Booker T. Jones is an African-American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer and arranger, best known for his studio session work at Stax Records and also the frontman of the famous band Booker T. & The MGs. Both he and the other members of the band have contributed to practically all the major hits that came out of Stax Records from the early 1960s to the late 1960s.
The first major regional hit produced by the company, under the Satellite name, was entitled “’Cause I Love You”, a duet by Rufus Thomas and daughter Carla Thomas, released in May 1960.
Later that year “Green Onions” was released. It was Stax Records’ first single to achieve the number one position on the US R&B Billboard listing. The group went on to define the company’s sound for the rest of the decade. Since they were the main studio backing band at Stax, virtually every single and album released featured their musical backing, with added input through arranging, co-writing and production. In 1967 the group took over the position of the Top Instrumental group in Billboard’s end of year poll from Herb Alpert and The Tijiuana Brass, with the “Green Onions” single certified gold that year.
After leaving Stax Records in the early 1970s, Booker T. Jones migrated to the west coast of America to the state of California and set up home. He remained quite successful during the 1970s as a producer and songwriter. Jones first major achievement during this phase of his career was with Bill Withers, producing Withers’ entire album “Just As I am”. The black-owned record label which released the album, Sussex Records, extracted “Ain’t No Sunshine” as the first single from the album. The song went on to become the first one million selling record for Withers and also won a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Song” in 1972. The record featured Stax musicians Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass guitar, Al Jackson Jr. on drums, with string arrangements conducted by Booker T. Jones.
Photo: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)