Booker T Jones – Green Onions
Booker T Jones
Booker T. Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 12, 1944. He was named in honor of his father, Booker T. Jones, Sr., who was named in honor of Booker T. Washington, the educator. Booker T. Jones, Sr. was a science teacher at the school, providing the family with a relatively stable, lower-middle-class milieu.
Jones was a prodigy, playing the oboe, saxophone, trombone, bass, and piano at school and serving as organist at his church. He attended Booker T. Washington High School, the alma mater of Rufus Thomas and shared the hallowed halls with future stars like Isaac Hayes’s writing partner David Porter; saxophonist Andrew Love of The Memphis Horns; soul singer/songwriter William Bell and Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Maurice White.
Jones’s first entry into professional music came at age sixteen, when he played baritone saxophone on Satellite (soon to be Stax) Records’ first hit, “Cause I Love You”, by Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas. Willie Mitchell had also hired him for his band where he started on sax and moved to bass later. It was here that he met Al Jackson, Jr., who he brought to Stax. Simultaneously, he formed a combo with Maurice White, and David Porter, where Jones played guitar.
Over the next few years, Jones divided his time between studying classical music composition, composing and transposition at Indiana University, playing with the MGs on the weekends back in Memphis, serving as a session musician with other Stax acts, and writing songs that would become classics. He wrote, with Eddie Floyd, “I’ve Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)”, Otis Redding’s “I Love You More Than Words Can Say”, and, with William Bell, Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign”. The latter would later be popularized in the cover version by power trio Cream.
In 1970, Jones moved to California and stopped playing sessions for Stax, after becoming frustrated with Stax’s treatment of the MGs as employees rather than musicians. Even though Jones was given the title of Vice President at Stax before leaving, as he put it, “There were titles given (to us) but we didn’t actually make the decisions”. While still under contract to Stax, he appeared on Stephen Stills’ eponymous album (1970). The 1971 album, Melting Pot would be the last Booker T. & the MGs album issued on Stax.
On February 12, 2012 The Road from Memphis won at the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Jones holds a total of 4 Grammy Awards.
Jones received an honorary doctorate degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music at the 2012 undergraduate commencement exercises on Saturday, May 5, 2012. He had originally attended Indiana University in the 1960s, even after having recorded hits for Stax Records.
Jones was featured on organ for singer Kelly Hogan on Hogan’s 2013 release on Anti- records, “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain.”
In June, 2013, Jones released his 10th album, Sound The Alarm, on Stax Records. It features guest artists Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq, Jay James, Mayer Hawthorne, Estelle, Vintage Trouble, Luke James, and Booker’s son Ted Jones.