Earl Van Dyke

July 8, 1930 ā€“ September 18, 1992

Nicknamed “Chunk O Funk” or “Big Funk” by his session-mates, Earl Van Dyke was a piano player, keyboardist and band leader for the Motown in-house band collectively known as the Funk Brothers. Van Dyke stepped into the role when Joe Hunter left Motown in 1964 and played on hit records for artists like the Temptations, the Four Tops and Marvin Gaye. He also recorded and played his own records, many of which were Motown inspired or covers of classic Motown songs.

Van Dyke’s arrival at the Hitsville USA studios breathed new life into the Motown process. He quickly became the glue that tied everything together in the sessions. He was the bridge between the musicians and the producers who were all learning to navigate new and exciting technology and equipment. As a piano player, he left everything he had on recordings. The studio would often have to retune his piano after a session due to the amount of energy he put into it during recording.

Van Dyke died of prostate cancer in 1992. He was 62 years old.


Woodlawn Cemetery – Detroit, MI

Specific Location

Section 29, Row 444, Grave 10 – Just to the west of the road that runs between Sections 32 and 28 and 7 rows from the northern edge of Section 29.


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