A guitarist, songwriter, and producer. Made his name at Stax Records, starting as a 20-year-old, playing in Booker T. and the MG's, the larger Mar-Keys (you can see the MG's and the Mar-Keys horns backing Otis Redding in the Monterey Pop Festival documentary), and the Stax house band. "In the Midnight Hour", "Knock on Wood", "Dock of the Bay", etc. A natural choice (being co-creator of "Soul Man"), along with sometime-sidekick Duck Dunn, for all The Blues Brothers bands.


Candidate for Music Hall of Fame

You Gotta Move

The one man totally involved as either songwriter, producer, engineer, guitarist and or any combination therof on every Stax Records' cut --for their most important decade from 1960 --started his life out on his parents' farm around Dora, in Willow Spring, Missouri ten days before Halloween 1941. Fortunately for the music world, Steve's family moved from a location --that for the boy's ears' education only musically provided county and western --to arrive in the rich gospel, blues, Rockabilly and Rhythm and Blues broadcast sources in the nine year old's new Memphis home.

After listening to Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Chet Atkins, Tal Farlow, the Bill Doggett band, and the Five Royales' Lowman Pauling, the 14 year old Steve Cropper ordered his first guitar through the US mail --to now learn and play along with them by the radio as well . News of Cropper's talents spread as he became a studio musician for Sun Records, Hi Records, and Duke-Peacock all the while he learned the engineering ropes. He later released some things he did with Hank Crawford (Heart and Soul: The Hank Crawford (1958)

The Evidence Stacks Against Them

In 1961, the band formed with best friend, Charlie Freeman, the Royal Spades went to the studio for Satellite Records and recorded "Last Night" but, not only did the band change their name to the Mar-Keys, but the lawsuit from a California 'Satellite Records' forced the creation of Memphis' Stax Records.

The Stax 'Marquee' Changes

Steve Cropper quit the Mar-Keys during the middle of their intial road trip to join Stax studio owner, Jim Stewart as the main audio and recording engineer. This began his committment to this company with his multi-talented expertise until almost the end of 1970. In the summer of 1962, a year he helped write and play on the Mar-Key's "Pop-Eye Stroll, Cropper was finished along with the new studio, Stax's 'house band' back-up on a long forgotten rockabilly's recording session --with studio time to spare. The musicians that hung around, and kept playing included Booker T. Jones on organ, Al Jackson drumming, and bass player Lewie Steinberg. Luckily the quartet was taped secretly by Stewart in the ensuing impromptu blues jam, and they worked out a side that sounded good enough to put on wax, they named it, "Green Onions." The instrumental made it to number three on Billboard's pop list, and topped their R & B chart. Their singles, "Behave Yourself" (1962), ("Soul Dressing" -Steve co-wrote*- (1964) and "Hip Hug-Her"* (1967) did very well, among the subsequent releases that were - "Mo' Onions"* right after their "Green.." ones, and: "Boot-leg", "Jelly Bread," "My Sweet Potato,"* "Groovin'," "Soul Limbo", "Hang 'Em High", "Time is Tight", "Mrs. Robinson", "Something", and "Melting Pot". The Mar-Keys were continuing with him touring but were using his songs, too, like "Bo-Time" (1963) and "Grab This Thing" (1965). Some albums they released include And Now, Booker T. and the MG's (1966), Uptight guitar and engineer on this (1968) and, Booker T. Set (1969). He played guitar on these Mar-Keys' albums: Great Memphis Sound (1966) and Back to Back, The Mar-Keys with Booker T. and friends (1967). When Booker T. Jones phased out by the end of that decade, so did the MG's. Prolific during this time at Stax, he had written hits for Rufus Thomas ("Can Your Monkey Do the Dog" and "Somebody Stole My Dog" 1964, and produced LP Funky Chicken, 1969), helped Otis Redding with piano as well as his axe ("Mr. Pitiful" 1964, "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa/Sad Song" "The Happy Song/Dum-Dum" (1968), and the number one monster: "Sittin' On/The Dock of the Bay" 1968), 1966), Sam and Dave ("Goodnight Baby" 1965), Eddie Floyd ( Top R & B- "Knock on Wood" 1966) as well as tunes for the Astors ("Candy", 1965), "Who's Makin' Love" Johnny Taylor, Carla Thomas and others. He found time during all this busy decade to help at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, and put out Atlantic's Soul Christmas album,. He worked with blues great, Albert King (Born Under a Bad Sign, 1967; Jammed Together, King of the Blues, 1969; Blues for Elvis: Albert King does the King, 1970), soul greats Aretha Franklin (Composed the music on album: Aretha Now, 1968); and 'Wicked' Pickett, soundtrack star Isaac Hayes, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels Detroit Memphis Experiment (1969) Delaney &Home, (1969), and The Staples Singers. Steve Cropper did his first solo endeavor on a Stax album: With A Little Help From My Friends

On His Own

1970 and Steve teamed up with ex Mar-Key Ronnie Stoots and Jerry Williams for something bigger than a band or someone else's console, but for not just a recording studio, but a record company as well. This venture was Trans-Maximus (TMI) that in the next decade Cropper played on and produced work by Poco, Jose Feliciano, Jeff Beck, John Prine, Yvonne Elliman, Dreams, and Tower of Power (Remix Bump City, 1972; Produced We Came To Play, 1978). In 1977 Steve reunited with the MG's, for an album on Asylum, Universal Language that featured an old Stax associate, Willie Hall who had to replace the late Al Jackson. This TMI phase lasted most of the 70's until other projects, basically he worked all over the place. His guitar accompanied Wayne Newton on his Tomorrow album, Matthew Moore's Winged Horses, and he engineered Ollie and The Nightingales self-titled LP. Playing sometimes not just guitar, but bass, drums and piano and producing, mixing, re-mixing, producing, and engineering -- let us break it down (after the artist, his role; unless noted in heading):

The 70's:
Productions

1970: Funky Chicken, Rufus Thomas
1970: Mavis Staples, Mavis Staples
1972: Jeff Beck Group, Jeff Beck
1976: Yancey, Yancey
1977: Doonesbury's Jimmy Thudpucker, Jimmy Thudpucker ...
1978: Stuff It, Stuff - producer
1978: We Came To Play, Tower of Power - producer
1979: Chronicle, Eddie Floyd - arranger, Producer
1979: Inside Story, Robben Ford - producer
197?: Ambergris, Ambergris

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Production/mixing/vocals/ guitar

1970: Only for the Lonely, Mavis Staples - guitar, arranger, producer
1971: Melting Pot, Booker T. & the MG's guitar, engineer, remixing
1972: Ashes to Ashes, Ronnie Stoots - guitar, producer, engineer
1972: Funky Sound Nurtured, Eric Mercury - guitar, arranger, producer
1972: Dismal Prisoner, Roy Head
1973: Diane Kolby, Diane Kolby - guitar, guitar, producer
1974: Lydia, Cold Blood- guitar, Producer
1975: Very Best of Poco, Poco - producer
1975: Two Sides of the Moon, Keith Moon -director, producer
1975: Common Sense, John Prine -remix, guitar, producer
1975: The Cate Brothers, Cate Brothers - guitar, vocals, producer
1976: In One Eye and out the Other, The Cate Brothers - guitar, vocals, producer
1976: Hard CandyNed Doheny guitar, vocals (bckgr), producer
1976: Pastiche, Manhattan Transfer - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, remixing

___________

Guitar

1970: McLemore Avenue, Booker T. & the MG's
1971: From the Inside, Poco - producer David Clayton-Thomas, David Clayton-Thomas
1972: Nine Songs, Bobby Doyle
1973: Ringo, Ringo Starr
1974: Goodnight Vienna, Ringo Starr
1974: Your Place or Mine, Patti Dahlstrom
1975: Breakaway, Art Garfunkel
1975: Rock 'n' Roll, John Lennon
1975: Something New, Barbi Benton
1975: Ol' Blues Singer, Lowell Fulson
1975: Inside, Kenny Rankin
1975:Hungry Years, Neil Sedaka
1976: Steppin' Out, Neil Sedaka
1975: Atlantic Crossic, Rod Stewart
1976: Night On the Town, Rod Stewart
1975: Will O' the Wisp, Leon Russell Acoustic, electric, Slide Guitar
1976: Best of Leon Russell, Leon Russell
1976: Michael Polnareff, Michael Polnareff - guitar
1976: White on White, Brian Cadd
1976: Fairwell Fairbanks, Randy Edelman
1976: Slippin' Away, Chris Hillman
1976: End of the Beginning, Richie Havens
1976: Stories from a Human Zoo, Keith Christmas
1976: Main Refrain, Wendy Waldman
1976: Robbin Thompson, Robbin Thompson
1976: I've Got a Reason, Richie Furay
1976: Main Refrain, Richie Furay
1976: Word Called Love, Brian & Brenda Russell
1976: End of the Beginning, Richie Havens
1977: Loading Zone, Roy Buchanan
1977: Duo-Glide, Sanford & Townsend
1977: The Chambers Brothers: Live in Concert on Mars, The Chambers Brothers - guitar
1977: Levon Helm & the RCO All-Stars, Levon Helm
1977: Foot Loose and Fancy Free, Rod Stewart
1978: Levon Helm, Levon Helm guitar, percussion
1978: Deep in the Night, Etta James
1978: Bish, Stephen Bishop
1978: Third/Sister Lovers, Big Star
1978: Joanne MacKell , Joanne Mackell
1978: Randy Richards , Randy Richards
1978: Bruce Roberts, Bruce Roberts
1978: Shoot the Moon, Carter Robertson
1979: Next Song Is.., Keith Herman
1979: Here, Leo Sayer
1979: Songs of Richie Furay, Poco - producer
1979: Where I Should Be, Peter Frampton
1979: Duane Eddy, Duane Eddy
197?: Try Me, Billy Burnette -vocals

_______________

The Blues Brothers

1978: Briefcase Full of Blues, The Blues Brothers - Guitar
1980: Made in America, The Blues Brothers guitar
1980: Blues Brothers- Original.., The Blues Brothers - guitar
1981: Best of the Blues Brothers The Blues Brothers

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The 80's

1980: Nervous Eaters, Nervous Eaters - guitar
1980: Dolly Dolly Dolly, Dolly Parton - guitar
1980: Nothing Matters And What If It Did, John Cougar
1980: Playin' My Thang, Steve Cropper (Solo album on MCA - first one since '69)
1980: Solar Wind, Ramsey Lewis -guitar
1980: Man's Best Friend, Livingston Taylor - guitar
1981: Blood on the Bricks, The Iron City Houserockers - guitar, Producer
1982: Night After Night, Steve Cropper; MCA 1984: Where the Beat Meets the Street, Bobby & The Midnites - guitar
1986: Every Beat of My Heart, Rod Stewart
1986: Rod Stewart, Rod Stewart
1986: Atlantic Blues: Vocalists, (Atlantic compilation) - guitar
1986: Atlantic Blues Box, (Atlantic compilation) - guitar
1986: Best of Booker T. & the MG's 1967..., Booker T. & the MG's -guitar
1988: King of Blues: 1989, B.B. King - rhythm guitar
1988: Hot Water, Jimmy Buffett - guitar
1988: Jammed Together, (compilation) -producer, vocals, guitar
1988: Stax Soul Brothers, (assorted artists) -producer
1988: Stax Soul Sisters, (asst.) -producer
1988: Great Outdoors, (original soundtrack) producer, guitar
1988: Guitar Workshop: Tribute to Otis, (compilation) - guitar
1989: Roadhouse, (original soundtrack) piano
1989: Seven Year Itch, Etta James

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90's to the Present

1990: Guitar Player Presents: Legends of 1990, (asst.)- guitar
1990: Forgotten Trail 1969-1974, Poco - producer
1991: Atlantic Rhythm and Blues 1947-1974, (asst.) - piano, organ, guitar
1991: Beckology, Jeff Beck - producer
1991: Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-, (asst.) - arranger, producer, conductor
1992: Stax Revue: Live at Funky Broadway, (assorted artists) - guitar
1992: Rock of the 70's, (asst.) -guitar
1992: Right Time, Etta James - guitar
1992: I Was Warned, Robert Cray - composer
1992: Pumping Iron & Sweating Steel, The Iron City Houserockers - guitar, producer
1992: Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads, Jimmy Buffett - guitar
1992: Can't Get Away from This Dog, Rufus Thomas -guitar
1992: Man and a Half: The Best of Wilson, Wilson Pickett - guitar
1992: Hidden Gems, Carla Thomas - producer
1992: Little Something Extra, William Bell - producer, guitar
1992: Sweet Dreams: The Anthology, Roy Buchanan - guitar
1993: Margaritaville Cafe Late Night, (asst.) -guitar
1993: Guitar on Fire: Atlantic Sessions, Roy Buchanan - guitar
1993: Stay Out of the Kitchen, Mable John guitar
1993: Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding, - producer, liner notes, bass, piano, guitar
1993: All Killer, No Filler, Jerry Lee Lewis -guitar
1993: Soul Mission, Soul Mission -arranger, guitar
1993: Blonde and Blue, Angela Stehli - guitar
1993: I'll Run Your Hurt Away, Ruby Johnson - guitar
1993: Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert, Bob Dylan - guitar
1993: Sacred Journey, First Call - guitar
1993: Great Days: John Prine Anthology, John Prine - electric
1993: People Get Ready: A Tribute, (asst.) -vocals, guitar
1993: Bronx Tale, (original soundtrack) producer
1993: Tell Me Why, Wynonna Judd -Guitar (Electric)
1993: Wynonna Collection, Wynonna Judd - guitar (Electric)
1993: Ultimate Collection, Albert King -Guitar
1993: Rare Stamps, Eddie Floyd - guitar, arranger, producer, remixing
1994: Gee Whiz: The Best of Carla Thomas, Carla Thomas - guitar, producer
1994: Mercy Mercy: The Definitive Don, Don Covay - guitar
1994: Damifiknow!/Memphis Experience, The Mar-Keys - guitar
1994: Very Best of Booker T. & the MG's, Booker T. & the MG's - bass, guitar, piano
1994: That's the Way It Should Be, Booker T. & the MG's -guitar,
1994: Blue Night, Percy Sledge -guitar
1995: California Girl/Down to Earth, Eddie Floyd - guitar, Arranger, Producer, Engineer, Supervisor
1995: Promised Land, (original soundtrack) - producer
1995: Blue Suede Sneakers, (asst.) -guitar
1995: Till the Night is Gone: a Tribute, (asst.) -guitar
1995: Original Soul Christmas, (asst.) -guitar
1995: Tattooed Heart, Aaron Neville -guitar
1995: Jingle Bell Jam: Jazz Christmas, (asst.) - guitar
1995: Best 60's Album in the World Ever, (asst.) - producer
1995: Very Best of Yvonne Elliman, Yvonne Elliman - producer
1995: Duane Eddy: His Twangy Guitar, Duane Eddy - guitar
1995: The Blues of the Month Club, Joe Louis Walker -producer
1996: Soulful Grooves: R & B Instrumental, (asst.) -guitar 1996: The Show Must Go On: Anthology, Leo Sayer
1996: Hard Bargain, Albert King
1996: Concert for the Rock and Hall (asst.) -producer 1996: Right Stuff, Stuff -producer
1997: Best of Yvonne Elliman, Yvonne Elliman - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, producer, horn arrangements
1997: Beg Scream and Shout: The Big Ol', (asst.) -producer
1997: Great Guitars, Joe Louis Walker - producer
1997: Preacher and The President, Joe Louis Walker - producer
1997: Pulp Fusion Vol.1: Funky Jazz, (asst.)- producer
199?: Sarah and Friends, Sarah and Friends - producer, guitar
1997: Best That I Could Do 1978-1988, John Mellencamp - producer
1997: My Time: The Anthology 1969-1997, Boz Scaggs - guitar
1997: Songs from the Capeman, Paul Simon -guitar
1997: The Best of Buddy Miles, Buddy Miles
1997: Retrospective, Leon Russel -guitar
1996: Tatons, Axelle Red - guitar
1996: My Fellow Americans, (original soundtrack) - composer
1998: Con Solo Pensarlo, Axelle Red - guitar
1998: Atlantic Records 50 Years, (asst.) -producer
1998: John Carpenter's Vampires, (original soundtrack)- guitar
1998: Good to Go, Shanda Brash - executive producer
1998:Heavy Love, Buddy Guy
1998: Heavy Love, Buddy Guy {Bonus Track}
1998: Love Songs, Otis Redding - producer
1998: Dreams to Remember, Otis Reddidng - guitar
1998: Greatest Hits, Jose Feliciano arranger, producer
1998: Fantasy Records 3-CD Box Set, Booker T. and the MG's
199?: Tuff Turf, (original soundtrack) - composer
1998: Ultimate Collection, Poco - producer
1999: Gentleman of Leisure, Jesse Winchester -guitar
1999: At the Club, (asst.) - producer
1999: American Love Story, (asst.) - producer 1999: Very Best of Albert King Albert King -guitar, Producer
1999: Wander This World, Johnny Lang
1999: Smooth Sailin', Marty Grebb - guitar
2000: Jose Feliciano Sings: Greatest Hits, José Feliciano - arranger, produce
2000: Rebecca Lynn Howard, Rebecca Lynn Howard - guitar
2000: Memphis Soul Classics, (asst.) - producer
2000: Every Beat of My Heart, Rod Stewart - guitar
2008: Nudge It Up A Notch, featuring Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere, was released July 29 on Stax
2010: Midnight Flyer
2011: Dedicated: Tribute to the 5 Royales

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Play It, Steve!

After the touring with ex-The Band Levon Helm's RCO All-Stars in 1977, he got the call from John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to help with the Blues Brothers Band projects which included the two movies, after the first, The Blues Brothers, and had a sad interruption with John's death, and picked up again in 1997 with John Goodman for the Blues Brothers 2000. He never was idle, however. He has worked with Elton John, Steppenwolf, Paul Simon and Ringo Starr on their recent projects. Insomnia Studio in Nashville is his new top-of-the-line recording studio where cuts can be released his new label, Play It, Steve!, which was inaugerated with a new album, titled, aptly, Play It, Steve!.

His 2011 project, Dedicated: Tribute to the 5 Royales featured a huge ensemble. His band was solid with a backing of David Hood, slappin' bass, Steve Jordan drumming, helped by percussionist Steve Ferrone. Keyboards aided by Spooner Oldham, and a horn section with Neal Sugarman and Tiven. None other than B.B. King, Steve Winwood, and Brian May assisted along with, Lucinda Williams, Sharon Jones, Bettye LaVette, Delbert McClinton, Willie Jones, Shemekia Copeland, Buddy Miller, Dan Penn, John Popper, and last, but certainlynot least, Dylan LeBlanc

He deserves to have more honors than just the one amplifier and guitar manufacturer Peavey did with their highly sought after Cropper Classic commemorative guitar. Indeed, Mojo Magazine of Great Britain honored him as the eternal number two guitarist, close behind the late creative genius, Jimi Hendrix. And in 2003 he was voted by Rolling Stones' magazine readers into the top 100 guitarists of all time.

There is a book published by Schirmer authored by Rob Bowman immortalizing the legend in Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. And one can enjoy the Patrick Montier STAX website.

Most money says he will be soon officially be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but, one should think what he has done in his four decades and still with what he still continues to do, he already has earned his endless accolades from those who know. His recent performance on a PBS Stax special shows he still has all the right stuff.

Source: 2000 Play It, Steve! Records

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