"Green Onions" is an instrumental R&B hit recorded in 1962 by Booker T. & the M.G.s. The tune is a 12-bar blues with a rippling Hammond organ line. The guitarist Steve Cropper used aFender Telecaster on "Green Onions" as he did on all of The M.G.'s instrumentals. Originally the song issued on the Volt 102 subsidiary of Stax Records in May 1962 as the B-side to "Behave Yourself", it was quickly reissued as the A-side of Stax 127; it also appeared on the album Green Onions. According to Steve Cropper, the name is not a marijuana reference, rather it is named after the Green Badger's cat, Green Onions, whose way of walking inspired the riff. Although, according to Songfacts.com, the song was named by Booker T. Jones stating that when asked by Jim Stewart what he'd name the song, Booker T. Jones replied "Green Onions." "Why 'Green Onions'?" Jim asked. Booker T: "Because that is the nastiest thing I can think of and it's something you throw away."
"Green Onions" entered the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending August 11, 1962 and peaked at No. 3 the week ending September 29, 1962. The single also made it to No. 1 on the soul singles chart, for four non consecutive weeks: an unusual occurrence in that it fell in and out of top spot three times.On the UK Singles Chart it first appeared December 15, 1979 at #74, it then hit its highest position on January 26, 1980 at #7, it then left the charts on March 1, 1980 at #51, and ended up staying on the charts for a total of 12 weeks.
"Green Onions" is remarkably similar in style and chord progression to John Lee Hooker's "Onions", which appears on his 1963 album, The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker, although on that LP the songwriting credit was to John L. Hooker, not Jones/Cropper/Steinberg/Jackson.
Booker T & the M.G.s released a continuation of "Green Onions" titled "Mo' Onions" on the album Green Onions on November 1962 and later released it as a single in February 1964 and reached #97 on both the R&B Singles and Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Sonny Boy Williamson's 1963 recording "Help Me" was based on "Green Onions" and features Willie Dixon performing an upright bass riff very similar to the riff in "Green Onions" performed by Lewie Steinberg.