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© Brian Hineline/Retna Ltd./Corbis
Plenty of guitarists play ‘in the pocket,’ but as a member of the famous Stax Records house band, otherwise known as Booker T & The MGs, Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper pretty much invented the term.
His unique manner of weaving soulful rhythms and hooky lead lines (think Soul Man) throughout vocals can be heard on dozens of hits by the likes of Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, Carla, and most notably on Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay. (Cropper not only co-wrote the smash with Redding, he produced the track.)
Booker T & The MGs racked up hits of their own, but following their breakup, Cropper, along with Booker T bassist Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, rose to a new level of fame as a member of The Blues Brothers Band, backing Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi on TV, albums and in a big-budget movie.
Cropper has played a variety of Telecasters, but his main Stax studio axe was a 1956 white blonde Esquire. He would eventually replace single-coil pickups with humbuckers on later Teles.