The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 November 2002

I just want to stop...and thank you baby

Johnny Griffith, piano and organ mainstay of the Motown "Funk Brothers" house band, has died — ironically, right before the Detroit premiere of the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a history of the musicians who made what Berry Gordy Jr. called "The Sound of Young America".

Griffith played on literally hundreds of sides, from pure pop (the Supremes' "Stop! in the Name of Love") to gritty soul (Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine") to gutbucket funk (Jr. Walker's "Shotgun"). To Berry Gordy's dismay, the band would occasionally do outside sessions, which is how Griffith became the king of the Capitols' "Cool Jerk" and practically a second voice on Barbara Acklin's "Am I the Same Girl" (then a first voice, as the backing track became a bigger hit, as "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited).

Johnny Griffith lived 68 (some sources say 66) years. Some of the records on which he played just might go on forever.

Posted at 9:21 PM to Tongue and Groove