Steve Cropper was determined to work with Percy Sledge: ‘Just pay me union minimum’

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When Steve Cropper finally got a chance to work with Percy Sledge, he did everything he could to make it happen — regardless of the cost.

In fact, as producer Saul Davis remembered in the wake of Sledge’s sad passing yesterday at the age of 74, Cropper “came to L.A. on his own dime” to participate in sessions that would produce Percy Sledge’s Grammy-nominated Blue Night in 1994.

There couldn’t be any higher praise for Sledge. After all, Steve Cropper extensively collaborated with one of the all-time greats in Otis Redding.

“He had never recorded with Percy,” Blue Night producer Saul Davis tells the Los Angeles Times, “and he said, ‘I’ll pay for my rental car; I’ll pay for my hotel, my air flight. Just pay me union minimum’ — I think it was around $600 — ‘I just want to be on this record.’ He wound up playing on, I think, three songs on that one.”

Blue Night marked an emotional comeback for Percy Sledge, who was returning to the studio for the first time in 20 years. He’d spent much of that time performing, night and night, always ending with his timeless 1966 hit “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Now, it was time for new memories.

For Blue Night, Sledge and Cropper would update Redding’s “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember.” Rolling Stones alum Mick Taylor played on Percy Sledge’s new version of the Gibb brothers’ “Your Love Will Save the World.” Bobby Womack sat in elsewhere.

“We couldn’t find any good guitarists,” Saul Davis deadpans. “We just had Steve Cropper, Mick Taylor, Greg Leisz and Bobby Womack.”

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