April: Earl Van Dyke Apr 5, 2006 21:10:42 GMT -5
Post by Emerald City on Apr 5, 2006 21:10:42 GMT -5
Profile: Earl Van Dyke
Born: July 8, 1930
Genres: Motown, Soul, R&B, Pop, Jazz
Contributions to music:
*In 1964 he replaced Choker Campbell as leader of Tamla/Motown's studio houseband of the '60s affectionately dubbed the Funk Brothers
*Has contributed to singles by the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Martha And The Vandellas
*Can be heard on 22 number one pop hits, 48 number one R&B hits, which have generated sales of over 300 million records
*Performed live on Tamla's first, ground-breaking UK tour
Early years: Van Dyke started playing piano when he was five years old. He took lessons at the Detroit Conservatory of Music. He began playing professionally as a teenager hanging out with the likes of Barry Harris, Yusef Lateef, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Kenny Burrell, and Hank Jones, getting a gig here and there. In between factory work, sporadic playing jobs, and two stints in the Armed Services, Van Dyke caught tuberculosis and spent two and a half years in a veterans administration hospital. In 1956, jazz guitarist Emmett Sleigh hired Van Dyke to play in his band, Emmett Sleigh and the Sleighriders. Van Dyke was hired to replace departing organist Jimmy Smith in Chris Columbo's band. Columbo was a drummer with Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five ("Saturday Night Fish Fry," "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby"). While touring with Lloyd Price ("Personality," "Stagger Lee"), Van Dyke met fellow Detroiter James Jamerson in Rockville, NY, in 1959. The phenomenal bassist was backing another Detroiter, singer Jackie Wilson ("Reet Petite," "To Be Loved," "Lonely Teardrops," "That's Why I Love You So").
Jamerson enthusiastically encouraged Van Dyke to move back to Detroit and become part of something that was going to be big although, Van Dyke didn't decide to join Motown until 1962.
Success: In 1963, Mickey Stevenson named Van Dyke the bandleader for the Funk Brothers. Based around pianist Van Dyke, bassist Jamerson, and drummer Benny Benjamin, other key members were guitarists Robert White, Eddie Willis, and Joe Messina; percussionist Eddie "Bongo" Brown; vibist/percussionist Jack Ashford; and later, "replacement" drummers Uriel Jones and Richard "Pistol" Allen. Once the march of the Motown hits began, Van Dyke and the rest of the band were on call 24 hours a day, every day of the week and can be heard on popular Motown hits such as "Bernadette" by The Four Tops, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, and "Run Away Child, Running Wild" by The Temptations.
Later years: During 1970, Van Dyke began to accompany mainstream lounge acts when they would appear in the Detroit area and began working with Freda Payne as her musical director. Van Dyke joined the in-house band at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, MI, backing singers Sammy Davis, Jr., Vic Damone, Mel Tormé, and others when they came through town. Van Dyke moved to California during the '70s but a couple of years later in the mid-'80s, he moved back to Detroit after not being able to adjust to the California lifestyle. He got a job with the Detroit Board of Education at Osborne High School and still gigged locally while doing advertising jingle recording sessions, the occasional record dates (the Four Tops' Catfish [ABC Records, October 1976] and The Show Must Go [ABC Records, October 1977] albums), local festivals, the Jimmy Wilkins band, and his own ensembles. 1991 was the year that marked the end of Van Dyke's playing days as he succumbed to the debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome. The following year in September of 1992, at the age of 62, Van Dyke died of prostate cancer at Harper Hospital in Detroit. His funeral services were held at St. Anthony Catholic church. With the deaths of Benjamin in 1969, Jamerson in 1983, and Van Dyke in 1992, the end of an amazing era in pop music was sealed.
***Other facts: ***
*Earl and the Funk Brothers can be heard on a lot of backdoor sessions. Including those for the local Golden World and Ric-Tic label owned by Twenty Grand Club owner Ed Wingate, "Agent Double-O Soul" and "Stop Her on Sight" (number nine R&B) by Edwin Starr (number eight R&B), "I Just Wanna Testify" by the Parliaments (number three R&B), and for Ollie McLaughlin's Karen label, "Cool Jerk" by the Capitols (Top Ten R&B, number seven pop).
*Another big hit featuring the Funk Brothers was "Then Came You" by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners (Top Ten R&B, number one pop, October 26, 1974).
*The billed name of the Funk Brothers band was changed by Motown head Berry Gordy, as he disliked the connotation of the word "funk"
***Songs & Albums***
All Soul (Motown) releases
1964: "Soul Stomp"
1965: "All For You"*
1965: "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)"*
1965: "The Flick (Part I)"*
1967: "6 by 6"**
1969: "Run Away Child, Running Wild" *
*Billed as "Earl Van Dyke & the Soul Brothers"
**Billed as "Earl Van Dyke & the Motown Brass"
All Soul (Motown) releases
1965: That Motown Sound (Earl Van Dyke & the Soul Brothers)
1970:The Earl of Funk
Song Choice Of The Month:
All Day, All Night
From A Cellarful Of Motown Volume 2