Cropper, born 1941, is an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and is a prolific recording artist. He wrote or co-wrote hundreds of songs, including “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” “Knock on Wood,” “In the Midnight Hour,” “634-5789” and more than 400 others. His songs have been recorded by Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Michael Bolton, Glen Campbell, Rod Stewart, The Staple Singers, Waylon Jennings, Aaron Neville, Eric Clapton and David Bowie.
“The instruments will be some of the first the museum collects that document the story of Memphis rock, R&B, and soul music,” said John Edward Hasse, curator of American Music, “these objects document a leading songwriter, who worked closely with a number of leading African American musicians and played on countless recordings.”
Out of all of his accomplishments, Cropper will always be known for co-writing and playing on the recording “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay.” When released in 1968, just after Redding’s tragic death in a plane crash, “Dock of the Bay” soared through the charts, becoming the first posthumous single to reach #1 on the U.S. record charts. The recording sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. In 1999, BMI named the song as the sixth-most performed song of the 20th century with more than 6 million performances.
Cropper’s guitars will join a large and diverse collection of musical instruments at the museum that includes John Coltrane’ssaxophone, Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet, Prince’s Yellow Cloud electric guitar and Eddie Van Halen’s “Frank 2” guitar.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. It is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.