Walter “Junie” Morrison, the founder of the legendary funk band The Ohio Players, has died at the age of 62. He is one of the structural fathers of funk; he was a producer, writer, keyboardist, and vocalist.
Morrison was the brainchild behind The Ohio Players’ albums, Pain, Pleasure, and Ecstasy, as well as the often sampled 1972 hit song “Funky Worm” which he arranged and co-wrote. He left the band in 1974 and released three solo albums, When We Do, Freeze, and Suzie Supergroupie between 1975 and 1976. He then went on to join Parliament and Funkadelic. With Funkadelic, Morrison co-wrote “One Nation Under a Groove,” alongside George Clinton and guitarist Garry Shider. The 1978 dance title track was the ensemble’s biggest hit, reaching Number 28 on the Hot 100. It paved the way for future success with the group.
“Junie was a fascinating person to work with,” Clinton wrote in his 2014 memoir, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?, “He could do it all, and if you weren’t careful, he would. When he made a record, his preference was to put down the bass, then the guitar, then the keyboards, then the drums. That was fantastic for demos. He could do brilliant things while you weren’t looking. … With Funkadelic, he put himself back in the group environment, and it started to pay dividends immediately.”
Morrison went on to produce for other artists throughout the ’90s. Some younger fans may also be familiar with him as the person Solange paid tribute to on her Grammy Award-winning project, A Seat at the Table. His last solo album, When the City, was released on his own label, Juniefunk, in 2014.
In 1997, Morrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Funkadelic. He is known as an imaginative music legend. The details surrounding his death have not yet been made public.