John Belushi’s death almost ended Steve Cropper’s career: ‘Man, that’s it; I’ve had it’

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Steve Cropper has had several signature moments in popular music — as a sideman, composer and producer on so many key Stax sides, and as a member of both Booker T. and the MGs and the Blues Brothers. Cropper is still active today as a solo artist.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t dark times.

Otis Redding, with whom Steve Cropper had such a fruitful relationship, died in a 1967 plane crash — even as the two were working on what would become the smash “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” MGs drummer Al Jackson was murdered in 1975, just as the group was gearing up for a reunion project.

Then John Belushi, with whom Steve Cropper had recently completed a smash movie — released on June 20, 1980 — along with an album and tour as the Blues Brothers, overdosed in 1982. For a time, it all seemed to be too much for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

“There was a dead spot in my life,” Cropper tells Michael Berry, “where I took some time off. When John Belushi died, I just kind of said: ‘Man, that’s it. I’ve had it.’ I’d been through that before. We’d lost our drummer, we lost Otis Redding, and other artists that I had worked with. You talk about letting the air out of a balloon. I just didn’t have any reason, or want or need, to be successful or do anything.”

Luckily for music fans, Steve Cropper rebounded: 1992 brought that hall of fame nod for Booker T. and the MGs, and Cropper reunited with the group. More recently, the guitarist has issued four solo albums since 2007 — including 2011’s well-received Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales.

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