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R.I.P Motown recording drummer Uriel Jones


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Motown drummer Uriel Jones dies at 74

Susan Whitall / The Detroit News

Uriel Jones, whose muscular, hard-rocking drum style was an integral part of the Motown sound on classics such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Cloud Nine" by the Temptations, died at Oakwood Hospital Tuesday afternoon. Jones was 74.

Jones suffered heart problems in recent years, including a heart attack in early February when he was in the hospital getting a blood transfusion. While he seemed to be on the mend, he hadn't been able to go home yet.

"I feel blessed to have worked with him," said Bob Babbitt, who played bass with Jones on many Motown hits as part of the Funk Brothers, Motown's core backing band. "As a musician he was incredible."


"Uriel was one of the great R&B drummers," said Allan Slutsky, who made the 2002 movie about the Funk Brothers, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" and managed the Funks for a while.

"Of the Funk Brothers drummers, Uriel was the hardest rocking," Slutsky said. "Benny (Benjamin) and Pistol (Allen) were more finesse, jazz players. Uriel was a beast, that's why he and (Motown pianist) Earl Van Dyke were such a pair. He would hit really hard."

Born in Detroit, Jones always credited music with saving him; like many musicians of his generation, including Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, Jones did a stint at Moore School for Boys, which was for Detroit public school boys with a discipline problem.

But Moore had a strong music program, and it was there that Jones found himself, using the drums as an outlet for his energy.

Jones started out backing Marvin Gaye on the road, and segued into a role as a session drummer at Motown in 1964, the year when the label had exploded on the national pop charts.

A clip from the Funk Brothers film "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" will air on one of this week's "American Idol" Motown week programs, to air Wednesday and Thursday on WJBK-TV (Channel 2).

Surviving Jones are his wife June Jones and three children, Lynnaire Barnett, Gary Jones and Brooke Gardner; as well as seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.


I got to meet and hang out with Uriel a few times. Had dinner with he and his wife June once.






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