Walter ‘Junie’ Morrison, Funk Great, Dead at 62

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Junie Morrison

Funk legend Walter “Junie” Morrison, a producer, writer, keyboardist, vocalist and founder of the legendary funk band the Ohio Players—as well as the musical director of Parliament-Funkadelic—has died, according to multiple reports. The actual date of Morrison’s death seems to be in question, with some reports giving Jan. 21 as the date and others citing Feb. 11. The cause and place of death have not been revealed. Morrison was 62.

Morrison’s passing was confirmed by Ohio Players member James “Diamond” Williams, who posted on Facebook: “It is with great sadness that the Ohio Players have lost on this earth another one of the original members of the band Walter ‘Junie’ Morrison. When I got in the band in 1972 he was my roommate on the road and a brother-in-law, at one time being married to my wife’s sister. The voice of granny in the funky worm, an incredibly talented individual … RIP PLAYER 4 Life. We send our condolences to his family and his friends and fans.”

Parliament-Funkadelic member Bootsy Collins also posted on social media: “Okay, enough is enough. Somebody tell me this ain’t so. In case it is, we have lost another frequency in the harmonic chain of musical events and precious memories.”

Related: Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell dies

Morrison was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1954 (specific birthdate unknown). He joined the Ohio Players in the early ’70s and appeared on the 1972-73 albums Pain, Pleasure and Ecstasy. He is credited with writing and arranging the band’s 1973 hit single, “Funky Worm,” which reached #15 on the Billboard pop chart.

Cover art of Morrison’s The Westbound Years compilation

Morrison left the Ohio Players in 1974 and released three albums under the name Junie: When We Do, Freeze and Suzie-Super-Groupie. In 1977 he joined P-Funk and became the group’s musical director. He appeared on Parliament and Funkadelic albums such as One Nation Under a Groove (co-writing the title track), Motor Booty Affair and Gloryhallastoopid, at times using the pseudonym J.S. Theracon for his writing contributions. He is also credited as a co-writer of the track “Not Just Knee Deep—Part 1,” which has been sampled often by rap artists.

He later released three solo albums in the ’80s and another in 2004.

Related: James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield dies

Morrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic. He was reportedly the inspiration behind the song “Junie” by Solange, the sister of Beyoncé.

Listen to Suzie Thundertussy” from Morrison’s solo album Suzie-Super-Groupie

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