Last Night Was Late For The Mar-Keys

October 20, 2015

 I've written about some Stax artists like Otis Redding, and how important the Stax session band was to all their records. With great musicians like Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Booker T. Jones and Issac Hayes, it was inevitable that they would also form a group and do instrumentals. Steve and Duck would eventually play with the Blues Brothers and become icons themselves.  Here' music historian John Hale to tell you about this song.  -- TDR

 

Last Night started out as a bunch of Memphis area teenagers noodling around with a riff somebody had come up with. Packy Axton played sax in the would-be band, so his mom Estelle Axton and his uncle, Jim Stewart, got a place outside of town for the band to practice. Eventually, Axton and Stewart acquired an old theater on McLemore Street in Memphis, and turned it into what would become Stax Records.

 

The band? They recorded, along with the help of a group of Memphis musicians, the song that became Last Night. However, it wasn't immediately released. It was played as an acetate at the record store Axton and Stewart built in the theater, and another acetate was given to a Memphis radio station, and got favorable listener review. Estelle Axton believed in the song, pitched a fit, and eventually coerced her brother into releasing the song as a single. Last Night went on to become a top ten hit in the early sixties, sold a million copies, and became one of the most popular instrumental hits of the rock and roll era. Not bad for a song that almost didn't get released at all.

 

Green Onions (live in Norway)

 

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