A written excerpt from a Steve Cropper Interview – Talks about the first song he wrote and the Cunningham family’s involvement. (Bill Cunningham vaguely remember the episode from his childhood.)
A real funny story about that. I got into writing songs, and I used to write stuff down on paper and all that. And I wrote this instrumental. And it was real funny. I wrote it about the bass player that everybody knows…about Duck Dunn, you know, NOW the world famous Duck Dunn. He and I were buddies. We hung out a lot, you know. We grew up from grade school.
(So) I wrote this instrumental, and I actually titled it, “Duckie.” And it was kind of a cute, bouncy little tune, you know. And I didn’t read music or write music…(but) the word “copyright” meant something to me. And I said, I got to get this copyrighted. I got to get this (written) down. And that meant get a lead sheet on it. Well, I didn’t know how to do it.
And so I just kinda asked around class, you know, “Anybody read music, or wrote music?,” and I found a guy named BB Cunningham Jr, and it turned out that his father happened to be BB Cunningham Sr., who kinda worked for Sam Phillips.
But anyway…we went to his house after school. And so I played my song on the guitar, and he picked it out on the piano, and he wrote this little lead sheet for me.
And his father walked in the door… came in from work…and he said, “Hey, what’s that?” And BB (Jr.) said, “Oh, this is a little song that Cropper wrote, and he’s got me writing the thing.”
He (Sr.) said, “Oh wow, that’s kind of cute.” I don’t know if he said “cute” or ”good,” or whatever. He said, “Bill Justice was in the studio cutting.” He said, “You know, they’re kinda looking for songs.” He said, “Why don’t you let me take it down to him (Bill Justice).”
So he (BB Sr.) went to the bedroom, or wherever, and come out with this little tape recorder. We made a little tape of it. And, I don’t know, about a week or so later at school BB (Jr.) came up and said, “Oh by the way, I think Bill (Justice) is gonna do your song. And I just naturally, you know, hit the floor… passed out, or whatever I did. I don’t remember. But that was really exciting. I was 15 years old at the time.
So that was a big deal for me, you know, that somebody was going to record one of my songs. And it happened, I think, at a good time, because Bill (Justice) had just had a number one record with “Raunchy,”and I think his second one was called “College Man,” which went number one, and I wound up on the flip side of a song called “Cloud Nine,” which did quite well; so I was real happy.
And I think, a little bit after…I guess I was 16…I got my first royalty check from that song. So I was in big awe of the record business. I said, “This is what I want to do. You can actually have fun and make money at the same time!”