‘We wrote a very, very good song there’: Steve Cropper has his own history with Memphis’ Lorraine Motel

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The Lorraine Motel, refurbished now as the National Civil Rights Museum, has become a cultural touchstone in the wake of Martin Luther King’s murder. But that Memphis landmark holds another place of historical significance.

Steve Cropper once found himself ensconced right next door to the guest room where MLK met his awful fate, scribbling out ideas with Stax Records star Eddie Floyd.

“We wrote a very, very good song there called ‘Knock on Wood,’ which was No. 1 on the R&B charts,” Cropper remembers in this Right at Home Radio clip.

Not all of Cropper’s successes were created in the same considered manner as “Knock on Wood,” however. In fact, “Green Onions,” a R&B charttopper in 1962 for Cropper’s band Booker T. and the MGs, grew out of a happenstance moment.

“It was totally ad-libbed,” Cropper says. “Booker had played me a riff, probably with the intention of writing some lyrics to it. We were called into the studio on a Sunday, of all days — and we didn’t record on Sundays. Only Monday through Friday. But the artist didn’t show up, and we were just clowning around — jamming just to mark the time. (Stax Records co-founder) Jim Stewart just pushed the record button, because he liked what he heard.”

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