He had moved from Missouri to Memphis as a youngster, undergoing a dramatic change in both his personal and his musical life. Surrounded by gospel and the earliest blossomings of rock and roll, he pined for one of those 17-dollar Sears and Roebuck flat-top acoustics.
And eventually, he asked his father. “You hear those stories over and over again, of parents disciplining their children — saying ‘you keep playing music, and you will be bum,’” Cropper tells us, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “My dad never did that. Instead, and I always gave him credit for it, he said: ‘Son, learn how to play, and we’ll buy you a guitar.’ And we did.”
When the Sears delivery truck arrived, however, Cropper learned a hard lesson about the free market, one that potentially could have cost him his career.
“I waited all morning for them to finally deliver that guitar. They showed up with it in a box, but there was a quarter delivery charge. I had exactly 17 dollars!” Cropper adds, laughing uproariously. “My mom gave me the money, but she always said: ‘If I hadn’t lent you that quarter, you’d never have been famous.'”