Walter “Junie” Morrison, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose synthesizer work, arranging and songwriting shaped funk in the ’70s and provided a crucial foundation for the West Coast hip-hop sound, has died at 62.
Morrison’s death was announced Thursday on his Facebook page by his daughter, Akasha Morrison. “Dear friends and colleagues, we lost another great one. I’m sure you can agree that Junie will be greatly missed. I wasn’t around my father much but somehow I am like him in so many ways. In that regard, thank you for your support and respect of our privacy during this time,” she wrote.
Morrison was the force behind the Ohio Players‘ 1972 hit “Funky Worm,” whose Granny voice skit intro and widely sampled, landmark synthesizer solo — the track was sampled on N.W.A.‘s “Dopeman” — inspired the sound of West Coast hip-hop.
He left the Ohio Players the following year joining George Clinton‘s Parliament-Funkadelic enterprise, co-writing Funkadelic hits like “One Nation Under a Groove ” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep,” a track which also would become widely sampled by the likes of Dr. Dre and De La Soul.
Last year Solange dedicated a song to him — “Junie” from her critically acclaimed album A Seat at the Table.
The Roots‘ Questlove remembered Morrison on Instagram: “…this man was an uncelebrated unsung unchampioned whose ideas we just took and took and took. I regret so much not having a “proper” conversation about his journey. His songwriting. His technology innovations. Man. This STINGS. Rip #Junie.”
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