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Booker T. Jones

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Booker T. Jones (born November 12, 1944) is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer and arranger, best known for fronting the band, Booker T. and the MGs.

Born in South Memphis, Tennessee, Jones was a child prodigy, playing the oboe, saxophone, trombone, and piano at school and serving as organist at his church. He attended Booker T. Washington High School, the alma mater of Rufus Thomas and shared the hallowed halls with future stars like Isaac Hayes’s writing partner David Porter; saxophonist Andrew Love of The Memphis Horns; soul singer/songwriter William Bell and Earth, Wind, and Fire’s Maurice White.

Jones’s first entry into professional music came at age sixteen, when he played baritone saxophone on Satellite (soon to be Stax) Records’ first hit, “Cause I Love You”, by Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas.

While hanging around the Satellite Record Shop run by Estelle Axton, co-owner of Satellite Records with her brother Jim Stewart, Jones met record clerk Steve Cropper, who would become one of the MGs when the group formed in 1962. Besides Jones on organ and Cropper on guitar, Booker T. and the MGs featured Lewie Steinberg on bass guitar and Al Jackson, Jr. on drums (Donald “Duck” Dunn eventually replacing Steinberg). While still in high school, Jones wrote the group’s instrumental “Green Onions”, which not only became a hit in 1962, but remains an enduring classic more than 40 years later.

Over the next few years, Jones would divide his time between studying classical music composition, composing and transposition at Indiana University, playing with the MGs on the weekends back in Memphis[1], serving as a session musician with other Stax acts, and writing songs that would become classics.

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