DICK GRIFFEY : Giant In Black Music Passes Away ...
We Remember Dick Griffey: The Man Who Discovered
Jody Watley,Babyface & Howard Hewett has Died
September 25, 2010 at 07:43 am
*According to online radio industry publication AllRadioNews.com, Dick Griffey, the founder of SOLAR records, passed away Friday (09-24-10) after a lengthy illness. At this time, the specific cause of death is not known.
In 1977, Griffey created SOLAR and enjoyed success with such stellar groups as Shalamar, Klymaxx, Lakeside and the Whispers. The label also introduced to the world Babyface, LA Reid, Jody Watley and Howard Hewett, among others.
According to an article at Highbeam.com, Griffey entered the entertainment business in the mid-sixties when he discovered the key to business operation:
I started thinking how entertainers come and go, but business people are always here.
He used his talents first as the booking agent for a highly successful nightclub, which he co-owned with former schoolmate and ex-New York Knicks player/coach Dick Barnett, but he quickly branched out into concert promotions under the company name Dick Griffey Productions.
Not content with these achievements, Griffey became talent coordinator for the nationally syndicated television dance program Soul Train. Concerts were becoming routine to me, he explains. When you promote a concert you basically do the same thing every time. I was looking for new challenges. The Soul Train venture was so successful that in 1975 Griffey and the shows producer, Don Cornelius, went on to form Soul Train Records. Starting with one small act, Griffey carefully nurtured the label and, after an amicable separation from Cornelius, reorganized the company and founded the SOLAR label in 1977
Griffey and Cornelius remained good friends, and as a result, SOLAR maintained close ties to the Soul Train show. In 1975, when Soul Train Records was founded, Griffey formed a collective called Shalamar-using a host of session singers to record Uptown Festival, which was a disco-length medley of early Motown hits. After scoring a hit with the recording, he looked to Cornelius to help him put together an actual group to maintain the impact.
In 1977, Soul Train dancers Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel and Gerald Brown (who was eventually replaced by Howard Hewett) were recruited to form the new Shalamar, which would become the fledgling labels centerpiece. Shalamar became one of the labels best selling and most influential acts; scoring nearly 20 hit singles and classics such as: Right in the Socket, The Second Time Around, Make That Move, A Night to Remember (Get Ready Tonight) and This Is For The Lover In You.
SOLARs signature act above all was The Whispers, whose distinct harmonies and carefully-detailed musical and vocal arrangements defined and emphasized the SOLAR sound. The Whispers, who began in 1964, were famous for being Soul Train/SOLAR artists, as all of their biggest hits came from the label, including As The Beat Goes On, Its A Love Thing, Chocolate Girl, Lady, and Rock Steady among others.