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Steve Cropper

On 21/10/1941: Steve Cropper was born. He was born in Dora, Missouri and his full birth name was Steven Lee Cropper. When he was 14, he got his first guitar by mail order. He was influenced by Tal Farlow, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Chet Atkins, Lowman Pauling of the Five Royales and Billy Butler of the Bill Doggett band.
Cropper joined fellow guitarist Charlie Freeman to form the Royal Spades. The band would later rename themselves to the Mar-Keys. The name was in reference to the marquee outside Stax studios (then known as Satellite Records). The Mar-Keys would begin playing sessions.
In 1961, the Mar-Keys had a hit of their own called "Last Night".
Jim Stewart, the president at Stax Records, admired Cropper's professionalism and maturity. Chips Moman, the founder of American Records left Stax and Cropper became the company's A&R man. Cropper also became a founding member of the Stax house band called Booker T. & the M.G's. Other members of the band were Hammond organ player Booker T. Jones, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and drummer Al Jackson Jr. Being the house guitarist, he was called to play on many recordings. Songs that he performed on include "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding which Cropper co-wrote on and Sam & Dave's "Soul Man". He began to make a name for himself both in the United States and the UK. The Beatles were keen to work with him until manager Brian Epstein called the sessions over concerns about security.
Cropper would also co-write on "Knock on Wood" with Eddie Floyd and "In the Midnight Hour" with Wilson Pickett.
In 1969, Cropper released his debut solo album "With a Little Help From My Friends".
In 1970, Cropper left Stax. He then set up TMI Studios with Jerry Williams and former Mar-Key Ronnie Stoots. Through TMI he played the guitar and produced various artists including Tower of Power, Rod Stewart, John Prine, José Feliciano, The Jeff Beck Group, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. He would also play the guitar on Big Star's cover of The Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale.
In 1975, Steve had moved to Los Angeles and he reformed Booker T. & the M.G's with Jackson and Dunn. Before the group could make their comeback, Jackson was murdered in his home in Memphis.
In 1978, Cropper and Dunn became members of Levon Helm's RCO All-Stars. Cropper and Dunn would also become part of the Blues Brothers Band. The Blues Brothers would feature in two albums and two films. Cropper would live in Los Angeles for the next 13 years.
In 1985, Cropper had a cameo in the Weird Al Yankovic mockumentary "The Compleat Al".
In 1988, Cropper moved to Nashville to be reunited with the Blues Brothers Band.
In 1992, Booker T. & the M.G's were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also that year, Cropper appeared with a new lineup of the band for the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Gardens. Neil Young would later recruit this lineup of the band to tour and record with him as his studio band.
In 1996, Cropper was named "the greatest living guitar player" by Britain's Mojo magazine.
In 2004, Dunn, Jones and Cropper were part of the backing band for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival at the Cotten Bowl in Dallas.
In 2005, the Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted Cropper.
In 2007, he co-produced Guy Sebastian's album "The Memphis Album" and played the guitar on the following tour.
In 2008, Cropper and Felix Cavaliere released the album "Nudge It Up A Notch". Also that year, Cropper appeared at the Rhythm Festival, alongside The Animals.
In 2009, EMP/SFM presented Cropper with the "Founders Award".
In 2010, Cropper was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 2011, Cropper released the album "Dedicated" in tribute to "The '5' Royales".
In 2013, he was a special guest as part of Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus Tour, which also featured Robert Cray and Vince Gill. Also that year he appeared with Jones and Murphy as Booker T and the M.G.'s at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival at Madison Square Garden.
Steve Cropper is currently in the house band on The Late Late Show With James Corden.

The Music History Calendar is written by the Blues Rock artist Marshland Pete
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