Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 19

and we see people dancing, I'll say, 'You know why that was a hit,
don't you?' and she'll say, 'Yeah, because you can dance to it,' and
I'll say, 'Exactly!'"
Cropper is still a busy man at 76, though due to his success - he
also co-wrote and/or produced/co-produced standards like Wilson
Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour," Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood"
and Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" - he can
work when he wants. He's been promoting Stax's anniversary and
the 50th anniversary of both the legendary Stax/Volt European tour
and Redding's scorching set (backed by The MG's) at the Monterey
Pop Festival.
Since Booker T. & The MG's backed Stax artists, a certain stylistic
feel was inherent, but they strived to make the other artists' music
different so it didn't just sound like a guest vocalist or instrumentalist.
"The best example is Albert King, who became the most-famous
blues guitar player of all time. Listen to any of his records then to
the records we made with him. We took what he was doing and made
it dance blues. We just brought it up a notch," Cropper said. "That
energy, I think, is what sold Stax music."
Though responsible for so much fantastic music, Cropper is still
electrified when he hears it on the airwaves.
"I think the most excitement and the biggest thrill you will ever get
out of being a musician or a songwriter is hearing either something
you've played on or wrote when it's on the radio," said Cropper.
"That's a thrill you just can't explain to people. That is the ultimate."
Those heady early days at Stax directly led Cropper to this point
in his life and career. Stax music mattered then and still does now.
"You can't hold that music down," he said. "It's too good."
These days, he tours regularly with The Original Blues Brothers
Band and the group's new album, The Last Shade of Blue Before Black,
is set for a fall release. Cropper and saxophonist Lou Marini ground
the band, which was conceived by "Saturday Night Live" comedians
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. 1980's musical comedy The Blues
Brothers is a beloved cult classic.
"A lot of people don't know this, but the basics of the Blues Brothers
band that played on the first record, Briefcase Full of Blues, and did
the movies had done two albums and two world tours with Levon
Helm & The RCO All-Stars," said Cropper.
Early in his career, he was known for playing a Fender Esquire and
Telecaster. Cropper said the guitars didn't distort, and engineers and
producers preferred the way their clean tone cut through on songs'
backbeats.
"I liked the Tele because it had two pickups. It was a little more
versatile than an Esquire, which had one pickup," said Cropper.
His main guitar for the past nine years has been a Peavey custom.
"It's a one-of-a-kind Telecaster copy and it's laminated so it's very
light. It's a solidbody, but it's all been hollowed out and laminated.
It's a great guitar. Great tone," he said.
Cropper also had a Peavey signature model, the Cropper Classic,
created because he envisioned a quality, affordable Telecaster-like
guitar for beginning guitarists.
"I spoke with Hartley Peavey and said, 'I need to put a Tele-style
guitar on the market for under $1,000.' He said, 'I'll build that guitar
for you.' It's not a cheap guitar," said Cropper. "I've got fan mail that
said, 'I bought it because it had your name on it, and now it's my
favorite guitar. I take it everywhere I go.'"
Cropper isn't much of a collector and he's not much into acoustic
guitars, but when the economy tanked nearly a decade ago, as an
investment for his children he bought several Gibson J-200s that
people were selling. He also has a Gretsch Chet Atkins model given
to him by The Who drummer Keith Moon. - Bret Adams

January 2018

19

VINTAGE GUITAR


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 4
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Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - Contents
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Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - IBC
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