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  • By Alan Richard


Howard Grimes (photo by Mike Kerr)

Howard Grimes died in February. The former drummer for the Hi Rhythm Section that backed so many greats at Royal Studios in Memphis had a brilliant life of many ups and downs. He was a natural musician, and a deep and caring soul who talked to God all the time and made sure he checked up on people.

As a drummer and percussionist, he played some of the most distinctive grooves in American music history.

Visiting with Howard on his front porch on McLemore Avenue last spring in Memphis was one of the highlights of my life, not to mention my music writing.

Howard was a musical treasure, a link to so much of Memphis' (and popular music's) roots, having played with Willie Mitchell, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell, The Mar-Keys, Booker T. and the M.G.s and others, and then more regularly with Mitchell's guidance for Al Green, Ann Peebles, Otis Clay, Syl Johnson, Don Bryant, the great O.V. Wright and others.

I wrote this new tribute to Howard for my friends at Salvation South, a wonderful new web magazine on Southern culture and how it invites us all to be together more often than apart.

See my earlier in-depth profile of Howard, published by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis (just follow the link from that page on my blog). And don't miss my detailed account of Howard's book signing event at the Stax Museum, when it was proclaimed Howard Grimes Day in Memphis.

He followed his book talk with co-author Preston Lauterbach with a great performance with The Bo-Keys, the band led by Scott Bomar that brought together Howard and other veteran musicians with some of Memphis' best younger talent to play soul, country and some great rockin' tunes together. Don Bryant came out to sing O.V. Wright's A Nickel and a Nail, which Howard had originally played on. The Bo-Keys albums are wonderful, too.

Groove on, Howard. Thanks for all the music. I know close friends and many former bandmates miss you tremendously.

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