Clips & Pix: Booker T. Jones Demonstrates Hammond B3

When one of the coolest Hammond B3 players on the planet demonstrates the legendary organ and chats about how he got into playing this beautiful instrument, you know you’re in for a treat! To me the above NPR footage of Booker T. Jones hands-down is one of the most mesmerizing music clips I’ve ever watched on YouTube. Observing the man explain how you “crawl” on the Hammond and seeing the joy he still gets out of playing the organ is just priceless. His voice isn’t shabby either! If you’re into soulful music craftsmanship and haven’t seen this yet, I would strongly encourage you to invest the 18 minutes it takes to watch this clip in its entirety.

In fact, if you’ve visited the blog in the past, you may have seen a previous feature I did on the Hammond B3 back in June 2017. That piece included the above clip as well, but it was kind of buried all the way at the end. I was reminded of this great footage last night when I talked to a keyboarder of a jam band. I told him Green Onions would be a cool addition to their set list and in this context mentioned Jones’ great demo and that he had to watch it. Did I mention I can have strong opinions about music? In any case, I felt featuring this clip again and this time doing it more prominently was warranted.

Apart from Jones sharing nice anecdotes from the past, including how his piano teacher changed his life, he plays three tunes: Green Onions, Born Under A Bad Sign and Down In MemphisGreen Onions became a signature tune for Booker T. & The M.G.s in 1962 and launched their career as a standalone act. Of course, they were primarily known as the house band of Stax Records where they backed such amazing artists like Wilson Pickett, Otis ReddingCarla Thomas and Albert King on hundreds of recordings.

Born Under A Bad Sign was co-written by Jones and Stax longtime recording artist William Bell for Albert King, who recorded it in 1967. The tune became the title track of King’s second studio album that appeared in August of the same year. Jones closes out his presentation with Down In Memphis, a new song at the time this footage was recorded. The track was included on Jones’ ninth studio album The Road From Memphis released in May 2011. I don’t recall having ever listened to that record, so I should go and check it out!

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube

26 thoughts on “Clips & Pix: Booker T. Jones Demonstrates Hammond B3”

      1. I listened into two albums thus far: ‘The Road From Memphis’ (2011), the record that includes ‘Down In Memphis,’ one of the tunes Booker T. played during his Hammond presentation; and ‘Sound The Alarm’ (2013), which appears to be his most recent studio album.

        Based on his website, he’s still performing and currently touring. Though there are only three gigs left, and none of the venues is close to me. I imagine seeing him at a smaller venue must be awesome.

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      2. Bruce is unreal. He literally seems to play himself into a trance-like stage and just keeps going like the Duracell bunny!😀

        I suppose when you’re his backing musician, you got your work cut out!😆

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      3. Ironically, one of them passed away at the young age of 52, even though he didn’t take drugs. One the other hand, you have a guy like Mick Jagger who despite his past still is in admirable shape at age 75.

        To be clear, I’m not judging here, only stating facts. Heck, since the Stones are among my all-time favorite bands, I hope they will still be rocking in their 80s. Keith already looks the part!😆

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      4. Right. Zappa disparaged drugs so much he bummed out the SNL cast back in the day and was never invited back. But I never saw him (or Bowie) without cigarettes in their hands.

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      5. Well, I suppose chain-smoking isn’t exactly healthy either.

        Though John Mellencamp does it because it’s giving him a rough voice he likes. He also has the peculiar theory that it’s okay to chain-smoke as long as you don’t combine it with alcohol. Fortunately, I like his music a lot better than his theory!😆

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      6. He may well live to regret that statement. I never smoked (cigarettes) but I was listening to somebody on the radio say that kicking nicotine is tougher than kicking heroin.

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      7. If you’re the friggin Rolling Stones or The Who and care about your fans, there are certain tunes you just have to play. As for “My Generation,” there would be an easy lyrical fix: “Hope I don’t die before I get old”!🎸

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      8. That would probably be the most rational thing to do.

        Since I really started going to concerts more frequently only a few years ago, I still feel the need to catch up, especially when it comes to bigger acts. In order to do that without going broke, I usually settle for tickets in the cheaper seats.

        I definitely wouldn’t spend $300. I think my maximum would be $150-200. For that it would have to be a really great act – somebody like McCartney!

        None of this makes too much sense. But then again, who said rock & roll is rationale. Plus, you only live once and you don’t know for how long!

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  1. You pointed me to this earlier. I see you contributed ‘Onions’ to Music Enthusiast list. Love that choice. I think I did my first take on it. I seen Booker T and the Drive By Truckers on a PBS program a few years ago. It was very good.

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