Niagara Gazette — Young as I was, I associated Jimmy Reed and his Delta style music with what I was reading about in Ebony and Jet magazines and hearing about late at night from my nine volt transistor radio, which, on a good night could carry me thousands of miles from home. I had begun following reports of the voter registration drives going on in Mississippi and the hell that people were going through just to be able to cast their votes in the national and local elections.
One such registration drive was taking place in McComb Mississippi. With all their might, the local political machine was doing everything they could to suppress black voter participation, and when I say everything, I mean everything.
People were forced to take so-called literacy tests, fired from their jobs, beaten, and murdered that year. I remember it well, especially whenever I hear Jimmy Reed doing “Big Boss Man”.
Few know it today, but it was in McComb where much of the courage and strength to stand up against voter suppression was born. Stretched out in the darkness, I recall another musical icon that I associate with politics, campaigns and progress.
The first time I heard Booker T and the M.G.s, I headed straight to the piano in my parent’s living room and played the whole song by ear, all four of the basic notes around which the song was constructed.
I figured out the rest later.
Green Onions was released on Stax Records in October of 1962 and it was an immediate global smash hit. A simple twelve-bar blues piece with a captivating Hammond organ line running all the way through it, Green Onions is still one of my all time favorite, covered by thousands of bands all over the world today.