‘I had exactly 17 dollars!’: Lack of a quarter almost cost Steve Cropper his Hall of Fame career

Steve Cropper was, in theory, a quarter away from never becoming the Hall of Fame figure on all of those classic Stax tracks, 25 cents short on a life-long dream.

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.'”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
  • justiceminister

    A marvellous guitarist and a warm man as I found out when shaking hands on his tour of the UK last year.