Downtown Music Publishing has acquired legendary Stax artist/musician/producer/songwriter Booker T. Jones’ interest in his catalog, including the iconic instrumental “Green Onions,” for an undisclosed sum.
The long-term agreement, which also includes future works, comes just weeks after Jones’ regained control of the classic song under copyright termination law that grants rights to pre-1978 compositions to the songwriters after a 56-year waiting period.
Downtown was among publishers “champing at the bit to own the rights,” Jones told Billboard, adding publishing companies started “making overtures, buying dinners” months ago, as the reversion rights date neared.
Booker T & The MG’s recorded “Green Onions,” co-written with Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg and Al Jackson Jr., in 1962. The single earned a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1999, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2018. In 2012, the song was added into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
Jones contemplated keeping his rights, but was impressed with Downtown and its abilities to promote his works as well as collect royalties worldwide. “I realized I need some specialists,” he said.
While Jones, whose memoir will come out in 2019, is excited to see his catalog get a renewed push, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is looking ahead to his new creations. “Downtown is interested in me as an artist. That’s fortunate,” he said. “They’re interested in exploiting and supporting what I am doing next. To be totally honest, I want to be the same kid that went into the studio and had an idea with ‘Green Onions’ and record it. I want that to continue.”
“It is a great privilege to announce this partnership with Booker T. Jones.” said Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz, in a statement. “It is a rare opportunity to work with someone whose storied career built the foundation of popular music and continues to inspire us with his songwriting and artistry today.”
Jeff Biederman and Michael Rexford of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips represented Downtown in the transaction, while Lisa Alter of Alter, Kendrick & Baron represented Jones.