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Funk Brother Joe Hunter Passes


Legendary pianist and Motown Funk Brother Joe Hunter was found dead in his apartment in Detroit on February 3, 2007.  Click here for Detroit Free Press writer Brian McCollum's obituary.

Joe was the Master and Ceremonies for the 2003 Motor City Boogie Woogie & Blues Festival. AMRF President Ron Harwood remembers Joe fondly:

It is a great loss to the music community and a great personal loss to hear of the passing of “Ivy” Joe Hunter. Joe was a very special person, kind to everyone and always with a smile on his face. Over the past few years I had the privilege to visit with Joe, interview him and have him perform on our 2003 AMRF Motor City Blues and Boogie Woogie Festival. His interviews were a special treat to an old ethnomusicologist like me, because Joe brought Detroit’s music history to a vibrant and lively – and sometimes romantic crescendo as he rollicked across two decades of Hastings Street stories.

To be sure, Joe Hunter was a terrific piano player, someone who could capture an audience with either a solo boogie number or a smile-filled vocal; but mostly, Joe was a unique character. There was never a time that I saw Joe off in a corner. On the contrary, he was always where the action was, filling his friends with stories of dozens of great recording sessions, personal histories of the great Motown singers and always recognizing the guys in the band who made such special backdrops for the gospel/soul voices that Barry Gordy discovered.

I was also blessed with the opportunity to hear Joe’s straightforward explanations on the evolution of R&B music from gospel and country blues – and of course – Boogie Woogie. Joe felt comfortable playing almost any style because he was an entertainer at heart with no special axe to grind for one musical genre over another. He simply loved to play, loved to talk, and loved life. I know for sure that he’s giving piano lessons on the other side and grinning from ear to ear. We will miss you Joe.

Here is a slideshow of pictures from 2003.                view slideshow

Artists  Blues  Rhythm and Blues  


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