‘You just don’t do that’: Steve Cropper’s biggest hit once became his biggest embarassment

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Steve Cropper settled into the theater seats with his wife and another couple, ready to enjoy the new film American Graffiti in 1973. He had no idea what was about to happen next.

Turns out, unbeknownst to him, director and co-writer George Lucas had slipped perhaps Cropper’s most famous moment with Booker T. and the MGs, the huge hit “Green Onions,” into a key moment in the movie.

“We were watching this film and I had no idea,” Cropper remembers during an on-stage introduction to “Green Onions.” “But the kids get ready for this big race, and on comes this song. My good buddy’s wife, she jumps up in the middle of the theater and goes: ‘He wrote that song!’ I couldn’t slide under the seats in front of me quick enough.”

The Grammy Hall of Fame song “Green Onions” went to No. 3 on the Billboard pop charts in 1963, and topped the R&B list an amazing four different times. That made it perfect for Lucas’ tale of growing up in California in the early 1960s.

To this day, however, the understated Cropper remains embarrassed about what happened that day in the theater.

“When you to go the movies, when I grew up, it’s sort of like going to the library,” Cropper adds, laughing at the memory. “You watch the film, and you keep your mouth shut. … You just don’t do that in public, but she did!”

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