Live at the Ryman
Steve Cropper’s 80th Birthday Bash
with Billy F. Gibbons, James Burton, Henry Cho, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Eddie Floyd, Mike Mills, Phil Vassar, Jason Scheff, Randy Owen & more
$150 / $79.50 / $69.50 / $59.50 / $25
On sale Monday, July 26 at 10 AMBuy Tickets
Fresh off the release of his solo album, Fire It Up, The “Colonel” Steve Cropper announced Steve Cropper’s 80th Birthday Bash: An All-Star Concert Celebration featuring Cropper, Billy F. Gibbons, James Barton, Henry Cho, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of the Doobie Brothers, Eddie Floyd, Mike Mills of R.E.M., Phil Vassar, Jason Scheff of Chigago, Randy Owen of ALABAMA, plus surprise guests. Cropper will be celebrating at Ryman Auditorium on September 7, 2021.
About Steve Cropper
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.
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. By the time of the Mar-Keys record, Cropper was something of a studio veteran, already having played sessions for Sun, Duke-Peacock and Hi Records. It was only natural, then. that shortly after quitting the Mar-Keys during their first tour, Cropper was given the keys to the Stax studio and became, along with company co-owner Jim Stewart, the label’s de facto A&R man and engineer.
Booker T. & the MG’s were born when Cropper, keyboardist Booker T. Jones, drummer Al Jackson and bassist Lewie Steinberg were hired for a session in late summer 1962 at the then-fledgling Stax Records. When the rockabilly singer the quartet was ostensibly hired to accompany finished early, the four musicians whiled away their time jamming on a blues. Unbeknownst to any of them, Stax co-owner and erstwhile engineer Jim Stewart turned on a tape deck. Satisfied with the results, the four newly constituted band members worked up a second side which came to be known as “Green Onions.”
In 1977, with Stax alumni Willie Hall filling in for the late Al Jackson, the MG’s briefly reunited to record the Universal Language LP for Asylum. Shortly thereafter Cropper and Dunn joined Levon Helm’s RCO All-Stars and then received a call from John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd which resulted in the formation of the Blues Brothers Band. The original incarnation of the Blues Brothers recorded three albums, including the number one Briefcase Full of Blues, and made a hilarious eponymously-titled feature film.
When the Blues Brothers ceased active duty after the passing of Belushi in the spring of 1982, Cropper continued to be in constant demand as both a producer and session guitarist. He also found time to resume his solo career, recording two albums for MCA in 1980 ( Playin’ My Thang) and 1982 ( Night After Night). His first solo album, With a Little Help From My Friends, had been recorded for Stax back in 1969.
Perhaps the ultimate testament to Steve Cropper’s immense contribution to popular music over the last four decades was his ranking by England’s Mojo Magazine in 1996 as the number two guitarist of all-time (Jimi Hendrix was number one). And in 2003, Rolling Stone magazine readers voted him among the Top 100 Guitar Players of all-time.
As impressive as that is, Steve Cropper’s legacy as a solo artist, member of Booker T. and the MG’s and the Blues Brothers, session musician and producer is far from complete. Steve also owns a state-of-the-art recording studio in Nashville called Insomnia Studio. Here’s looking forward to the next few decades.
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