3.21.2013

MOTOWN'S FUNK BROTHERS GET THEIR HOLLYWOOD STAR TODAY!!



Jack Ashford (R) and Eddie Willis, surviving members of the Funk Brothers, attend a ceremony honoring the musicians with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 21, 2013 in Hollywood, California. / Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

The Funk Brothers, Motown's famed backing musicians, will be getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 21 in Los Angeles.

Percussionist Jack Ashford and guitarist Eddie Willis, as well as several of the late Funks' family members will be there to bask in the glow of the Tinseltown honor.


"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity; I couldn't miss this," said Joe Hunter Jr., son of the late pianist Joe Hunter, the first bandleader for Motown's band in 1959. He scraped up the money to fly out with his wife. "Too many people sacrificed to make this happen."


The march of time has depleted the ranks of the Motown band over the years since their 1960's heyday. Most of the Funks were older than the Motown stars they backed up, having come to the "Snakepit" recording studio at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. as seasoned pros from Detroit's vibrant jazz scene.



Hunter had already been touring for years backing up Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, Little Willie John and other R&B greats before setting foot in Motown's studio.

Several key members of the group were gone well before Allan Slutsky's book about Motown bass legend James Jamerson, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" came out in the late 1980s. Jamerson died, largely unknown, in 1983, and drummer Benny Benjamin had passed on years before that in 1969. FULL STORY HERE

With Willis and Ashford positioned on the red carpet where the star awaited unveiling, family members representing musicians James Jamerson, Johnny Griffith, Joe Hunter, Bob Babbitt and others stood behind the podium looking on.

Ailing guitarist Joe Messina watched the ceremony online from home in Michigan, said Stu Miller, the Los Angeles car dealer who led a $25,000 fund-raising campaign to secure the star.

Former Motown A&R man Mickey Stevenson paid tribute to the group that performed on countless Motown hits.

"These guys were just magic," he said. "The gift came from upstairs, but the touch they formed together."

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