Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

September 26, 2013

Booker T taking Bears Den stage Friday

Night & Day — Few living musicians are as revered as the legendary Booker T. Jones. Born in Memphis, he was one of the pioneers of Stax records, starting as a session musician and later releasing one of the record labels signature hits, “Green Onions,” with his band Booker T & the M.G’s.

Booker T is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and the recipient of a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.

He comes to town Friday night at the Seneca Niagara Casino’s Bears Den for an 8 p.m. performance.

In anticipation of that show, I had the honor of interviewing Booker T by phone about his extraordinary career. The first question I asked him was about his time at Stax studios and how it compares to modern era recording.

“I was fortunate enough to become involved in one of the first studio families. Because of electronics, you can now have sessions with people from all over. It definitely changes the social aspect of recording music.”

Many of his sessions were legendary, including recording the song “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay,” by Otis Redding.

“There is no way you can forget that one. My role as keyboardist was to stay focused and not get too carried away in the emotion of the song. I do have a vivid memory of that session.”

Redding died in a plane crash at the age of 26, right before the song became a hit. It was a personal and professional loss for Booker T.

“We were a lot alike; we were good friends and hung out a lot. The greatest loss was as a songwriter but he did do great on cover songs. The songs he wrote were incredible like “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” which he wrote with Jerry Butler and “Respect” (a song that Aretha Franklin later covered). I appreciate having known him.”

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