Green Onions

June 18, 2024

This month I’m focusing on Rock Songs of the 60s.

Today our song is:  Green Onions

Wikipedia tells us this about the song:

Booker T. Jones was the keyboard player for the house band of Stax Records with Al Jackson on drums, Lewie Steinberg on bass, and Steve Cropper on guitar. They started jamming in the studio one Sunday when a recording session with another singer, Billy Lee Riley, failed to take place. They played around with a piano groove that Jones had performed in clubs before, although Jones decided to use a Hammond organ because he thought it sounded better on the tune. The owner of Stax, Jim Stewart, became interested in recording the resulting tune, "Behave Yourself". However, the band needed a B-side for this song. Using a riff with a 12-bar blues bassline that Jones had, the band came up with a song that became "Green Onions". The guitarist Steve Cropper used a Fender Telecaster on "Green Onions", as he did on all of the M.G.'s instrumentals.

After recording, Cropper contacted Scotty Moore at Sun Records to cut a record. He then took the record to a DJ on the Memphis station WLOK, who played "Green Onions" on air. Due to positive reaction of the public to the song, it was quickly re-released as an A-side.

According to Booker T. Jones, the composition was originally to be called "Funky Onions", but the sister of Jim Stewart thought it "sounded like a cuss word"; it was therefore renamed "Green Onions". According to Cropper, the title is not a marijuana reference; rather, the track is named after the Green Badger's cat, Green Onions, whose way of walking inspired the riff. On a broadcast of the radio program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! on June 24, 2013, Jones was asked about the title and said, "The bass player thought it was so funky, he wanted to call it 'Funky Onions', but they thought that was too low-class, so we used 'Green Onions' instead."



  1. OMG! This is a great piece and I haven't heard it in a long time. I can picture my cat walking and playing to this tune.

  2. Booker T. and The MG's introduced me to great instrumental rock.


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