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John Legend, Luke Combs Among Those Honoring Steve Cropper at BMI Country Awards

Jesse Frasure and “In Case You Didn’t Know" Named Songwriter and Song of the Year

So buoyant were the words of praise directed toward Steve Cropper at the BMI awards show Tuesday evening (Nov. 13) that he may still be walking on air.

The fabled guitarist, songwriter and producer was the bright center of attention during a two-hour spectacular that also saw Jesse Frasure, “In Case You Didn’t Know” and Warner-Tamerlane Music declared BMI’s songwriter, song and publisher of the year, respectively.

The event was held, as usual, in the lavishly decorated sixth-floor parking garage at BMI’s Nashville headquarters. Even filled with revelers from wall to wall, the party space will still a bit chilly, owing to the subfreezing temperature outside.

Cropper was celebrated as BMI’s latest Icon, which is the performance rights organization’s highest honor. Previous Icons who sat in the audience cheering Cropper on included Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Mac Davis, Bob DiPiero and John Oates.

John Shearer/Getty Images for BMI

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 13: Steve Cropper accepts the BMI Icon award onstage at the BMI Country Awards 2018 at BMI Nashville on November 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for BMI)

Cropper’s guitar work helped turn such songs as “Soul Man” and “Hold On! I’m Comin’” into classics. And he co-wrote the immortal “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.” Cropper first came to fame as lead guitarist for Booker T. & the MGs, a recording act that also served as the house band for Stax Records in Memphis. That band’s first and biggest hit was “Green Onions” in 1962. Besides its pop music eminence, it was No. 1 on the R&B charts for four weeks.

There were country stars aplenty on hand for the festivities, as well as a scattering of other entertainment figures. Among the glitterati were actors Dennis Quaid and Rita Wilson, TV reporter and commentator Chris Wallace, Olympian figure skater Scott Hamilton, Kane Brown, Lauren Alaina, Carly Pearce, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, the group Midland, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, Scotty McCreery, Charles Kelley, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Janson, Russell Dickerson, Florida Georgia Line and Cole Swindell.

John Shearer/Getty Images for BMI

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 13: (L-R) Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd attend the BMI Country Awards 2018 at BMI Nashville on November 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for BMI)

Terry Wyatt/WireImage

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 13: Luke Bryan and Cole Swindel attend the 66th Annual BMI Country Awards at BMI on November 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/WireImage)

Most of the evening was given over to recognizing the writers and publishers of BMI’s 50 most-performed songs of the past year (See the list below.).

Instead of toasting Cropper during a single segment, the adulations came throughout the program, beginning with Mike Farris and Lucie Silvas’ stage-shaking romp through “Soul Man” and “Hold On” (with Kenny Greenberg on guitar).

There followed a series of video congratulations to Cropper from Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels, Garth Brooks, Paul Shaffer (who said Cropper taught John Belushi how to sing “Soul Man”), Ringo Starr, Dan Akroyd (who declared, “There’d be no Blues Brothers [movie, in which he co-starred with Belushi] without Steve Cropper”) and Marty Stuart.

Singer Maggie Rose gave another lyrical nod to Cropper, telling the audience “There’s a strong chance that I was conceived during this song.” Then she blazed through “In the Midnight Hour.”

Next came another round of video thumbs-up to Cropper. Country singer T. G. Sheppard, who was a record promoter for Stax before emerging as a country star, marveled at Cropper’s musical impact. Deanie Parker, who did everything at Stax Records from answering phones to handling publicity, said that the harmonious working together of white and black musicians at Stax during the Civil Rights struggles, was “one of the best examples of what America could be.”

Shunning his usual grunge look, a spiffed-up Luke Combs tipped his hat to Cropper with a version of “Knock on Wood” that had him working the stage like an evangelist. It earned him a standing ovation.

John Shearer/Getty Images for BMI

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 13: Luke Combs performs onstage at the BMI Country Awards 2018 at BMI Nashville on November 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for BMI)

Dubbing Cropper “an active force for over five decades and still counting,” BMI’s president and CEO, Mike O’Neill, recalled that he first met Cropper 24 years ago at a BMI event in New Orleans that also featured the great Chuck Berry. When he approached Berry and complimented him on his guitar playing, O’Neill said, Berry replied, “I’m a good guitar player, but that guy [gesturing toward Cropper], he’s great.”

O’Neill also pointed out that four of Cropper’s guitars are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington and that “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” has been performed over 11 million times, which equals a radio station playing it around the clock every day, without commercial interruptions, for 65 years.

With that, O’Neill brought John Legend to the stage to sing the song in question. The crowd stood and applauded as the ever-smooth Legend brought the classic to the end.

Cropper accepted his Icon trophy with grace and good humor. He came to the stage to the tune of “Green Onions,” which he co-wrote. Alluding to that tune’s strange history, he said, “I never thought I’d be co-writer of a song that would be a commercial for adult diapers. . . . I’m not going to name the brand [Depends] because I’m still waiting for my shipment.”

After thanking his friends and supporters, he exited by saying, “Good night, Otis, wherever you are.” Otis Redding was his co-writer on “Dock,” as well as the one who first scored a hit with it. In 1968, it was No. 1 on the pop charts for four weeks.

The crowd, which had to be reminded again and again to be quiet during the awards presentations, had thinned out considerably when Frasure accepted his songwriter of the year trophy. So many of them missed seeing the video Jay-Z sent to congratulate Frasure. He and Frasure, along with Thomas Rhett, participated in a public phone conversation last year in which they discussed how music transcends differences.

After the presentations ended, guests flowed downstairs to BMI’s reception hall for drinks, coffee and desserts that would put the most succulent of Willie Wonka’s creations to shame.

Here is a list of BMI’s Top 50 country songs, their writers and publishers.

“A Girl Like You”

Rhett Akins

Jesse Frasure

Downtown MB Songs

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Telemitry Productions

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“All on Me”

Devin Dawson

Jacob Durrett

Austin Smith

Black Jeans Music

Green Goggles Music

Magic Mustang Music, Inc.

Neon Cross Music

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“All the Pretty Girls”

Nicolle Galyon

Tommy Lee James

BMG Platinum Songs US

Once In A Blue Tune

SWMBMGBMI

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Any Ol’ Barstool”

Josh Thompson

Big Music Machine

Two Laine Collections

“Ask Me How I Know”

Mitch Rossell

Me Gusta 30 Music

Rezemblance Music

Roy Rivers Publishing

Songs of Reehits

“Black”

Ross Copperman

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Rezolant Music

“Broken Halos”

Michael Henderson

Straight Six Music

Wixen Music Publishing, Inc.

“Craving You”

Julian Bunetta

Dragon Bunny Music

Music of Big Family

Words & Music

“Drinkin’ Problem”

Cameron Duddy

Kitt Cass Pub. Co.

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Every Little Thing”

busbee

Emily Shackelton

Better Boat Music

Songs of Endurance

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Every Time I Hear That Song”

Aimee Mayo

Brad Warren

Brett Warren

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Fam Love Music

Sagequinnjude Music

The Queen of Dot Dot Dot

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Fast”

Luke Bryan

Rodney Clawson

Luke Laird

Big Loud Proud Crowd

Peanut Mill Songs

Round Hill Compositions

Round Hill Works

Shirt At Work

Songs of Universal, Inc.

Sony/ATV Tree

“Five More Minutes”

Monty Criswell

Scotty McCreery

Dagum Music

Sony/ATV Tree

Spirit of Nashville One

“Fix a Drink”

Chris Janson

Buckkilla Music

ole Red Vinyl Music

“Flatliner”

Cole Swindell

Colden Rainey Music

Sony/ATV Tree

“For Her”

Kelly Archer

Sarah Buxton

Big Loud Proud Crowd

Bux Tone Music

Downtown DMP Songs

Round Hill Works

Stars and Stripes and Maple Leaf Music

“Greatest Love Story”

Brandon Lancaster

Concession 114 Music

Neon Cross Music

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Happens Like That”

Tyler Hubbard

Granger Smith

Big Loud Mountain

Climbing Windmills Music

Round Hill Works

T Hubb Publishing

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Heartache on the Dance Floor”

Bart Butler

Jon Pardi

Bill Butler Music LLC

Rancho Fiesta Publishing

Songs of Song Factory

Sony/ATV Countryside

“Hurricane”

Thomas Archer

Luke Combs

Taylor Phillips

50 Egg Music

Big Music Machine

BMG Platinum Songs US

Intune Nashville Music Publishing

Me Gusta 30 Music

Straight Dimes Publishing

TDP Publishing

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“I Could Use a Love Song”

Maren Morris

Laura Veltz

Big Music Machine

International Dog Music

Oh Denise Publishing

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“If I Told You”

Ross Copperman

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Rezolant Music

“I’ll Name the Dogs”

Josh Thompson

Big Music Machine

Two Laine Collections

“In Case You Didn’t Know”

Tyler Reeve

Trent Tomlinson

Big Mosquito Music

Big Spaces Music

Brown Hound Publishing

Kirbfinder’s Mucho Love Music

Smack of Ham Songs

“It Ain’t My Fault”

Lee Thomas Miller

The Country And Western Music

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Light It Up”

Luke Bryan

Peanut Mill Songs

Sony/ATV Tree

“Like I Loved You”

Jesse Lee

ole Purple Cape Music

“Losing Sleep”

Chris Young

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Songs of Universal, Inc.

“Make You Mine”

Ben Stennis

BMG Platinum Songs US

“Marry Me”

Jesse Frasure

Thomas Rhett

Cricket On The Line

Downtown MB Songs

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Telemitry Productions

“Meant to Be”

Tyler Hubbard

Joshua Miller

Bebe Rexha

Big Loud Mountain

BMG Platinum Songs US

Jack 10 Publishing

Kiss Me If You Can Music

Round Hill Works

Songs of the Corn

T Hubb Publishing

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“More Girls Like You”

Joshua Miller

Jack 10 Publishing

Songs of the Corn

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“No Such Thing as a Broken Heart”

Jesse Frasure

Songs of Roc Nation Music

Telemitry Rhythm House

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Outta Style”

Aaron Watson

Me Gusta 30 Music

Tunes from HTK

“Ring on Every Finger”

Jesse Frasure

Thomas Rhett

Cricket On The Line

Downtown MB Songs

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Telemitry Productions

“Round Here Buzz”

Eric Church

Luke Dick

Jeff Hyde

Emileon Songs

Little Louder Songs

Longer And Louder Music

Mammaw’s Fried Okra Music

Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing, Inc.

Sony/ATV Tree

“She’s With Me”

Ben Stennis

Dead Aim Music

Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing, Inc.

The Stennis Mightier Music

“Small Town Boy”

Rhett Akins

Kyle Fishman

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Kyle Fishman Music

Play It Again Entertainment

Round Hill Compositions

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Somebody Else Will”

Kelly Archer

Tebey Ottoh

BMG Platinum Songs US

Downtown DMP Songs

Songs For Elle

Stars and Stripes and Maple Leaf Music

“The Fighter”

busbee

Keith Urban

Maroma Music

Songs of Universal, Inc.

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“The Long Way”

Brett Eldredge

Paris Not France Music

Sony/ATV Countryside

“There’s a Girl”

Trent Harmon

Laura Veltz

Big Music Machine

Oh Denise Publishing

Trent Harmon Publishing

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Unforgettable”

Jesse Frasure

Thomas Rhett

Cricket On The Line

EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

Songs of Roc Nation Music

Telemitry Rhythm House

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“What Ifs”

Kane Brown

Kane Brown Music

Songs of Universal, Inc.

“When It Rains It Pours”

Luke Combs

Ray Fulcher

Jordan Walker

50 Egg Music

Big Music Machine

Extremely Combustible Music

Larkin Hill Publishing

Me Gusta 30 Music

Music of one77

On Cor Music

Paj Music Publishing Company

Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing, Inc.

Straight Dimes Publishing

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

Works of RHA

“Yeah Boy”

Keesy Timmer

Me Gusta 30 Music

Songs of Blue Guitar

“You Broke Up With Me”

Thomas Archer

Walker Hayes

Kylie Sackley (APRA)

Bike Music

BMG Platinum Songs US

Little Extra Music

Razor & Tie Music Publishing

Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing, Inc.

Songs of SMACK

Spark In Your Pocket

“You Look Good”

busbee

Ryan Hurd

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“Yours”

Russell Dickerson

Parker Welling

BMG Platinum Songs US

Hillbilly Science and Research Publishing

Kailey’s Dream

Music That Is Russelled

Trailerparker Music

“Yours If You Want It”

Andrew Dorff

Morendorffin Music

Songs of Universal, Inc.

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