Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

September 26, 2013

Booker T taking Bears Den stage Friday


Night & Day — Last year, Booker T. lost another friend, longtime bass player for Booker T & the M.G’s Donald “Duck” Dunn.

“He had such a great work ethic. The way he and Steve (Cropper) approached the instrument with such love was incredible. He was an authority when it came to rhythm and blues.”

While he is probably best known for the instrumental song “Green Onions,” Booker T also co-wrote one of the most famous blues songs of all time, “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which has been covered by Cream, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, and Paul Rodgers.

“My favorite version is Albert King doing it, he really made it come alive. We had a sketch of the song and he really made it his own. He was like Nat King Cole of the blues, with that amazing guitar sound. He played guitar like Hendrix, upside down and on the left side of the body. Most guitarists push down on the strings and he could pull on them.”

We wrapped up our conversation discussing the origins of “Green Onions,” an accidental hit that was intended as the B-side of the song “Behave Yourself.”

“I was actually trying to make up an interesting progression of chords. I was taking music theory in high school. It was my first year of theory I had learned about the I IV V chord progression and began experimenting with it and I came up with the combination. It’s a basic blues rhythm.”

There have been many versions as to where the name of the song originated, but Booker T says it’s pretty simple.

“It came from the bass player, Lewie Steinberg, he said, ‘man that is funky, funky like funky onions.’ Then (drummer) Al Jackson’s sister said you couldn’t call it funky onions and said we should call it ‘Green Onions.’ “

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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