Booker T. Jones
BOOKER T. JONES is arguably the most famous and decorated Hammond B3 organ player in history. Best known as the front man for Booker T. & the MGs, he has worked with some of the most highly regarded artists of his time, and has earned a lifetime achievement Grammy Award.
Booker T. was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and was quickly recognized as a child prodigy. He played several instruments including the oboe, saxophone, trombone, and piano. He was a sponge, soaking up every record he could get his hands on at the nearby Satellite Record Shop in his neighborhood. At 16, Booker T. played baritone saxophone on Satellite (later Stax) Records’ first hit, “Cause I Love You,” by Rufus and Carla Thomas.
Booker T. & the MGs was born in 1962, and their first hit, “Green Onions,” remains a classic almost 50 years later. While most artists would’ve pursued the promising start to a career as a musician, Booker T. decided to leave Memphis and the MGs and headed to the University of Indiana for college. To this day, he insists that this experience made him a, “better player, a deeper listener…”
He went on to record for Stax until 1971, both writing and playing on tracks that would forever go down as classics. (Writing credits include, “I’ve Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do),” recorded by Eddie Floyd, “I Love You More Than Words Can Say,” by Otis Redding, and “Born Under a Bad Sign,” by Albert King).
In 1981, Booker T. made the charts as a solo artist with “I Want You.” He also produced and recorded with Rita Coolidge, Bill Withers, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, and Neil Young just to name a few.
In 1992, Jones was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2007, he was awarded a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.
Following his award, Booker T. went on to release two solo records that have received even more critical acclaim than his previous releases. Potato Hole was recorded with the Drive By Truckers, and released in 2009. The album earned a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album.
His latest album, The Road from Memphis, was recorded with The Roots, and features vocals by Sharon Jones, Yim Tames, Matt Berninger, and Lou Reed.