By no reasonable measure would one describe Booker T. and the M.G.’s as being obscure. You’ve almost assuredly heard their first and biggest hit, “Green Onions” more times than you can remember. Belle and Sebastian played a cover of the tune while Stuart was out mingling with the audience when I saw them in concert. Nevertheless, you’ve probably heard Booker T. and the M.G.’s more often as a backing band for some other artist.
That’s actually how these guys got their start, playing behind some of the biggest stars at Stax Records in the 60’s. Even while they were releasing successful and influential material of their own, they were still also playing backup on some of the era’s great soul tracks like “Hold On, I’m Comin”, “Soul Man” and “Try a Little Tenderness”. Aside from “Green Onions”, they had some success on the charts with tracks like “Time is Tight” and a cover version of the soundtrack from the Clint Eastwood film, “Hang ’em High”. Ultimately, Booker T. and the M.G.’s would go down in history has having a huge influence on not just soul music, but also pop and rock music, as they were an influential force on bands like the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival.