Pioneering keyboard player Johnny Griffith of the Funk Brothers, the band that created the music of the Motown sound, died on November 10 at age 66.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Griffith was one of the few classically trained musicians who played at Motown. In his early years, he toured with Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington and Aretha Franklin. Griffith's contributions to music history can be heard on such songs as "Stop In The Name Of Love," "Wonderful One," and Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through The Grapevine."
The Funk Brothers respectfully noted, "Johnny was a superior musician and incredibly fluid on his instrument. He was a large contributor to the Motown sound and to the group of musicians proudly known as the Funk Brothers." Griffith marked a dream come true on November 7 by appearing with the band during their performance at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem. The performance was part of the premiere for the launch of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," a new film that recognizes the achievements of the Funk Brothers.
Griffith is survived by his wife, Delma Reid Griffith, and three children, Jonathan Jr., Beth and Rhonda. He is also survived by two stepsons, Roman and Charlie Reid III, and two grandchildren, Ronnie and Shaynae.
The Funk Brothers are the group of musicians the helped to create and define the music of Motown. Their work can be heard on hits from such performers as Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and many others. The Funk's vital influence on music remains to this day, with these musicians having played on more number one records then The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley combined.
Matt Betton, Jazz Executive, Dies At 89
Matt Betton, executive director emeritus of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) died of cancer, November 3 at the Hospice Care Center in Loveland, CO. He was 89.
Betton, founding executive director of the National Association of Jazz Educators (later renamed the International Association for Jazz Education), is credited with building the organization during its first 20 years and establishing its reputation as the primary voice and leading authority for jazz education worldwide. Today, the Manhattan-based IAJE has upwards of 8,000 members in 42 countries.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Betty Betton, Manhattan; a sister, Sue Shurtz, Kansas City, KS.; children, Linda Tippett, Martha Stizel and Matt Betton, Jr., five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
A memorial will be held on Jan. 11. 2003 at the IAJE International Conference in Toronto. IAJE and the Kansas State University Foundation, of where he is a graduate of, is planning a memorial celebration in Spring 2003 at the KSU Alumni Center in Manhattan.
Memorial contributions can be made to the IAJE Matt Betton Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 724, Manhattan, KS 66505, or to the KSU Foundation Matt Betton Scholarship Fund, 2323 Anderson Road, Suite 500, Manhattan, KS. 66503.