"Al Jackson was the greatest single stroke player I ever hear in my life" said Steve Cropper , in a interview with Jim Payne for his book Give The Drummers Some!.Perhaps one of the greatest stories in American music history, is that of the multi-racial Booker T & The MGs, named by their drummer Mr Al Jackson Jr. The band broke boundaries limited in music, by having 2 white players; Donald Dunn & Steve Cropper and 2 Black players Al Jackson Jr, & Booker T. Unfortunately just Booker T & Steve Cropper are still with us today.
Perhaps the ground shaking nature of the band, set them apart from their contemporaries and allowed them to be one of the very few acts who emerged post original Rock n Roll (1954-1959) and the Beatles induced rock era (1963 - ). Their quintessential hit Green Onions is such a part of Western culture that it is grained into us seemingly by birth.
Al Jackson, alongside the rest of Booker T & The MGs, backed many of the greats of soul music during their time with Stax Records. During this time Al backed mega-stars like: Otis Redding, Albert King, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd and Carla Thomas.
Alongside many Stax artists, and members of the MGs he helped co-write hits such as Respect, which would go on to be one of the quintessential songs for Racial equality and Gender equality when recorded by Aretha Franklin.
In the 70s Al helped co-write many Al Green's biggest hits including his mega-hit Let's Stay Together. While also begin a session drummer for multiple stars such as Eric Clapton, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and Tina Turner among multiple others.
However the story of Al ended on a horrible early morning of October 1st 1975, before 3 am. Al returned home having been to the cinema with Eddie Floyd & Terry Manning, to watch The Thrill In Manilla boxing fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali. Upon entering his home he found intruders in his home, they told him to kneel and they then put 5 bullets into his back, he died there and then. The man who police believed shot him was the boyfriend of Denise LaSalle, he was a apparently a bank robber and he was shot dead by the police on July 15th 1976.
So today If you're doing nothing else, spare one of the greatest drummers of all time, some thought.
Al Jackson Jr
Born: 27th November 1935
Died: 1st October 1975.
Obviously the story is not as simple as I have said, there are many questionable aspects around his death, which are still unknown to his death, like his Wife, who shot him in July 1975. Unfortuantly we may never know the truth.