Memphis (Momentous) Minute - November 24, 1941
The universe was gracious beyond measure to Memphis this week in 1941. The other day I told you about Founding Fathers of Memphis music David Porter and Andrew Love, born on November 21, 1941. Today we celebrate two more. Use whatever fantastic metaphor you will, but three days later two more musical giants who put Memphis on the map again were born - one in Memphis, one across the Mississippi in West Memphis.
I saw him once, with my friend Steve at New Orleans’ House of Blues. We decided not to pay for a ticket but caught an encore. All I knew at the time was the car outside was in the movie and the musician inside was too. Maybe those few songs put me on the road to Memphis and it just took me twenty years to get here. The more I learn the more I kick myself for not convincing my buddy that it was what we should do that night. But we had other things and bands to see. Since then I have learned he was not on the first recording of that iconic song we saw live, the one first made here in 1962. But he was there at Satellite/Stax from the beginning. He and his birthday “twin” were both there when the Mar-Keys made the first record released by Stax Records.
His “twin” from West Memphis partnered with one literal musical giant from those early days at Satellite through hundreds of projects. His African-American musical partner towered over the short White kid. Together they established that Memphis soul sound, then just a few years later branched out when Stax wanted exclusivity but opportunities were knocking. The horn - and mind-blowing duo recorded 52 number ones, for Stax, American, Hi, and newer, younger artists and studios outside of Memphis. He’s on Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and U2’s “Angel of Harlem.”.
They didn’t just break through the sound barrier. Together, the two born on November 21, 1941 played integrated music with other white and black musicians, a real revolution in Memphis in the 60’s, a lesson we still need today. Working together across the racial divide can create opportunity and truly a beautiful environment anywhere.
I got just one glimpse of the bass player. He died while on the road making music in 2012. I may have caught a glimpse of the trumpet player, but didn’t know it. He worshipped at my church. We lost that dynamo in 2016, so I won’t get a second chance. They left their mark, these two Founding Fathers born just three days after songwriter David Porter and the trumpet player’s hit-backing partner Andrew Love. Today we remember cosmic lightning striking twice in Memphis in the same week. Born on this day in 1941, Donald “Duck” Dunn of the Mar-Keys and Booker T and the MG’s, and Wayne Jackson of the Mar-Keys and the Memphis Horns!
Here they are backing Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967