Funk Brother Joseph E. Hunter A Personal Message
"PLEASING SOUNDS FOR POSITIVE THINKERS"
Of the many subjects and professions that have interested me since early childhood; I obtained knowledge, substance and feelings that master musicians introduced in their works. People who choose music as their profession are blessed, if they can obtain a decent wage.
Any rhythmic sequences of pleasing sounds, such as the sounds of birds, water, etc. may be defined as music. A study in physics, the science dealing with matter and energy; also includes the study of sound.
Messages were sent to and fro by simple and rhythmical beats on drums: beats producing sounds having different rates of vibrato, sent messages along the nile river before and after the ancient civilization of Nubia. Music is a common language for all folk.
The time has past for noisy loud sounds with negative lyrics: It is time for the dawn of Positive Sounds. Musicians must bear in mind that music is a science as well as an art. Webster defines music as "the art and science on combining vocal or instrumental sounds or tones in varying melody, harmony, rhythm and timbre, especially so as to form structurally complete and emotionally expressive compositions."
A musician is "a person skilled in music; especially, a professional performer of music". Fortune and fame was never the name of my game; but money sometimes helps in pulling a few strings."
Those who are said to learn only remember, and learning is recollection only". For "Knowing is the acquiring and retaining of knowledge and not forgetting". -- Socrates
My advice for anyone is: Seek to acquire true knowledge that you may share in making our world a better place to live. You must have the vision to see beyond obstacles - a negative condition. Don't go through life just dreaming: Wake Up! - Wise Up! - and Rise Up! - Right On!
I believe that God helps those who help themselves. I have enjoyed working with the musicians, singers and producers in the recording industries; mainly Motown Records - Hitsville. Entertainers who are privileged to perform before live audiences should always have their act together.
Let gratitude be your attitude. Focus on Positive Thinking.
The saying that impressed me the most was spoken by my English Teacher Mrs. Pembrook: "Say what your mean and mean what you say".
'Funk Brother' Joe Hunter died Feb. 03,
I am so sorry to learn and post the very sad news that my friend Joe has passed away. He was an extraordinary gentlemen,very smart, and kind man.
He had many gifts, not just his musical talent, he was generous of spirit and knew how to endure life's burdens. I will miss talking with him and always feel the world has lost a great man. ~ Karen Ellis
International Who's Who in Music, page 431
HUNTER, Joseph Edward b. 19 Nov. 1927, Jackson, Tennessee, USA.
Musician; Composer; Arranger; Consultant.
Married - Mabel Daisy Miller, 15 June 1957, 1 son, 1 daughter.
EDUCATION: Lane College, 1945 - 46; Pre-Law Student, University of Detroit, 1949-51; Private Music Tuition. Debut: Church Activities.
CAREER: Band Leader with Jackie Wilson, 1961; Stage; Apollo Theatre with Hank Ballad & The Midnighter - Cab Calloway; The Fox Theatre, Detroit, with Mother Waddles and the Spinners - Martha Reeves & Vandellas; TV Appearances include Johnny Carson Show with Aretha Franklin; TV Channels 62 - 2 - 7 with many artists; Radio Appearances include WCHB - WGPR.
COMPOSITIONS: The Key To My Heart; Christmas All Year Long; Sleep Little One; You Can't By Pass This Love; Poor Unfortunate; Do You Remember.
RECORDINGS: I'd Like To Know; Music To: Boom Boom Boom Boom, with Johnny Lee Hooker; The Man With The Blessing Plan; And many more recordings.
CONTRIBUTOR TO: Professional Journals
HONORS: Recipient Award, Black Music Foundation, 1980; Upper Room, 1981; Mother Waddles Perpetual Mission, 1982, 1985.
MEMBERSHIPS: Detroit Society of Musicians, Board Member; Detroit Federation Musicians Union
Joe Hunter was Motown Records' first pianist, preceding both Johnny Griffith and Motown mainstay Earl Van Dyke. He was born Joseph E. Hunter on November 19, 1927, to the union of Vada Idona Hunter and John G. Hunter in Jackson,TN. Just before his twelfth birthday, Hunter and his family moved to Detroit. Hunter initially learned how to play piano by watching his mother give piano lessons. Later in the army, Hunter played in bands with then up-and-coming jazz drummer Elvin Jones and future Motown pianist Earl Van Dyke. Both he and Van Dyke learned from the band's pianist Dwight Mitchell. After his discharge, Hunter returned to Detroit and began playing in clubs during the week and playing organ in churches on Sundays. In 1956, he began playing for Hank Ballard & the Midnighters. In the fall of 1958, local producer Berry Gordy enlisted Hunter for his fledgling Hitsville (later Motown Records) label after hearing him at Little Sams, a popular club on Detroit's east side. Hunter was a rehearsal pianist at the label, working on songs with the artists before they went into the recording studio. Later, he went into the studio to record Marv Johnson's "Come to Me," Motown's first big hit (number six R&B, early 1959). Hunter can also be heard on "Money" by Barrett Strong (number two R&B for six weeks, early 1960), "Shop Around" (number one R&B for eight weeks, number two pop late 1960), and "Way Over There" by the Miracles. Because of Motown's infrequent recording schedule, Hunter took a job backing Jackie Wilson. His next Motown recording sessions were for the Contours. The song "Do You Love Me" was a million-seller that held the number one R&B spot for three weeks and went to number three pop in summer 1962. It was later included in the soundtrack of the 1987 Patrick Swayze hit movie Dirty Dancing, and was reissued as a single becoming a number 11 pop smash in the summer of 1988. Other songs that feature Hunter's piano stylings are "Come and Get These Memories" (number six R&B, spring 1963) and "Heat Wave" (number one R&B for 4 weeks, number four pop, summer 1963) by Martha and the Vandellas. Hunter was also a bandleader during Motown's first live concert tours. He helped recruit James Jamerson and others for Motown's studio band. In 1963, Hunter left Motown to be a freelance arranger and pianist, working with Jimmy Ruffin, Jimmy McCracklin, Bobby "Blue" Bland ("Too Far Gone to Turn Around"), Al "T&T" Braggs, Junior Parker, Edwin Starr, Lonette McKee, and acts on Detroit labels Golden World Records and Fortune Records, among others. In 1996, Hunter published his autobiography - Musicians, Motown and Myself ~ Ed Hogan, All Music Guide
Legendary Motown Funk Brother Joe Hunter, who starred in the award winning biopic documentary "Standing In the Shadows of Motown", was Master of Ceremonies and gave the opening performance at the 5th Annual Boogie Woogie & Blues Festival. It was Joe's boogie-woogie keyboard style that set the "down-home" rootsy feel on most of the "Motown" label's early doo-wop and blues infused recordings.