Don Griffin, the guitarist for the Miracles and Anita Baker who had a significant role in the music of the '70s and '80s, died in a car crash on Thursday night in Denver, Colorado, at age 60.
Don, whose brother Billy Griffin was the Miracles’ post-Smokey Robinson lead singer, was born in Baltimore and attended The Peabody Conservatory of Music at age 17. After William “Smokey” Robinson left the Miracles, the group recruited Billy Griffin to be its lead singer, according to Rockhall.com.
Don Griffin joined the Miracles to play the lead and rhythm guitars in 1974 and aided the group as it revamped its sound to correspond more closely with the new and contemporary dance/R&B style, according to Billboard
. Don’s playing was featured in the group’s hit single, “Love Machine,” as well as on the Miracles’ double-platinum-selling album, “City of Angles.”
After the Miracles disbanded in the late '70s, Don and Billy continued to write songs together as Don worked alongside his brother on Billy’s Columbia solo albums throughout the '80s, according to Soultracks.com
. During this time, Don also signed on with Madagascar, a disco group, as it put out its 1981 album, “Spirit of the Street.” Clive Davis also signed Madagascar to Arista Records for the single hit, “Baby Not Tonight” in 1981. As Don and Billy continued to collaborate on Billy’s solo projects, the two worked together on the platinum single,” Hold Me Tighter in the Rain,” as well.
Anita Baker also snatched up Don and his talents in 1986, recruiting him as her rhythm guitarist for her album, “Rapture,” according to Billboard.
After these hits, Don Griffin continued to successfully play and collaborate with other artists throughout the next few decades, working with artists including Donna Summer, Lalah Hathaway, and Earl Klugh, as he wrote and recorded his own music, most notably some smooth jazz solo music during the last few years, according to Soultracks.com.
Don is survived by his brother, Billy, as well as his son, Brandon, and his sister, Diane.
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