39. Steve Cropper
Peter Buck has called Steve Cropper "probably my favorite guitarist of all time. You can't think of a time when he really ripped off a hot solo, but he just plays perfectly." Cropper has been the secret ingredient in some of the greatest rock and soul songs: As a teenager, he had his first hit ("Last Night") with the Mar-Keys; he went on to spend most of the Sixties in Booker T. and the MGs, the Stax Records house band that played on hits by Carla Thomas, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. Since then, his spare, soulful playing has appeared on records by dozens of rock and R&B artists, including a stint in the Blues Brothers' band. Think of the introduction to Sam and Dave's "Soul Man," the explosive bent notes in Booker T.'s "Green Onions" or the filigreed guitar fills in Redding's "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" – they all bear Cropper's signature sound, the quintessence of soul guitar. "I don't care about being center stage," says Cropper. "I'm a band member, always been a band member."
Key Tracks: "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," "Green Onions," "Soul Man"