Booker T. and the MGs were the house band at Stax Records in Memphis, Tenn., and their lean, tough grooves are an integral part of the Stax sound. For years, the group — Booker T. Washington on Hammond organ, Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar and Al Jackson on drums — backed almost every artist to record at the Stax studio, including Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Rufus & Carla Thomas, and Sam & Dave.
The band also found time to record instrumentals under their own name, producing hits including "Green Onions," "Time Is Tight" and "Hang 'em High." At the time it was not the norm for black and white musicians to appear onstage together, especially in the South, but the integrated MG's — Washington and Jackson were black, Dunn and Cropper white — offered a model of racial and musical harmony. Jackson was shot to death in 1975; the others continued to perform as a unit, backing musicians including Neil Young and Eric Clapton. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.