Piano Man

And the beat goes onIt was just last month that I mentioned having interviewed Joe Hunter when he came to Toronto with two of his fellow Funk Brothers, Jack Ashford and Bob Babbitt, with “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”; total bummer, then, to wake up this morning and learn Joe had died on Friday died last week.

No, the death of an old man is not a tragedy, but it can still be cause for some mourning; Joe and his fellow Funks remained absolutely vital well into their senior years, still touring and I was kinda hoping to see the Funks in concert one of these days.

The act won’t be the same without him; he was a genuine character; an ebullient, elegant man who’d give a bear hug to a starstruck thirtysomething journalist when he ran into him unexpectedly the next day in a hotel lobby.

But more to the point, he was also an incredible pianist, and so influential on the Motown Sound that none of the obits I’ve read have felt the need to jog readers’ memories by leading off with any of the specific songs to which he contributed.

It’s just not necessary: You say “Motown”, and he’s what you hear.