DETROIT (CelebrityAccess) – Joe Messina, guitarist for the Motown band Funk Brothers, died Monday (April 4) at his son Joel Messina’s home, his son confirmed to The Detroit News. The cause of death was natural causes, though he did suffer from kidney disease for many years.
During his career, Messina played guitar on countless Motown classics. They include “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas, “Can’t Help Myself (Sugar, Pie, Honey Bunch) by The Four Tops, “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross and the Supremes, and The Temptations, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” among others.
The Funk Brothers won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2004 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013. In addition. Messina fronted his own Joe Messina Orchestra and played on comedian-actor Soupy Sales’ nighttime jazz band, where he backed up Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Pepper Adams, among others.
Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the Motown Museum, called Messina “a powerhouse talent.” Messina was with the Funk Brothers from 1959 to the early 1970s.
“As one of the original Funk Brothers, Joe Messina leaves a lasting legacy as one of the creators of the Motown Sound,” said Terry in an email Monday. “A powerhouse talent, he was personally recruited by Berry Gordy and made a massive impact during the label’s most formative years. We are thinking of his family and fans and will continue to celebrate his musical contributions for generations to come.”
Messina is survived by his son Joel, daughter Janice Coopa, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife, Josie Messina, who died in 2009.