It can be argued that it was Booker T. Jones who set the cast for modern soul music and is largely responsible for its rise and enduring popularity. On classic Stax hits such as “Green Onions,” “Hang ’Em High,” “Time Is Tight,” and “Melting Pot,” Jones pushed the music’s boundaries, refined it to its essence, and then injected it into the nation’s bloodstream. He has been honored by being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame; he also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and four Grammy Awards.
Although best-known as the frontman of the band Booker T. & the MGs, Jones made the charts as a solo artist and lent his trademark keyboards to other artists ranging in genre from Ray Charles to Neil Young. He also produced albums for Rita Coolidge, Bill Withers, Willie Nelson (Stardust), and others. Jones won back-to-back Grammy Awards in the category of Best Pop Instrumental Album for his 2011 release, The Road from Memphis, where he is backed by the hip-hop band The Roots, and for the 2009 album Potato Hole, which featured guests Neil Young and Drive-By Truckers. He was also in the spotlight leading an all-star band for a number of events for former President Barack Obama, the last being at a White House gala devoted to Memphis soul that aired on PBS.
Jones’s tenth studio album, Sound the Alarm, released in 2013, marked his historic return to Stax Records after forty years. It was critically acclaimed and featured collaborations with some of the finest talents in modern soul and R&B, including Mayer Hawthorne, Anthony Hamilton, Vintage Trouble, Estelle, Gary Clark Jr., Luke James, and others. Rolling Stone raved, “Booker T unleashes the blues on Sound the Alarm.”
Today, Jones is on tour once again. Catch him if you can, and change your plans to make it if you think you can’t.
Booker T. Jones is one of the legends of soul music.
Jones’ name is synonymous with the Hammond B3 organ. At 17, he recorded the instrument’s anthem, ‘Green Onions.’