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the mar-keys

The Mar-Keys

Formed in 1958 in Memphis, the Markeys comprised of:

Steve Cropper (guitar) (b. 21st October 1941, Willow Spring, Missouri, U.S.A.)

Charlie ‘Redman’ Freeman (guitar) (b. U.S.A. d. 31st January 1973, U.S.A.)

Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (bass) (b. 24th November 1941, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., d . 13th May 2012, Tokyo, Japan)

Charles ‘Packy’ E. Axton (tenor sax) (b. 17th February 1941, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A. d. January 1974, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.) 

Floyd Sidney Newman III (saxophone, vocals) (b. 1940's, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

William Donald Nix (saxophone) (b. 27th September 1941, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

James Terry Johnson a.k.a. Dr. James Terry Johnson (piano, drums) (b. 3rd April 1943, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A. d. 19th March 2016, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Wayne Lamar Jackson (Trumpet) (b. 24th November 1941, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A. d. 21st June 2016, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Jerry Lee ‘Smoochie’ Smith (keyboards) (b. 13th November 1939, Missouri, U.S.A.)

Booker T. Jones (keyboards) (b. 12th November 1944, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Isaac Lee Hayes (organ) (b. 20th August 1942 Covington, Tennessee, U.S.A. d. 10th August 2008, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Al Jackson, Jr. (drums) (b. 27th November 1934, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., d. 1st October 1975, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Billy Purser (a.k.a. Gary Burbank) (drums) (b. July 1941, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Rick Keefer (bass guitar)


Gene Parker (tenor sax)

The Mar-Keys were originally known as The Royal Spades.

That group submitted music to the Satellite Records imprint (which later became Stax Records).

When they were finally successful, Stax’s co-creator, Estelle Axton, convinced them to change their name to The Mar-Keys.

The group’s lineup varied at this time.

The Mar-Keys were the backing band on many early Stax Records releases, in Memphis, Tennessee, and also recorded their own material.

As Stax’s house band for the label, their contributions became the foundation for the early 1960’s Stax sound.

The Mar-KeysThe Mar-Keys

last night b/w night before - 1961

The group’s debut single for Satellite ‘Last Night’ b/w ‘Night Before’, became an instant hit, charting at number 3 in 1961.

The single sold over one million copies, becoming a gold disc.

The Mar-KeysThe Mar-KeysThe Mar-KeysThe Mar-Keys

last night! - 1961 / do the pop-eye - 1962 / the great memphis sound - 1966 / back to back - 1967

The group signed to Atlantic for the release of the ‘Last Night!’ album in 1961.

In 1962, a second album entitled ‘Do The Pop-Eye’ was also released on Atlantic.

The group recorded a further 3 solo albums for Stax records during the Sixties, which included ‘The Great Memphis Sound’ (in 1966), Damifiknow!’ (in 1969) and ‘Memphis Experience’ (in 1971).

The group featured on two multi artist album releases, both in 1967, which were ‘On Stage Live’ and ‘Back To Back’.

The Mar-keys line-up varied greatly during their lifetime, however, the spine of the group featured: Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg, Donald Duck Dunn, Marvell Thomas, Booker T. Jones, Isaac Hayes, Wayne Jackson, Floyd Newman, Gilbert Caple, Packy Axton, Andrew Love and Al Jackson.

In 1962 the rhythm section became Booker T & The MG’s, who in turn, were later to become The Memphis Horns.

The Mar-Keys were the backing band on singles and albums by many artists who recorded at Stax studios, including Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Wilson Pickett, amongst others.

Extra curricular sessions meant that Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg, Booker T. Jones and Al Jackson began performing with Booker T. & the M.G.'s in 1962.

The Stax house band became either the Mar-Keys or Booker T. & the M.G.'s, depending on the style of music required.

By 1965, Booker T. & the M.G.'s were becoming more successful than the Mar-Keys.

As a result, by 1966 the Mar-Keys name was no longer appearing on singles, however, the name continued to be used in certain circumstances.

The Mar-Keys name was used whenever horn players Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson performed with Booker T. & the M.G.'s.

The Mar-KeysThe Mar-Keys

damnifiknow! - 1969 / memphis experience - 1971

By 1969, the group were recording again, releasing ‘Damifiknow!’

When the 1971 album, ‘Memphis Experience’, was released, the material amounted to a compilation of instrumentals.

The Mar-Keys were hugely influential in the formation of Southern and Memphis Soul.

The Mar-Keys

Real Player


Last Night! (Atlantic Records 1961)

Do The Pop-Eye (Atlantic Records 1962)

The Great Memphis Sound (Stax Records 1966)

Back to Back (Stax Records 1967)

Damifiknow! (Stax Records 1969)

Memphis Experience (Stax Records 1971)

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