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Steve Cropper

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Biography

Steven Lee “Steve” Cropper (October 21, 1941) is an American guitarist, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the guitarist of the Stax house band, Booker T. & The M.G.’s, and has backed artists such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas and Johnnie Taylor, also acting as producer on many of these records. He later gained fame as a member of The Blues Brothers band. Rolling Stone lists him 36th on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Mojo ranks Cropper as the second-best guitarist ever. His nickname is “The Colonel”.

Cropper was born Stephen Lee Cropper on a farm outside Dora, Missouri. In 1950, his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. At age ten, he strummed a guitar for the first time, his brother-in-law’s Gibson. Cropper received his first guitar at age 14, and started playing with local musicians. His hero at the time was Lowman Pauling of the Winston-Salem, NC band, The Five Royales.

The Stax years (1961-1970)

Cropper and guitarist Charlie Freeman formed (as a tip of the hat to Pauling’s band) The Royal Spades, who eventually became The Mar-Keys. The Mar-Keys was a play on the word “marquee”; referring to the marquee outside of Stax studios (at the time called Satellite Records). The band’s inexperienced sax player Charles “Packy” Axton’s mother Estelle Axton and uncle Jim Stewart owned Satellite, and eventually The Mar-Keys began playing on sessions and had a hit single of their own with 1961’s “Last Night”. Also in the band were producer/songwriter Don Nix and future legends, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn and trumpeter Wayne Jackson.

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  • semionato

    new album is terrific.

    14 Aug 2011 Reply
  • CaptureTheCat

    reminds me of something...

    8 Mar 2009 Reply
  • Yardbird_Live

    The photo with the bio is unsourced and undated - the 70s abounded with long hair and axes - that's when I guess this was created. In the 60s Steve and the rest of the MGs were very tidy - visually and musically.

    11 Jan 2009 Reply
  • musica23

    Steve just released a new CD with former Rascal Felix Cavaliere called "Nudge It Up a Notch." Can't wait to give it a listen!

    2 Aug 2008 Reply
  • jdhatl

    Mojo was wrong: #1 guitarist of all time

    14 Jun 2007 Reply

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