Booker T Jones
- Category : 1944-births
- Type : PM
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 4
American musician, performer, composer, record producer and songwriter. The renowned leader of the rock group "Booker T. and the MGs," Booker is probably best known for the instrumental work, "Green Onions," which sold a million copies in 1962, while he was still a senior in high school.
Raised in the black ghetto of Memphis, TN, his interest in music began with the gift of a dime store drum when he was just a toddler, and at age five, he taught himself chords on the ukulele and piano. His parents, both musically inclined, bought him a clarinet when he was nine. As a fourth grader, Booker wound up in the Porter Junior High School Band, playing the oboe, the instrument no other student wanted to tackle. Eventually he learned to play the saxophone and flute, and while attending Booker T. Washington High School, he added the trombone and baritone horn to his repertoire.
By the time he was 14, he was sneaking into local clubs. At 16, he began working at Stax Records, and with guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Lewie Steinberg and Al Jackson Jr. on drums, he formed the MGs. They worked as the studio house band for Stax during the 1960s, backing legendary performers like Otis Redding. Their music, described as an intriguing marriage of R&B and pop, and Booker’s impressive vocal talents, brought them success, and they are one of America’s most readily identifiable instrumental groups.
He attended Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, from 1962 to 1966, while still working for Stax; despite the difficulties of commuting, he earned a Bachelor of Music Education Degree, and completed his senior recital on the trombone. Booker remained active as a solo artist when he left the group in 1968. He relocated to Los Angeles, and began producing with Bill Withers’ 1971 gold record, "Ain’t No Sunshine." The band got back together during the mid-80s to perform for Atlantic Records’ 25th Anniversary Concert, and they played at a tribute concert for Bob Dylan in 1991. They toured Europe and the United States in 1993.
Booker T. & the MGs were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. They received a Grammy for their hit single, "Cruisin’," and received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Association. Booker’s music has been used in films such as "American Graffiti" and "Get Shorty." He plays occasional gigs in the Bay Area, and an evening’s performance ranges through what he calls the "soundtrack of his life," as he shares the songs and stories that have had the greatest impact on his life.
He lives with his wife Nan and their three children in northern California.