Considered an integral part of the Stax Records, and thus American R&B legend is rhythm guitarist extraordinaire Steve Cropper. As a guitarist, A & R man, engineer, producer, songwriting partner of Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd and a dozen others and founding member of both Booker T. and the MG's and The Mar-Keys, Cropper was literally involved in virtually every record issued by Stax from the fall of 1961 through year end 1970. Such credits assure Cropper of an honored place in the soul music hall of fame. As co-writer of “(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay,” “Knock on Wood” and “In the Midnight Hour,” Cropper is in line for immortality.
Born on October 21, 1941 on a farm near Dora, Missouri, Steve Cropper moved with his family to Memphis at the age of nine. In Missouri he had been exposed to a wealth of country music and little else. In his adopted home, his thirsty ears amply drank of the fountain of Gospel, R & B and nascent Rock and Roll that thundered over the airwaves of both black and white Memphis radio. Bit by the music bug, Cropper acquired his first mail order guitar at the age of 14. Personal guitar heroes included Tal Farlow, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Chet Atkins, Lowman Pauling of the Five Royales and Billy Butler of the Bill Doggett band.
The aspiring musician quickly became buddies with another guitar playing teenager named Charlie Freeman and together the two schoolmates formed a band they dubbed the Royal Spades. A hybrid version of the Spades, renamed the Mar-Keys, wrote and recorded a popping instrumental entitled “Last Night” in early summer 1961, Released on Satellite Records, the record shot into the Top 5 on both the pop and R & B charts, When a California company also called Satellite Records threatened to sue over use of the name, the Memphis-based Satellite metamorphosized into Stax.