Tag Archives: Steve Cropper

Americana: Fender Guitars

 

Just about every famous rock guitarist has made his name using a Fender guitar. Rock history has been played on a Stratocaster. Uploaded by wallpaperstag.com.

Picture Leo Fender in his California electronics workshop in the late 1930s. Fixing phonographs, radios, and public address systems. Oh…and instrument amplifiers. He had ideas, did Leo. Ideas about perfecting the electric guitar that would lead him to form the Fender Electric Instrument Company in 1946. He tinkered, and fiddled, and created a masterpiece. The first mass-produced, solid body, Spanish-style guitar: The Telecaster.

Jimi Hendrix playing a Stratocaster at Woodstock. Uploaded by jasobrecht.com.

Think Jeff Beck, Steve Cropper, and George Harrison. Pete Townshend smashed a slew of them.

The next step was the Stratocaster. Which is only good enough for the likes of Eric Clapton, Dick Dale, and some guy named Hendrix.

There are other great guitars. Even other great American guitars. But almost everyone who picks up a guitar wants to own at least one Fender. It’s truly a great guitar. A Great American Thing.

Originally posted April 24, 2009.

Song: “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”

Otis Redding didn't live to see his first and only number one hit. He was killed in a plane crash days after recording this song. Uploaded by urbanfluteproject.com.

Otis Redding died in a plane crash near Madison, Wisconsin just three days after overdubs of “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” were recorded. Co-writer and producer Steve Cropper completed production, and it was released a month after Redding’s death. It became his only number one song, and the first-ever song to reach the top of the charts posthumously.

Uploaded by ansard.wordpress.com.

Redding had indeed “left his home in Georgia heading for the Frisco Bay.” He lived in a houseboat in Sausalito, California, where he’d “listen to the ships come in, and then watch them roll away again.” Guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T & The MG’s (the house band for Memphis label Stax Records) helped flesh out the lyrics. The result was a song completely different from Redding’s body of work, and gave a hint of what could have been as the artist expanded into a more pop-based sound.

The story goes that Redding and Cropper didn’t have a last verse of the song, so Otis whistled it until they could fill it in at a later date. The plane crashed ruined that plan, but Cropper felt the whistling fit the mood of the song perfectly, and left it in.

“(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” won the Grammy for Best R&B song and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. BMI marked it as the sixth-most-recorded song of the 20th century. And in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, it was ranked number 28.