Friday, August 05, 2016
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Mar-Keys
Album:Last Night!/Do The Pop-Eye
The Mar-Keys were the very first Stax Records studio house band. They backed up Stax artists and scored a top five pop hit in 1961 with Last Night. They called themselves The Royal Spades when they were in high school in Memphis. Members included Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass, Terry Johnson on drums, Jerry Lee "Smoochie" Smith on piano, Don Nix and Charles "Packy" Axton on sax and Wayne Jackson on trumpet. Axton's mom Estelle Axton founded Stax Records with Jim Stewart. She changed the band name to The Mar-Keys and they backed up Carla Thomas and other Stax artists. They recorded Last Night in 1961 and it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. This instrumental was written in the recording studio by producer Chips Moman, Jerry Lee Smith and the horn section of Charles Axton, Floyd Newman and Gilbert Caple. Cropper said Smith came up with the basic riff. There's no guitar on the song but Cropper played organ. The Mar-Keys recorded two albums which have been reissued on one CD by Ace Records. Soon after, Cropper left The Mar-Keys to form Booker T & The MGs with Booker T. Jones, Lewie Steinberg and Al Jackson Jr. and they became the house band at Stax. Dunn replaced Steinberg in 1964. The Mar-keys horns were brought in when needed. Though The Mar-Keys continued to record, some of their recordings were credited to Booker T & The MGs because they sold better under that name. The Mar-Keys disbanded in 1966 though the horn section continued to record and tour with Stax and would later become The Memphis Horns. The Mar-Keys reunited to record in 1969 but they split up for good in 1971. A version of The Mar-Keys led by Packy Axton's son Chuck Axton toured a few years ago. I think that was a one shot deal. Here's The Mar-Keys performing Last Night on the 1967 Stax British tour.