The Funk Brothers Honored at Hollywood Walk of Fame

Columnists, Kim's Kronicles — By on March 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Cover Photo- The Funk Brothers Eddie Willis(L-in red) and Jack Ashford(C) with Stevie Wonder. Inside photo- Music icon Stevie Wonder speaks as an emotional Eddie Willis and Jack Ashford listen to his speech. Both photos by Kim Webster.

By Kim Webster

The “Motown Sound” resonates worldwide and that sound is attributed to 13 musicians known as “The Funk Brothers.” On March 21, 2013 bassists James Jamerson, Bob Babbitt; drummers Richard “Pistol” Allen, William “Benny” Benjamin, Uriel Jones; guitarists Joe Messina, Robert White, Eddie Willis; keyboardists Joe Hunter (also Motown’s first bandleader), Earl Van Dyke, Johnny Griffith; percussionists Jack Ashford and Eddie “Bongo” Brown received the 2,493rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7065 Hollywood Blvd. Surviving members Jack Ashford and Eddie Willis attended the ceremony, Joe Messina was ill and could not attend. “Let our legacy last longer than the songs on the radio,” said Jack Ashford.  A very emotional Eddie Willis spoke about the members who have passed away saying “Every time I talk about these guys I get so emotional…I know they are here.”

Eddie Willis (L), displays his plaque with Ray Parker Jr. (Ghostbusters) (C) and Jack Ashford. (R) Willis and Ashford are two of the surviving members of The Funk Brothers. Photo by Kim Webster.

Stevie Wonder honored the Funk Brothers with his eloquent speech and the crowd gave them a standing ovation. Many attended the event including Mrs. James Jamerson and son James Jamerson Jr., Mrs. Ann Babbitt, daughter Karen and son-in-law Dan Notzelman, Claudette Robinson member of the Miracles and First Lady of Motown, Janie Bradford (songwriter, former Motown secretary, Founder of HAL Scholarship Awards), Freda Payne, Mickey Stevenson, Paul Riser, Ray Parker Jr. and many Motown Alumni.  “What we did was the cause of a lot of people being happy,” said Eddie Willis.  We can all remember Motown as part of the musical blueprint in our lives.  To learn the true story of the Funk Brothers, get a copy of the DVD “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.”

(L-R) Bob Babbitt’s daughter Karen, wife Mrs. Ann Babbitt holding Bob’s obituary, and Babbitt's son-in-law Dan Notzelman. Photo By Kim Webster.

Jack Ashford & Eddie Willis with Claudette Robinson. Photo by Kim Webster.

Miko Ashford, Jack's daughter, holding City Proclamation. Photo by Kim Webster.

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