NAMM Oral History Interviewees Inducted into Memphis Music Hall of Fame
In September, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame celebrated its tenth year of inductions. Included in the 2022 class of honorees are Booker T. Jones and J.M. VanEaton, who are also part of NAMM’s Oral History Collection.
Booker T. Jones found early success playing the double bass, oboe, organ, piano, trombone, and saxophone. Considered a child prodigy, he began his professional career at 16 when he played baritone saxophone on Satellite (later known as Stax) Records’ first hit, “Cause I Love You” by Carla and Rufus Thomas. After recording the track, Willie Mitchell hired Jones to play in his band, and it was here that he met Al Jackson Jr., whom he later brought to Stax. While playing for Mitchell, Jones also formed a combo, playing guitar alongside Maurice White and David Porter.
In 1962, Jones met future bandmate Steve Cropper while hanging around the Satellite Record shop with the rest of the MGs, Lewie Steinberg (later replaced by Donald “Duck” Dunn) and Al Jackson Jr., coming together shortly after. That same year, while Jones was still in high school, he co-wrote the band’s biggest hit, “Green Onions.”
The second 2022 Memphis Music Hall of Fame inductee within the NAMM Oral History Collection is drummer, singer, and producer J.M. VanEaton. VanEaton and his first band, Jivin’ Five, played Dixieland jazz before transitioning to rock n’ roll and becoming the Echoes. The band recorded a demo at Sun Studio with prolific engineer Jack Clement, who saw promise in VanEaton and his bandmate and bass player, Marvin Pepper. Clement recommended the duo to singer Billy Lee Riley, who was forming the touring band Little Green Men.
Besides touring with Little Green Men, VanEaton toured with Conway Twitty and worked as a session musician at Sun. While recording at Sun, VanEaton recorded tracks including Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin‘ On” and alongside musicians like Johnny Cash, Charlie Feathers, Bill Justis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and Ray Smith.
The NAMM Oral History Collection consists of over 4,900 interviews, including many Memphis Music Hall of Fame alumni like Al Bell, Steve Cropper, John Fry, B.B. King, George Klein, Roland Janes, Scotty Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Kay Starr, and Big Star’s Jody Stephens.
The 2022 Class of the Memphis Hall of Fame inductees include Fred Ford, Jim Gaines, Booker T. Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Priscilla Presley, Billy Lee Riley, Mavis Staples, and J.M. VanEaton.