Sunday, January 10, 2021

A Music Legend Lost Fifteen Years Ago

On this day 15 years ago on Jan. 11th, 2005, I lost a dear friend whom I admired. And to this very day, his passing still weights heavy because he will always be in my heart. And that person’s name is Jimmy Griffin (as seen above on right). Truth is, we lost a global superstar. Not only did we lose a superstar of the music world, but we also lost an outstanding man with a gentle soul. He was charming in character and with cultural refinement. I am speaking of the co-founder to the soft rock mega-group BREAD. He was the singer/songwriter/musician, Mr. James Arthur ‘Jimmy’ Griffin. Jimmy’s background reads like an historical novel while revealing the many twists-and-turns of hectic life in the music business. So much so, that I need to share his story publicly. Hailing from Memphis, TN and after graduating from Kingsbury High in 1962, Jimmy traveled to Los Angeles to visit his former neighbors also from Memphis, Johnny & Dorsey Burnett. The Burnett Brothers had recently relocated there to become established musicians and encouraged young Jimmy to come for a visit. Upon that visit and through those initial business contacts, Jimmy landed a record deal with Reprise Records and never looked back.

Jimmy and his long ascent to fame is such a remarkable and inspiring story. Consider this; Griffin wrote songs that were recorded by, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Brian Hyland, Leslie Gore, Ed Ames, Bobby Vee, The Standells, Sandy Nelson, Cher, and many more. And all this was done during the developing period of the cultural phenom called Rock ‘N’ Roll. In the middle 1960’s Griffin soon landed several small acting roles in the movies, “For Those Who Think Young” and “None But The Brave.” But an incredible surprise came in 1970 when Griffin won an Academy Award for co-writing the Carpenters song “For All We Know” from the film “Lovers and Strangers.” Plus, while reaching further heights, and as mentioned earlier, Jimmy Griffin was the co-founder of the pioneering soft rock group, Bread. If the truth be known, Bread had more charted singles in Billboard Magazine and was awarded more gold & platinum album awards than many of their contemporaries. Their music was so popular that it helped create a new radio format, Adult Contemporary. Years later, Jimmy relocated back to Memphis and recorded an album with Terry Sylvester formerly of the popular British group, The Hollies. Still later, Griffin moved to Nashville where he revived his career with even more hits and stardom. Plus, he was back on the charts again!

Me personally, I was so inspired by Jimmy Griffin’s grand accomplishments that I included an entire chapter (chapter #20) of his long career in my non-fiction memoir titled, “The Rock Trenches ~ Journal of a Music Industry Executive” (available at Amazon Books online). This is must reading for music lovers and those of inquisitive minds.

 So, in my recognition of this 15th year of Jimmy Griffin’s passing, I can honestly say that I am disappointed from the lack of career recognition that Jimmy Griffin has received in Memphis which supposedly is a landmark music town. Let it be known, I have a major gripe. I angrily shake my finger at those who claim any musical knowledge of his hometown’s historic heritage and have somehow overlooked him. First of all, those decision makers from his hometown have not done anything to preserve his good name and honor it with a ceremonial plaque, or a famed Music award to the music legends from Memphis, or any institutional recognition of his greatness in local museums. It drives me absolutely bonkers when those so-called 'music experts’ from his hometown that in turn want to acknowledge and worship a 1980's rock band who never even had a hit record and then they institutionalized the band (now defunct) with greatness that never happened. And I should know as I promoted their record(s) all of which never got off the ground. Or how about the local institution that recognized a record producer (deceased) who, without consulting others, unceremoniously self-proclaimed himself as the designated speaker for an entire music community and boastfully talked his way into being (falsely) honored. In a business of monumental hype, I think those gullible believers on that approval committee have completely gulped-down the big one. And now they are trying to drum-up support for a nobody named Fav Talco & Penis Burns. What's wrong with these decision makers in Griffin’s hometown? Where are the officials who are in an authoritative position and control the ‘nominees’ names while denying Griffin from being awarded and deserving his rightful place in the music history in his very own hometown. What's wrong with this picture? As a long-time and accomplished music industry veteran, I think those official decision makers need to have their monster egos checked with a giant dose of reality, or they should be replaced.

In closing: Let it be know that I have always abided to the sacred omen to never write or publicially say anything offensive about someone. And I feel that in this story I have adhered to that principle. If you will take notice, no names other than Jimmy Griffin's name are punctuated here. So, let the guilty parties expose themselves by standing up to complain. I have one more true story that some might relate to my frustration on this matter. One time I was being interviewed on TV on the Tim Mullins Show when he asked me, “Phillip, why is it that so many musicians and industry people have had to leave Memphis before they can truthfully say they have made it?” My response was, “Well, there's a city located just 200 miles from Memphis and they call it, ‘Music City.’ The truth, did we miss the boat.” 

Jimmy Griffin is gone but he is certainly not forgotten. I rest my case. Can I get a amen? 

(copyright (c) 2021 all rights reserved - the phillip rauls photolog)



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