Music has lost another legend. Funk legend and Ohio Players founding member, Walter “Junie” Morrison has passed away, Okayplayer reports. He was 62.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Morrison is known as one of the pioneers of funk music, writing, producing, and serving as a keyboardist for the Ohio Players. He was integral in the group’s early albums, including Pain, Pleasure, and Ecstasy, and the hit song, “Funky Worm,” which has been sampled by several rappers, including Dr. Dre, NWA, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and Kris Kross, among others.
In 1977, Morrison linked up with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkdalelic and contributed the the groups iconic albums One Nation Under a Groove, Motor Booty Affair, and Gloryhallastoopid, before striking out on his own. He recorded three solo albums in the 1980s, and produced music for other artists–including P-Funk–throughout the 1990s. Morrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkdalelic in 1997.
Once described as “the most phenomenal musician on the planet” by P-Funk front-man Clinton, Morrison inspired several artists throughout his career, including Solange, who included an ode to the musician on her album A Seat at the Table.
After learning of Morrison’s death, Solange penned a remembrance about his impact on her life.
I remember the first time I heard Junie Morrison‘s “Super Spirit“…Q-Tip played it for me one night in his studio in Jersey. No song had ever made me feel quite like it. It tapped into places and spiritual frequencies that I couldn’t even put into words. I listened to it on loop for an hour, each listen hitting me deeper and deeper.
I went home immediately and listened to every song I could find of Junie’s, as well as revisiting and diving deep into his work with The Ohio Players and Parliament. I was blown away by his brilliant musicianship, chords, melodies, and his ability to make the most obscure changes in songs flow from one to the next like he could do it in his sleep, any night of the week. His music found me during a really hard time. During a time of a lot of self-doubt about my own music and career. Any time those feelings would rise, I’d put on “Super Spirit” and try and to manifest it into that moment.
I went down to Dallas and asked the great Andre 3000 to join me on the song. I remember him showing me this video and the first verse coming shortly after. When I got back to LA, I asked Kelly and Nia to sing the intro with me. It was really a kind of cosmic, collaborative experience with incredible people who I feel are connected to the song with a purpose. It’s the last song that made it onto A Seat at the Table and the one I feel the closest to today.
I wrote the song to honor the brilliant Junie Morrison and the impact his work and story had on me, while wanting to challenge my own relationship with “sharing your magic.” The more I learned about Junie, the more I learned how much of his gift he shared through his musical contributions to others; how we have all in some way or another been touched by his contributions to funk music, and about his wealth of inspiration to other musicians. The more he came up, the more I heard the words underrated and under-credited. But the greatest lesson I learned about Junie Morison is that the magic was endless….and the truest testament to real authentic magic….is that it can’t be made….. it just is. When that kind of magic exists, it will happen again and again, no matter what the potion of players are. He had it in his hands. He was very appreciated. He was the “Super Spirit” indeed.
Over on social media, friends and fans also remembered the legend.
The great Junie Morrison has passed on. Innovator, Pioneer, R.I.P Walter Junie Morrison. Gonna miss you Junie. Dayton Funk Royalty!
— Steve Arrington (@Steve_Arrington) February 17, 2017
RIP Junie Morrison. A funk visionary on par with James Brown, Sly, George Clinton, Prince or the bass and drums itself.
— Otto Von Biz Markie (@Passionweiss) February 16, 2017
— a p o l l o n i a rising (@apolllonia) February 17, 2017
Though there are few details about Morrison’s death, we stand with his family and friends during this difficult time.