Archive for Woodlawn Cemetery (MI)

Lawrence Payton

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , , , on November 28, 2022 by Cade

March 2, 1938 – June 20, 1997

Lawrence Payton spent 43 years as part of one of the most successful R&B acts of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. That act was the Four Tops and Payton was often cited as the musical backbone of the group. He was responsible for many of the Tops’ most memorable harmonies and arrangements.

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Uriel Jones

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , , , on October 31, 2022 by Cade

June 13, 1934 – March 24, 2009

As a drummer for the legendary house band, the Funk Brothers, Uriel Jones played on many of Motown Records’ biggest hits of the 1960s. From “Ain’t to Proud to Beg” and “I Can’t Get Next to You” by the Temptations, to Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life”, Jones’ smooth and funky rhythm came to be a staple in the exploding R&B scene out of Detroit.

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DeShaun “Proof” Holton

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , on October 17, 2022 by Cade

October 2, 1973 – April 11, 2006

DeShaun Holton was a Detroit-based rapper who grew to prominence in the 1990s and early 2000s. Under the performing name “Proof,” Holton formed a collective of local hip-hop artists in 1996 called D12. The group contained, at various times, other Detroit contemporaries like Eminem, Denaun and Bizarre among others. Proof and Eminem were close childhood friends and supported each other throughout their careers. Proof toured with Eminem and served as the latter’s hype man in concerts. He also appeared in Eminem’s critically-acclaimed 2002 motion picture, 8 Mile. D12 released two albums and a number of hit singles. As a solo artist, Proof released two EPs and two full-length studio albums spawning singles like “Trapped” and “Kurt Kobain”…which leaned heavily on prescient thoughts of his own death and legacy.

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Susie Garrett

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , on October 10, 2022 by Cade

December 29, 1929 – May 24, 2002

Susie Garrett was an actress and singer who grew up singing in jazz clubs in Detroit. In addition to singing, she enjoyed acting and appeared in a number of plays. By the 1980’s Susie’s younger sister, Marla Gibbs, had forged a career in television and was co-starring on the hit CBS sitcom, The Jeffersons. Garrett made a couple of walk-on appearances on the show and, in 1984, was offered a featured role on the new NBC show Punky Brewster.

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Pervis Jackson

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , , , on October 3, 2022 by Cade

May 17, 1938 – August 18, 2008

For more than half a century, Pervis Jackson was the swagger-filled bass voice of the hugely successful R&B group, the Spinners. Jackson was a founding member of the group along with fellow long-time Spinners Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough and Bobby Smith. Originally based in Detroit, the Spinners signed with Motown Records in 1963, but only found moderate success. Encouraged by another Detroit artist that was experiencing great success, Aretha Franklin, the group let their Motown contract end and signed with Atlantic Records.

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Ronnie White

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , , , on September 26, 2022 by Cade

April 5, 1939 – August 26, 1995

As a founding member of the first successful group at Motown Records, Ronald “Ronnie” White’s place in American music history was solidified early on, even if he didn’t always get the recognition. In 1955, White – along with childhood friend, William “Smokey” Robinson – formed the vocal group that would eventually become the Miracles. When Berry Gordy was founding Tamla records in Detroit, the Miracles auditioned for him having found little interest from other labels. Gordy signed the group to the label that became Motown. The Miracles had their first hit with 1960’s “Shop Around.”

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Rosa Parks

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , on September 12, 2022 by Cade

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February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005

As a little girl in Jim Crow-era Alabama, Rosa McCauley had to walk to school while busses filled with White students in her community passed by. Busses, she later said, were one of the most visible ways she “realized there was a Black world and a White world.” Some years later, it was another bus that would make Rosa a quintessential symbol of the American Civil Rights movement.

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David Ruffin

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , , , on September 5, 2022 by Cade

January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991

Arguably one of the most iconic voices in American music, David Eli Ruffin spent his youth singing with his family in his native Mississippi and throughout the south. When he was 16, he followed his older brother, Jimmy, to Detroit; both with eyes on becoming recording artists. David met Berry Gordy and was able to work and record with minor labels in the area, but he failed to break through. Brother Jimmy was finding some moderate success as a solo artist and would often invite David onstage to perform with him. Jimmy caught a break by joining the Motortown Revue tour alongside acts like Marvin Gaye and the Temptations. David spent time on the tour and got to know the Temps well and in 1964 – when they had to fire Al Bryant from the group – they offered him a job.

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Obie Benson

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , , , on August 29, 2022 by Cade

June 14, 1936 – July 1, 2005

The bass singer for the legendary Motown vocal group, the Four Tops, Renaldo “Obie” Benson was much more than just a background singer. The Four Tops formed in the 1950s and bounced around a couple of record labels before landing with Motown in 1963 and launching a stellar stretch of hits including #1 singles “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”.

Benson acted as choreographer during the group’s early years. And the Tops’ extensive work with Motown house songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland peaked his interest as in writing songs as well.

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James Jamerson

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (MI) with tags , , , on August 1, 2022 by Cade

January 29, 1936 – August 2, 1983

For a large portion of James Jamerson’s hall of fame career, he was unknown to most of the general public. Despite playing bass on some of the biggest hits of the 1960s, Jamerson – a studio musician at Motown’s Hitsville USA studios – remained officially uncredited until 1971. The in-house studio musicians at Motown referred to themselves simply as “The Funk Brothers” and Jamerson’s jazz stylings were among their most notable qualities.

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