Monday, May 16, 2005

Tribute to Al Jackson


The Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969 was a three day event that drew over 400,000 people. Only the most respected bands were invited to perform. During the middle of Booker T. and The MG's hit song "Time Is Tight", drummer Al Jackson peeks from behind bassist Duck Dunn to spot me. With a big grin he summoned "How'd the heck you get up here Man?"

It has been mentioned that Al Jackson might have been the worlds greatest drummer. Sadly it seems his early passing only goes to cloud the issue. But industry leaders and fellow musicians preserve his legacy with the highest regard. Although it was never really confirmed, Jackson also was probably the untitled leader of Booker T. and The MG's. The way that I figured it, any person who could tell Otis Redding or Steve Cropper what to do - got my vote.

When things started to get shaky at Stax due to the undercurrents of new leadership, Booker T. up-and-moved to California and Al Jackson began writing and doing sessions for Willie Mitchell at Royal Studios. Those circumstances didn't sit well with management. By this time the broth had been spoiled.

Truthfully speaking, I didn't know Al Jackson that well. Ofcourse we always greeted each other by shaking hands at company functions and occasionally chatted at the water cooler. More so, I think that he recognized that I purposely stayed on the outer fringes by seeking refuge within the media. The safest place for a foot soldier was staying buried in the trenches. But the thing that I liked about Al was whenever he entered into a room, he would always establish direct eye-contact with me. Without saying anything, he would simply wink-his-eye at me as if to say that I was on his radar screen. That impressed me and earned my deep respect. God rest his soul.

On stage it was over 100 degrees during the afternoon concert. In an effort to shield from the intense Georgia sunlight, here Jackson performs an entire song with a towel draped over his head.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Miguel Lyons-Cavazos said...

I would be interesting in getting in contact. I'm a drummer, and a huge Al Jackson fan. I'm creating a rhythm section wall of fame in my music room, and Al and the MG's are at the tope of the list (list now includes the Muscle Shoals Rhythm section and Motown's Funk Brothers). That said, I'm looking for photos of Booker T and MG's to grace the wall. Can you help? My email is miguel@cheskin.com. Thanks!

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Phillip,

Two incredible photograph of the
M.G.'s!! The one of Al playing a
whole song with a towel on his
head is a peach.

Al Jackson has always been my all
time total hero (which sounds a
bit sad coming from a 51 year old
married man with four kids!) This
photo confirms what a great
character he was. I think we all
know what an amazing drummer
he was.

Your tribute to him was very
moving.

Great site by the way!

Alan Perkin
Liverpool
England.

2:45 PM  

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