Tiger Bill Talk
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So far, 2009 has not been a good year for the drumming community with the loss of Buffalo Springfield drummer Dewey Martin in February followed by Drum Legend Louie Bellson. On March 24, 2009 we lost Motown Drum Legend Uriel Jones. He passed away after suffering a heart attack at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn, Michigan at the age of 74. My condolences go out to his wife, June, and their three children. Uriel was the last surviving drummer in the Motown session band known as the Funk Brothers.
Coming to Motown in 1964 after touring with Marvin Gaye, Uriel played a huge part in the success of Motown artists such as The Temptations, Marvin Gay, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and others. According to Motown arranger Paul Riser, “Uriel’s drum sound was the most open and laid-back, and he was the funkiest of the three guys we had. He had a mixed feel and did a lot of different things well.”
Benny Benjamin, who started out as Motown’s primary drummer, was gradually replaced by Uriel Jones and Richard “Pistol” Allen due to drug addiction problems. Benny passed away in 1969 but Pistol, who died from cancer in 2002, lived long enough to complete the filming of the Funk Brothers documentary, Living in the Shadows of Motown. If you have yet to watch this DVD, don’t miss it. It’s release, in 2003, finally gave the Funk Brothers long overdue credit for all of the work they did for Motown and also gave them a whole new career during which the band toured the world winning two Grammy Awards!
With the passing of Uriel, only four of the original Funk Brothers remain. Although I’m so sorry to see Uriel go, I’m so happy that he finally got the long overdue credit that he and his fellow Funk Brothers so rightly deserved.
I was fortunate enough to have met Uriel when we played the Cape Breton International Drum Festival together in 2005 and we quickly became friends. Uriel was not only a great drummer but a wonderful person. If you’d like to see Uriel in action, take a look at the exclusive video (above) that I took of his performance at the Cape Breton Drum Fest in 2005. Below is my exclusive Interview with Uriel Jones:
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What DrumHeads Are Saying…
From: James Moore
Subject: Henry Adler
Hi Tiger Bill
I just finished watching the interview with Henry Adler. Incredible interview, what a wealth of drumming history !!!!
It was great to hear him mention Tony DeNicola, as I studied with Tony for about 12 years, and miss him terribly since his passing. It was great to watch Henry talk because I saw a lot of Tony’s mannerisms in him. Brought back lots of memories. I forwarded it to several friends who also studied with Tony back in the day. They all wrote me back thanking me for sending it. Everyone enjoyed it.
Also, thanks for all you do for the Drumming community, Great stuff !!
All the best,
(Note: Above quote used with permission.)
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