Al Jackson, Jr. was the excellent drummer who kept Booker T. & the MG's in line, both on their own recordings as well as on dozens of sessions for artists contracted to Hi and Stax Records. Born in Memphis in 1934, he came up with producer Willie Mitchell at the Hi label and played on dozens of hits by Al Green and Ann Peebles, among others. Keyboard player Booker T. Jones, who had played in Mitchell's band as well, considered Jackson the best drummer in Memphis. In 1962, he persuaded Jackson to join Stax Records, where the pair joined guitarist Steve Cropper and (later) bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn to form Booker T. & the MG's, arguably the best house band in history.
The group played on virtually every recording by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Carla and Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd, and William Bell during the mid- to late '60s. Booker T. & the MG's were hitmakers as well, thanks to instrumental tracks like "Green Onions," "Hip Hug-Her," "Hang 'Em High," and "Time Is Tight."
By 1971, however, popularity drove the group apart as both Cropper and Jones spent much time away from Memphis. During the early '70s, Jackson spent time working as both a session drummer and producer, appearing on albums by Eric Clapton, Donny Hathaway, Freddie King, Herbie Mann, the Soul Children, Shirley Brown, and Rance Allen. In 1975, Booker T. & the MG's re-formed and began recording a reunion album. Later that year, however, Jackson was tragically shot and killed in his home; reports conflict on whether the culprit was a burglar or his wife.