs.
universal language - 1977 / that's the way it should be - 1994
Drummer Willie Hall, was recruited and the group released ‘Universal Language’ in 1977, after which they disbanded again.
The 1980 film ‘The Blues Brothers’ later featured Steve Cropper and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn as part the Blues Brothers backing group.
In 1986, the group participated in the Atlantic Records' 40th anniversary celebration.
Things went well and the group decided to reform for a while.
They continued to perform together over the coming years.
Various artists asked them to be their backing band, including, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Neil Young.
In 1992, Booker T. & The M.G.'s were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1994, Booker T. & The M.G.'s recorded their first album in 17 years, entitled ‘That's the Way It Should Be’.
In 2007, the group received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2012, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn passed away following two concerts in Tokyo, Japan.
as Booker T & the MG's:
Green Onions (Stax Records 1962)
Mo' Onions (Stax Records 1963)
Soul Dressing (Stax Records 1965)
My Sweet Potato (Stax Records 1965)
And Now! (Stax Records 1966)
In The Christmas Spirit (Stax Records 1966)
Hip Hug-Her (Stax Records 1967)
with the Mar-Keys:
Back To Back (Stax Records 1967)
as Booker T & the MG's:
Doin' Our Thing (Stax Records 1968)
Soul Limbo (Stax Records 1968)
Uptight (Stax Records 1969)
The Booker T Set (Stax Records 1969)
McLemore Avenue (Stax Records 1970)
Melting Pot (Stax Records 1971)
as Booker T & the MG's:
The MGs (Stax Records 1973)
Memphis Sound (Warners Records 1975)
Union Extended (Warners Records 1976)
Time Is Tight (Warners Records 1976)
Universal Language (Asylum Records 1977)
solo: Booker T. Jones
Try And Love Again (A&M Records 1978)
The Best Of You (A&M Records 1980)
I Want You (A&M Records 1981)
The Runaway (MCA Records 1989)
That's The Way It Should Be (Columbia Records 1994)