Results for Booker T & the MG's

interviews

Booker T. Jones

When Jim and Greg were at SXSW, they were invited to interview soul legend Booker T. Jones in front of a live audience. This week, you'll get to hear some highlights of that interview. Jim and Greg start the interview by asking Booker how he became such a musical prodigy. The multi-instrumentalist, who has played tuba, piano, saxophone, guitar, oboe, and of course, most notably, organ, credits his musical family with steering him on that path. This path took him to Stax Records where he, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., and Lewie Steinberg (later replaced by Duck Dunn) formed Booker T. and the MGs. While Booker was still in high school, the group recorded "Green Onions," which went on to become one of their most well-known hits.

Jim asks how Booker feels about being relegated to the role of“side man,”in music history, but the musician explains that he feels nothing but pride about being“best supporting musician.”In fact, Booker explains that being a side man elevated him as a musician and allowed him to do so much more than he would have been able to solo. Some of the people our guest has recorded with over the years include Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Ray Charles, and even Barbra Streisand.

Booker T. and the MG's not only played with an impressive cast in the studio, but on the road as well. Jim and Greg highlight his 1967 European tour with other Stax artists, and ask Booker what everyone must have been on to get that powerful, lighting fast tempos. Booker attributes that kind of energy and enthusiasm to people like Otis Redding and Al Jackson, describing them as“possessed people.”The Monterey International Pop Music Festival followed in the summer of 1967, and Booker describes this experience as one of the most eye-opening of his life. With everyone (including the Hell's Angels) collectively joining in to ensure its success, this concert was an affirmation of the values of peace and love everyone there believed in. The MGs went on to perform with Neil Young and with many artists at the Bob Dylan tribute in 1992 including George Harrison and Eric Clapton, who he dishes on later in the interview.

Performing at Monterey eventually led Booker to leave his steady stream of jobs at Stax and venture out to California. As a solo performer and producer Booker challenged himself with a number of new projects including a collection of standards for his neighbor, Willie Nelson. He also worked in the studio with Stephen Stills, Rita Coolidge, Bill Withers and Neil Young.

Go to episode 72

James Alexander

1967's Soul Finger by The Bar-Kays is one of the most instantly recognizable instrumentals of its era, and on the bass is James Alexander. The Bar-Kays played a pivotal part in Stax Records' studio system, eventually replacing Booker T & the MGs as the primary session band behind labelmates like Albert King, The Emotions and Isaac Hayes. They were also consistent hitmakers in their own right that charted throughout the '70s and '80s with jams like "Holy Ghost" and "Son of Shaft." Additionally, the Bar-Kays were the backing band on Isaac Hayes's award-winning Shaft soundtrack. This year, the original soundtrack was re-released in a new box set with almost two dozen previously unreleased tracks that feature The Bar-Kays. Jim and Greg talk with James Alexander about the making of the historic Shaft soundtrack, as well as a turning point in Alexander's career when tragedy struck the Stax Records family.

In early December of 1967, the music world was rocked by news of a plane crash near Madison, Wisconsin. Otis Redding and Bar-Kays members Ronnie Caldwell, Phalon Jones, Jimmy King, and Carl Cunningham were killed in the crash, only trumpeter Ben Cauley survived (miraculously, James didn't take that flight.) In their conversation, James discusses with Jim and Greg what it was like to overcome catastrophe so early in his career.

Go to episode 719
lists

Best Instrumentals

The history of rock ‘n’ roll is filled with memorable lyrics, but sometimes it's the wordless songs that stick. This week, Jim and Greg celebrate the Best Instrumentals. Not just any“instrumental”track will do. Both Jim and Greg agree, no“fa fa fa's”or“la la la's”admitted. Here are their lists:

Go to episode 401
news

Music News

Live Nation/Ticketmaster's practice of reselling, or scalping, its own tickets on the website TicketsNow drew a lot of negative attention from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey Attorney General. The company agreed to stop linking and limit advertising for TicketsNow as part of a 2009 settlement, but now they‘ve quietly begun resuming linking. They are trying to be more transparent, but it looks like the secondary ticket market isn’t going away anytime soon.

In an effort to take matters into its own hands, the jam band String Cheese Incident is taking a novel approach to spare its fans from paying Ticketmaster's loathed service charges. Fans and friends recently brought $20,000 in cash to the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and purchased tickets to the String Cheese show. They then brought the almost 400 tickets by hand to the group's headquarters in Colorado where they went on sale again, sans extra fees. Robin Hood would certainly approve.

One of the great all-time bass players, Donald“Duck”Dunn, died this week at age 70. Along with high school friend Steve Cropper, Dunn was part of one of rock's best rhythm sections. As a member of Booker T. and the MGs, he played alongside legendary Stax acts like Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. He later worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to Eddie Floyd. To remember Dunn's trademark concision and swing, Jim and Greg play "Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd.

Go to episode 338