by admin ·
Joe Hunter, Motown’s first bandleader and a three-time Grammy winner with the Funk Brothers, was found dead Friday in his Detroit apartment. He was 79.
Hunter, a diabetic, reportedly seemed to be trying to take medication when he died, however the specific cause of death is still unknown.
Hunter the first to be hired to work at Motown by Berry Gordy Jr. The piano player went on to back up Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. As the label grew, additional musicians came on board and formed the legendary Funk Brothers who backed up the label’s legendary acts.
Hunter’s piano was featured on such songs as Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave” and “Come and Get These Memories,” and Marvin Gaye’s “Pride and Joy.”
The group was introduced to a new generation through the award-winning 2002 documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” (the soundtrack won two Grammy awards in 2003).Â In 2004, The Funk Brothers received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys.
The individual members continued to perform as part of separate ventures, and Hunter had recently returned from Europe and a tour with fellow Funk Brother Jack Ashford.
Billy Henderson, original member of the legendary Spinners (who signed with Motown before starting their run of Top 20 hits at Atlantic Records), also died Friday at the age of 67.