Booker T. & The M.G.’s biography



The Stax house band!

Led by piano and organ player Booker T. Jones, the Stax records house band played behind numerous legendary artists, as well as released their own instrumental records. Most famously Green Onions.

As Stax’s answer to Motown’s Funk Brothers, they arranged and recorded for Bill Withers, Albert King, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and many, many more.

With the addition of the Memphis Horns, they would come to define the sound of Memphis and Southern Soul.

The list of hits these guys are largely responsible for is seriously extensive, here’s a handful.

Green Onions, Born Under A Bad Sign, (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, Ain’t No Sunshine, Soul Man, Hold On I’m Coming, Knock On Wood, Try A Little Tenderness, Respect (Otis Redding version), and Mr. Pitiful.


Core band members

Booker T. Jones was the bandleader, he played piano and organ but also co-wrote many of the hits as well as produced.

Steve Cropper played guitar and also co-wrote many of the songs, most famously (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay with Otis Redding.

Donald Duck Dunn was not the first bass player, he replaced Lewie Steinberg but he did become synonymous with the band and did have the longest involvement with them.

Al Jackson Jr. was a founding member of the band. He played drums but also produced, most famously Albert King. Not just involved with Stax, Al Jackson Jr also recorded for Hi records where he played on Al Green‘s smash hit Let’s Stay Together. Other credits include Rod Stewart, Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, Ann Peebles, and Donny Hathaway.


What does M.G’s stand for?

There has been a lot of debate about what the acronym M.G stands for, including references to the car manufacturer.

The world has settled for Memphis Group but Donald Duck Dunn famously claimed it stands for musical geniuses and who can argue with that?


Ain’t No Sunshine – Chords

Bill Withers first hit has been covered by so many artists it has become a modern classic.

This is the only song played finger-picked and is taught as the final song when you take the beginner guitar course.

Go to Ain’t No Sunshine chords.


Ain’t No Sunshine – Lyrics

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
it’s not warm when she’s away.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
she always gone too long anytime she goes away.

Go to Ain’t No Sunshine lyrics.


Born Under A Bad Sign – Chords

An 8 bar blues with some great switches between minor and major pentatonic we find in Born Under A Bad Sign.

Probably Albert King’s most famous song is put under the microscope in this video and guitar lessons.

Go to Born Under A Bad Sign chords.


Born Under A Bad Sign – Lyrics

Born under a bad sign.
Been down since I began to crawl.
If it wasn’t for bad luck.
You know I wouldn’t have no luck at all.

Go to Born Under A Bad Sign lyrics.


Respect – Chords

Respect is the most famous soul song ever recorded. Breaking up the standard blues chord progression we play G7 – F7 for the verse and C7 – F7 as a chorus.

The biggest showpiece of the song is the sax solo, let’s learn how to play it note for note on the guitar.

Go to Respect chords.


Respect – Lyrics

(Oh) What you want,
(Oh) Baby, I got it.
(Oh) What you need,
(Oh) Do you know I got it?

Go to Respect lyrics.


Soul Man – Chords

Soul Man is a song first recorded and performed by Sam & Dave on the label Stax. The band behind them was the legendary Booker T. and The M.G.’s.

Steve Cropper was a member of this Stax house band. Let’s play it as Steve did!

Go to Soul Man chords.


Soul Man – Lyrics

Coming to you, on a dusty road,
good loving, I got a truckload.
And when you get it, you got something.
don’t worry, ’cause I’m coming.

Go to Soul Man lyrics.