If you're anything like me you've heard Steve Cropper a million times but would not recognize him if you were sitting next to him on the #22 bus. Born today in 1941 in Dora, Missouri, Cropper became properly acquainted with music after his family moved to Memphis. There, at age 14, Cropper first picked up a guitar and emulated the sounds of Chuck Berry and popular country music.
In high school Cropper started a band, the Mar-Keys (with Donald "Duck" Dunn), which attracted the attention of the owner of Stax Records. He worked in the record store attached to the studio before moving on to session musician and producer for the label. It was at Stax that Cropper achieved worldwide fame both as a musician and songwriter.
Cropper was a founding member of the Stax house band, Booker T. and the MGs. Through his session work he honed his signature sound while playing on hundreds of songs, but his work with Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding stood above the rest. That sound in turn attracted the attention of none other than the Beatles, who endeavored to come to Memphis to record with him, though this was scrapped due to security concerns.
Cropper found time to join the Blues Brothers band in the 1970s while working with a who's who of big time acts like Neil Young, John Lennon, Peter Frampton, John Mellencamp, John Prine, Jimmy Buffet, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Jose Feliciano and Poco. He is still going strong today and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.