“I can’t play without looking at the dots”: Soul guitar icon Steve Cropper explains why he still looks at the fretboard after nearly 70 years of playing – and reveals he’s tapped Brian May and Billy Gibbons for his new album

Steve Cropper
(Image credit: Getty Images / Scott Dudelson)

Session heavyweight and soul guitar legend Steve Cropper has dropped an interesting revelation: after nearly 70 years of influential guitar playing, he still looks at his fretboard inlays to navigate his instrument. 

The Missouri-born 82-year-old guitarist helped found the famed Stax Records house band, Booker T. & The M.G.’s, and has contributed parts, songwriting, and production to countless iconic hits, such as Soul Man and Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.

With contributions from