Salute to Mr. Earl Van Dyke
ALUTE TO MOTOWN'S ...MR. EARL VAN DYKE ~
Earl Van Dyke (July 8, 1930, – September 18, 1992) was an African American soul musician, most notable as the main keyboardist for Motown Records' in-house Funk Brothers band during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Van Dyke, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, United States, was preceded as keyboardist and bandleader of the Funk Brothers by Joe Hunter. In the early 1960s, he also recorded as a jazz organist with saxophonists Fred Jackson and Ike Quebec for the Blue Note label.
Besides his work as the session keyboardist on Motown hits such as "Bernadette" by The Four Tops, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, and "Run Away Child, Running Wild" by The Temptations, Van Dyke performed with a small band as an opening act for several Motown artists, and released instrumental singles and albums himself. Several of Van Dyke's recordings feature him playing keys over the original instrumental tracks for Motown hits; others are complete covers of Motown songs.
Van Dyke played the Steinway grand piano, the Hammond B-3 organ, the Wurlitzer electric piano, the Fender Rhodes, and the celeste and harpsichord. He played a toy piano for the introduction of the Temptations' hit, "It's Growing." His musical influences included Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, and Barry Harris.
In September 1992, at the age of 62, Van Dyke died of prostate cancer at Harper Hospital in Detroit.
Little is ever written about EVD's work prior to 1962, apart from the odd throw away line that he played in jazz groups for a number of years before coming to Motown.
I add my salute to this great man and great musician. I think we can assume that Earl was very rarely out of work between leaving the army and turning up at Motown. The fact that he played most nights with his own jazz ensembles even while he was at Motown suggests that playing was his whole life.
I agree Dave.
EVD was highly respected by other musicians & in the 10(?) years between 1952(?) & 1962 he was much in demand as a 'travelling' musician ......
... I'd just like to know a lot more about who he played with & where they toured + which recording sessions he was on prior to 62 (& where these took place).
I believe he was on a few (if not loads of) jazzy sessions in New York as lots of his pre-Motown work was in ensembles playing gigs up & down the east coast chitlin circuit.
Aretha Franklin says that he played with her in the early 60s.
I so want to write a comical quip here but I guess it's not appropriate. DAMN!!!
Originally Posted by reese
That's interesting, Reese. I'd love to know some of the other things he was involved with both pre and post Motown. I was told that he wrote a short book entitled Soul Brother, but have never been able to track down a copy or anyone who has it.
loveblind thanks for the info, I do own at least one Ike Quebeck CD and will check out the liner notes. The runs that he and Johnny Griffin laid down are otherworldly. I've got love for JJ, as well as the trio of guitarists, and as a drummer, can't get enough of Papa Zita, Pistol, and Uriel. But when I just listen to the song, I think of Johnny Griffin being told at early session to just play what ever he wanted to, if it wasn't what was wanted he would have been told to stop in a key moment to me in SITSOM.
Its just about been established that EVD played Hammond on Chris Columbo's take of "You Can't Sit Down" (Battle; 1962) -- this cut is Hammond led even though CC was the drummer in the group.
He was a member of Chris's group from the time Johnny 'Hammond' Smith quit in 58/59 until he joined Motown in 62.
Pity, the Chris Columbo (Columbus) Quintet didn't have more releases over that period -- though they did have a 45 ("Summertime") & LP out on Strand that was cut in 62 (so I guess EVD was on at least some of the tracks).
Strand LP tracks: Happy House / Teach Me Tonight / Summertime / Things Ain't What They Used To Be / All The Way / Minerology / What A Difference A Day Makes / I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart / Mr. Wonderful / Sha-Gong / Melancholy Baby / Bernie's Tune.
(Allow me to add...) Loveblind, thank you for spotlighting this great bandleader. FYI that some of this early EVD info, sans Chris Columbo (sorry), is in the booklet essay. The black & white photo seen inside the digi-pak, of a young Earl with his long fingers over the Hammond keys, is from one of the hard-to-find Blue Note sessions; in that shot he is probably led by Ike Quebec. Those sessions are on Disc 2 of this set:
The Fred Jackson album featuring EVD, also hard to find. This one is made on-demand:
P.S. The eerie electric piano playing on "Grapevine" (Marvin Gaye's version) is by Johnny Griffith. Don't know if Earl is playing anything else on the track.
Last edited by hwume; 04-08-2012 at 05:10 PM.
I haven't got a copy of the EVD CD yet. Can anyone who has got it tell me what it states about EVD's recording work with Chris Columbo. MANY THANKS.
To clarify, I say the booklet has some info "sans" (without) Chris Columbo; before diving into the meat of the story - EVD at Motown - there is a brief timeline about Earl playing on the road for Lloyd Price and Aretha Franklin, then in the studio with Fred Jackson and Ike Quebec. Chris - sorry - got skipped.
Last edited by hwume; 04-08-2012 at 11:26 PM.
Anyone got the Chris Columbo Quintettes' Strand LP ??
If so, does it ID who is playing keys on all of the tracks on the album ?
By all accounts, Mongo Santamaria's Battle 45 track "Watermelon Man" was a massive jukebox hit back in the day and so generated some 'reviews' & press attention.
It's a pity that Chris Columbo's Battle 45 didn't enjoy similar interest, otherwise EVD's work in his group would no doubt have been better documented.
Humour doesn't always translate but I am sure you're not the only person who has thought of one!