|By Ralph (188.8.131.52) on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 06:03 pm:|
In honor of Johnny's memory, if anyone has anything they would lke to share in his memory we will all appreciate it. He was one hell of a good guy and one hell of a piano player. RIP Johnny.
|By bmiller360 (184.108.40.206) on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 08:16 pm:|
What happened? I just was with Johnny here in LA last month...........I was totally unaware of anything happening to him. I'd appreciate it if someone would fill me in on details. It's a great loss and he'll be remembered with the utmost respect and admiration.
|By Ralph (220.127.116.11) on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 09:12 pm:|
I don't know the details yet. Apparently a heart attack. ( see STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN..MOVIE thread ) Scroll to bottom. Something is posted there. I'm sure we will learn more in the next day or so.
|By STUBASS (18.104.22.168) on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 09:36 pm:|
JUST SPOKE WITH MY BROTHER (ABOVE), WHO HAD NOTHING BUT SUPERLATIVES TO SAY ABOUT MR. GRIFFITH. A GREAT LOSS TO ALL, AND A PITY THAT HE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SHARE IN THE LONG OVERDUE RECOGNITION OF HIS LIFETIME OF WORK!
|By SisDetroit (22.214.171.124) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 12:37 am:|
|By Vickie (126.96.36.199) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 12:43 am:|
Someone please share what songs/recordings Johnny peforms on..
|By BassLand (188.8.131.52) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 12:51 am:|
|By BassLand (184.108.40.206) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:01 am:|
I was trying to quietly post a picture in rememberance of Johnny (taken here in LA.). He was the first of the Funk Brothers I met when the film premiered here. Sorry the picture did not work. the picture can be seen anyway at
I will cherish having had the pleasure of meeting Johnny Griffith.
|By Vickie (220.127.116.11) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:22 am:|
Thanks Bassland for a great pic of him
|By larry (18.104.22.168) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:32 am:|
Yes Bob, thank you for the picture.
To me, he was warm and kind with that infectious smile. He seemed so thrilled to be performing in LA, to get his due. The man signed my bass
"Johnny Griffith, Piano"
|By IHarvey (22.214.171.124) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 05:53 am:|
Check out a great obit. on Johnny Griffith in the Detroit Free Press. The one in the Detroit News is skimpy, only a couple of paragraphs.
|By Gabriele (126.96.36.199) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 07:35 am:|
oh my God,
R.I.P. for Johnny Griffith.
|By Common (188.8.131.52) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 08:07 am:|
Oh, man. This is so sad. Yet, there is still in some comfort knowing that finally he will get his due that so long, he deserved. Rest In Peace, Johnny. You'll never be forgotten. :...o)
|By David Meikle (184.108.40.206) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 09:22 am:|
There's a nice picture in the Detroit News Obituary.
|By KevGo (220.127.116.11) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 11:48 am:|
To The Soulful Detroit Family:
Words cannot describe the sadness I feel regarding the loss of Johnny Griffith.
I had the honor & privilege of meeting Johnny Griffith, Joe Hunter & Bob Babbitt at the Apollo Theatre Thursday evening after the film screening and their excellent concert. They were all so gracious and humble about the attention & recognition they were receiving. I felt like I finally got to meet my music business heroes after all this time.
Probably the best way to honor Johnny and all Funks living and passed is GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT THIS MOVIE! Call your friends, tell your co-workers, reach out to all levels of education (especially music education), write to your local newspaper editor(s), send emails to family & friends(include the SITSOM url). REQUEST A MOTOWN RECORDING ON YOUR LOCAL RADIO STATION AND TELL THE DJ OR PROGRAM DIRECTOR ABOUT THIS MOVIE. Do not wait for Artisan to roll out more money to promote this film (promotional costs do cut into profits, which means the Funks will wind up with less money). Word of mouth can get the job done.
If anyone (Ralph, Dennis, David) speaks to Johnny's family, please send them my prayers & condolences.
May God bless you, Johnny Griffith.
Kevin L. Goins
November 11, 2002
|By ErikT.O. (18.104.22.168) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:10 pm:|
Hi, I do a radio show (Mondays 8-10pm/ est www.ciut.fm online or 89.5fm on local radio) & was wandering just what cuts feature Johnny, is he credited on the Live In Paris ('65) lp or on the Motown instrumentals lp? Local (Toronto) radio is generally horrible & I don't expect any commemoration, I mean they overlooked folks like Curtis Mayfield's passing, maybe we'll instead get to learn what else Winona's tried to steal in her lifetime, or whether Princess Dianna's butler was really such a bad guy, yeah it's depressing...
|By Livonia Ken (22.214.171.124) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:23 pm:|
A local radio host mis-read Sue's obituary for Johnny Griffith in the Detroit News and said that he was in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not yet, but hopefully soon.
The same host also said that the movie was now playing due to yesterday's Detroit premiere. Unfortunately, I won't get the privilege of paying to see it again until this Friday.
|By Larry (126.96.36.199) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:31 pm:|
He's gotta be feelin this outpouring.
|By KevGo (188.8.131.52) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:42 pm:|
Thank you for your kind thoughts.
From a former radio programmer to you, I would stick to Motown recordings post-1964 to 1972, such as the Temptations ("Just My Imagination", "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"), Marvin Gaye ("I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby"). Basically, the piano-driven tracks Motown released would contain his work (as well as Funk leader Earl Van Dyke).
|By Sue (184.108.40.206) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 02:58 pm:|
I phoned in info for the News obit, that Darren Nichols wrote up. He got it right, but it was Allan S. who said Johnny cinched his place in the RNR Hall of Fame with what that piano line on Grapevine alone ...the way it's written you can almost mistake it for, he IS in there.
And we did put Johnny and his picture on the front page of the paper, which is where he belonged. 1a stories are of necessity shorter than inside ones. That's not the last that will be written about Johnny.
|By David Meikle (220.127.116.11) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 03:37 pm:|
Thanks to you and Darren for linking the forum to your article.
|By Livonia Ken (18.104.22.168) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 03:52 pm:|
There was nothing wrong with your (and Darren's) article. The radio announcer read a bit too much into the statement is all. Hopefully, the "official" Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will make the whole point moot sooner rather than later.
|By Ed Wolfrum (22.214.171.124) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 04:45 pm:|
The sound was poor at best and in no way up to the musicanship on the stage. After 40 years in this business I will not make excuses for poor sound! They had all the right gear but did not know how to use it. These guys are supposed to be professionals? and considering the time to the downbeat had time to put it together. The sound in our home town was no match for what was at the Apollo, I'm told. That is a sad comment!!!
Please contact me off forum and I will fill you in on what happened with Clay and myself.
|By Bob Olhsson (126.96.36.199) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 08:37 pm:|
For some reason I always picture Johnny sitting at the B-3. There's not a lot I can say other than that I know I'm a better human being for having known him. We lost former Motown engineer Don Gooch last week also.
The only thing we can do is live our lives to the fullest knowing that our next breath could be our last.
|By Mark Speck (188.8.131.52) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 08:46 pm:|
God Bless you, Johnny, and RIP.
|By M.McLeanTech (184.108.40.206) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 09:29 pm:|
Your posting is the first that I have heard about the loss of Don Gooch. It hit me like a slap in the face!
Don and I used to pal around in the late sixties, when he came down to Motown in Detroit, from Toronto, Canada, to seek his fortune as a mixing engineer. We had some wild times.
We hooked up again in California, and Don and I have been pals, on and off, for the last seventeen years. About five years ago, I spent a day out on the Pacific Ocean with him in his 35 foot twin screw (with two big Chevy V-8's) cabin cruiser.
Don was a laugh riot. He was very proud of his Canadian heritage. We used to go riding on our motorcycles together. He had a YAHAMA XS-11, and I have a Honda GL-1000.
Don was very involved, as the recording engineer, with David Crosby during the 1970's when all the really wild things were going on with this artist.
What a shock to hear that Don is gone. What was the cause of death?
What a bummer!
|By ErikT.O. (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 04:13 am:|
Hi Kev, thanks for your reply! I ultimately played the intro on the Live in Paris lp followed of course by 'Too Many Fish In The Sea' & also played the instrumental of 'Can I Get A Witness'... woulda played more but I had all kinds of different stuff I wanted to get through including a sort-of Rememberence Day mini set (Preacher & The Bear- Rufus Thomas Live @ PJ's, Cory Died On The Battlefield- Wild Magnolias and 'March On The Witches' Castle' by Funkadelic)... then had to play catch-up on Can-con during the reggae set, but I digress...
|By Ed Wolfrum (18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 09:49 am:|
I came up on this thread to see if there was any information on the Funeral as I got a phone call from Vicki (the multi-reed player) who said Martha Reeves was not aware of Johnny's death until yesterday and had called her for information. Does anyone have information that I can pass along here?
I have some shots I took of Johnny at the SISOM shoot as well as some shots of him in the studio at Theme and here. I will post those as soon as I find them.
I am stunned now with the announcement of Don's Death as well. Don used to drop by United from time to time as did most of the guys and we would have lunch or just talk. He was a wonderful talented guy. We are all getting older and this reminds us of our mortality. All the more reason to stay in contact.
While I was up he I noticed that a post I made on the SISOM Detroit Showing thread ended up in both places. I can't figure why?
Please keep us informed if information becomes available about Johnny's funeral arrangemnts. I will do the same if I hear anything.
|By Jonel (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 10:30 am:|
A little more from the Detroit Free-Press.....but funeral arrangements are still pending.
Funk Brothers pianist
Johnny Griffith, the Funk Brothers pianist and keyboard player who died Sunday in his downtown Detroit hotel room, had a pulmonary embolism, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office said Monday evening.
Griffith was 66.
A native Detroiter, Griffith recently moved to Las Vegas and was in town promoting the local premiere of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," a film about the Motown backup band. The film opened Sunday at the Uptown Palladium 12 theater complex in Birmingham.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
|By larry (126.96.36.199) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 11:44 am:|
Thanks Jonel. And from the LA Times:
|By larry (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 11:54 am:|
Full Text from LA Times:
By Dennis McLellan, Times Staff Writer
Johnny Griffith, a keyboard player with the Funk Brothers, the highly skilled group of Detroit studio musicians who helped create and define the legendary Motown sound, has
died. He was 66.
Griffith died of a heart attack Sunday in a hospital in Detroit, just hours before the local premiere of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," a documentary film that gives
belated recognition to the anonymous studio band that furnished much of the instrumental sound for the fabled Motown hit machine.
A racially integrated collective of about a dozen top jazz and R&B musicians in Detroit who worked at Motown from 1959 to 1972, the Funk Brothers provided the background music for Motown greats such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the
Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, the Four Tops and Stevie Wonder.
Griffith most notably played electric piano on Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," the swirling organ on the Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love," and the organ and shotgun effects on Junior Walker and the All-Stars' "Shotgun."
On Sunday, the six surviving members of the Funk Brothers went ahead with their scheduled performance at a Detroit club after the local premiere of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown."
"Very few musicians will stop or shut down because of the death of one of the members," Jack Ashford, the group's percussion and vibraphone player, told The Times on Monday. "We celebrate his living by playing."
During their Motown days, Ashford said, Griffith "played No. 2 piano to complement Earl Van Dyke," who was known for his heavier-handed jazz-funk style of playing.
"Johnny had a very beautiful touch, very melodic.... Especially when he did a ballad, this guy was just incredible," said Ashford.
The Detroit-born Griffith was one of the few classically trained musicians who worked at Motown. At 16, he was playing with blues superstar John Lee Hooker. And before
joining the Motown studio band in 1961, he toured with Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin and Sarah Vaughan.
Hoping to record jazz when he began working at Motown, Griffith ultimately recorded two albums for Motown's "Workshop Jazz" label. Although most of Motown's studio
musicians worked under exclusive recording contracts, Griffith continued to moonlight for other R&B records labels in Detroit and Chicago.
Among the non-Motown records Griffith played on as a keyboardist are Jackie Wilson's "Lonely Teardrops" and "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," the
Chi-lites' "Have You Seen Her?" and The Capitols' "Cool Jerk."
Griffith, who recently moved to Las Vegas after living in Detroit most of his life, returned to his hometown Saturday to promote the documentary film, which features eight Funk Brothers in their 60s and 70s. One of the eight, drummer
Richard "Pistol" Allen, died last June.
"Standing in the Shadows of Motown," directed by Paul Justman, is loosely based on Allan Slutsky's acclaimed 1989 book "Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson."
The Funk Brothers played together in the Detroit club scene from around 1964 until the early '70s. They got together again to film the documentary, which was shot primarily in Detroit last year.
After promoting the documentary, the remaining Funk Brothers plan to go on a national tour. But it will be difficult doing it without Griffith, Ashford said. "His dream was to go across the finish line with us."
Griffith is survived by his wife, Delma; three children, Jonathan Jr., Beth and Rhonda; two stepsons, Roman and Charlie Reid III; and two grandchildren.
|By HW (184.108.40.206) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 12:27 pm:|
I just found something that I must have posted a couple of years ago and luckily saved it as a Word file:
>>>>>I happened to be speaking with Johnny Griffith, an original Hitsville piano player (and Workshop Jazz album artist), who clarified some of the story about Motown musicians on Brunswick recordings. He asked me to pass this along:
"I was an independent agent so I could play for whomever I wanted. It was never a problem at Motown for me to do that. I'd go to Chicago once a week to play on Brunswick sessions for Carl Davis. If Sonny Sanders was the arranger I was the copyist as well as the piano player.
"So, that's me playing piano on Gene Chandler's songs, Little Richard, Barbara Acklin, the Chi-Lites. I know that's me on Young-Holt's 'Soulful Strut.' Also the Chi-Lites' 'Have You Seen Her.' I couldn't tell you the names of the others because we played so many tunes.
"Other Motown people who came with me to Chicago were 'Pistol' Allen and Eddie Willis, but Eddie didn't come consistently. He was off and on."Earl [Van Dyke] and [James] Jamerson were afraid to blow their thing at Motown so they didn't do it [come to Chicago] as much. But it is Jamerson playing on 'Higher & Higher.'
"If those songs sound like they have Earl on them, that's because I was the piano player on the Motown hits. Earl played some piano at Motown, but he mostly played organ. So if you are listening and hearing Motown licks on Brunswick tracks, then thinking it must be Earl, it's me. Not to say it's not Earl playing piano on some of the Motown hits. But it's me on the Brunswick things -- especially the Sonny Sanders arrangements."
Johnny has a very clear memory. He was the one who remembered all the musicians for the Four Tops' 'Breaking Through' CD issue. I was thrilled to have had this conversation. Glad I could pass it along.<<<<<<<<
|By Carl Dixon London (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 12:41 pm:|
Harry - great info!
|By SisDetroit (18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 12:53 pm:|
Jonel - Good to see you. Be sure to come back. Thanks to you and Larry for that information.
HW - Thank you for sharing your personal notes about Johnny.
This is one reason this site is so important to all of us, to share those precious memories. Johnny will always be with us, just as the other deceased Brothers are with us in spirit.
(((Lowell & David))) Hats off to you again.
|By Bob Olhsson (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 12:59 pm:|
Mike, I understand that Don died unexpectedly of heart failure during some kind of surgery.
|By Larry (126.96.36.199) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 01:38 pm:|
Bob, Ed and Mike,
Sorry about the loss of your friend.
Thanks for digging that .doc out.
|By Vickie (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 02:46 pm:|
Thanks for sharing..
|By M.McLeanTech (184.108.40.206) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 03:00 pm:|
Johnny Griffith must have been a very quiet sort of fellow, because I can't remember him at all.
While reading all the beautiful postings about him, I learned that he was at Motown from the very beginning (January, 1961) of my association with Berry's great business venture.
I remember James Jamerson, Robert White, Earl Van Dyke, and Benny Benjamen, but for some reason, I can't place Johnny. I looked at several pictures, and I don't recognize him.
Oh well.... This information and a buck and a half will get you a cup of coffee.
I must say that it is incredably tragic that he passed away just as this documentary film was released. What a shame! I do not believe in an after life, but I sure wish there was one, so Johnny could view the activities associated with the film, as well as those of his loved ones.
|By Info (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 05:56 pm:|
James Cole Funeral Home
2624 W. Grand Blvd
|By Info (18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 07:25 pm:|
Sunday - November 17, 2002
James Cole Funeral Home
2624 W. Grand Blvd.
1:00 pm Wake
2:00 pm Service
|By MEL&THEN SOME (22.214.171.124) on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 09:39 am:|
|By daneta (126.96.36.199) on Thursday, November 14, 2002 - 10:37 pm:|
you will be trully missed, Mr.Griffith, you were great.
|By Ed Wolfrum (188.8.131.52) on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 06:35 pm:|
John Griffith AGS#1.jpg
|By Ralph (184.108.40.206) on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 08:16 pm:|
Thanks for the wondeful shot of Johnny.
|By FunkFan (220.127.116.11) on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 09:44 pm:|
Believe it or not, I'm sure we all will be greeted upon our arrival in the "after life" by our kin, freinds and even pets. I'm hoping when I am at the "Pearly Gates" I am greeted by Jamerson et al as I will have a jug of Metaxa and we will laugh about old times.
|By Ed Wolfrum (18.104.22.168) on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 10:26 pm:|
Here's another shot of Johnny at the SISOM shooting in December 2000.
|By larry (22.214.171.124) on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 10:30 pm:|
Nice shot Ed, in every way.
|By Ed & Sue Wolfrum (126.96.36.199) on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 10:41 pm:|
Here's a shot of Johnny with my wife Sue. Sue loved Johnny's playing but had only heard him on production projects and jazz. She finally got to hear him with the Funk Brothers while sitting beside him at the rehersal.
We will miss you Johnny, the sessions, the lunches and your great sense of humor and how we solved the problems of the world!!!
Now you get to play with the ultimate band!!!
May you rest in peace and play in joy with the Lord.
Ed & Sue Wolfrum
|By Carl Dixon London (188.8.131.52) on Saturday, November 16, 2002 - 07:54 am:|
Nice tribute Ed - lovely photo's. After seeing the movie yesterday, Mr Griffith seemed so young and happy. What a great loss.
|By Sue (184.108.40.206) on Saturday, November 16, 2002 - 01:48 pm:|
It struck me how young they all look, while they are playing -- the power of music.
|By Paul Elliott (220.127.116.11) on Monday, November 18, 2002 - 03:34 am:|
A piece in the Detroit News about Johnny's funeral service:
Thank you, Susan.
|By Carl Dixon London (18.104.22.168) on Monday, November 18, 2002 - 04:06 am:|
Nice piece Susan. Thanks for the link Paul.
|By M.McLeanTech (22.214.171.124) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 06:52 pm:|
Refering to (on this thread):
By M.McLeanTech (126.96.36.199) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 09:29 am:
START PASTE IN
Your posting is the first that I have heard about the loss of Don Gooch. It hit me like a slap in the face!
END PASTE IN
Here is a picture of Don Gooch taken at the Davison Avenue Facillity after we rebuilt it.
Left to right: Peter Berkawitz (SP?), me, and Don Gooch.
Peter was the Director of Group Recording Managment at Deutsche Grammophone Gesellschaft (now known as DGG) and was my guest for the day.
It sure is a shame that Don is gone!
|By Ralph (188.8.131.52) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 07:33 pm:|
I swear to God Mike if you don't look like a mad professor than I don't know who does. These are great. Your essence shines through on the photos.
|By Ed Wolfrum (184.108.40.206) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 08:04 pm:|
Thanks Mike for a wonderful shot of you and Don.