This is the first in an audio series of podcast-style features starring five of the most notable representatives of a mighty soul legacy. Stax Legends features some of the great names who helped build the legend of the great Memphis soul dynasty.
This writer had the pleasure of talking to these giants of Stax Records when they were in London for the memorable Stax Prom, during the 2017 Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall. The first subject in the series is Booker T. Jones, the keyboard virtuoso born in Memphis on November 12, 1944, who went on to helm of one of Stax’s first hit groups, the musically and culturally groundbreaking Booker T and the MGs.
In the course of this 12-minutes-plus mini documentary, you’ll hear Booker’s memories of those early days at Stax and how the group and the label expanded throughout the 1960s — all illustrated with many of the MGs’ best-loved hits. He recalls the group’s breakthrough instrumental of 1962, “Green Onions,” recorded when he was just 17, and how with friends Donald “Duck” Dunn, Steve Cropper and Al Jackson, the quartet broke through social barriers with the interracial line-up and ethos that became a key part of the Stax story.
He describes the famous UK and European tour of 1967, in which the group and many other Stax stars were amazed to find that their music was adored by international audiences. Jones also reminisces about subsequent MGs hits such as “Time Is Tight” and “Soul Limbo,” and the gloriously creative cultural exchange that went back and forth across the Atlantic.
Coming up to date, Booker also shared his plans to complete his memoirs, subsequently published in 2019 as Time Is Tight: My Life Note By Note. He also talks about his work on the new album that became Note By Note, the follow-up to 2013’s Sound The Alarm, which marked his return to the Stax label for the first time in more than 40 years. The next instalment in the Stax Legends series features his MGs bandmate Steve Cropper.
Buy or stream some of the Booker T and the MGs hits in this audio feature on the 3-CD Soulsville USA compilation.