Dick Griffey

*On Saturday EURweb reported the passing of entrepreneur, humanitarian and Black Music Legend Dick Griffey. At the time, we didn’t have any specifics regarding his death.

Now, courtesy of a press release via Kelly Bass ([email protected]m), we can now have more information:

Venerated music industry titan Dick Griffey died yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles from complications of quadruple bypass surgery.

Griffey founded SOLAR Records in the late 1970’s and went on to become one of the preeminent black music pioneers of the 20th Century, breaking records and recording artists that ushered in the era of contemporary crossover black music.

A music mogul before the term entered popular culture, Griffey’s talent for picking hit songs and superstars defined the music business for more than two decades. Griffey spent the last 10 years of his life in West Africa involved in commodities and international trade.

Widow Carrie Lucas Griffey said, “We walked these last steps with him and held him close.  But all who knew him understood he belonged to the world. He acknowledged failures but rejected defeat. The doors he helped open, he reached back to bring others with him. He loved life and people. He did a hard day’s work and expected the same from those around him. We celebrate his “going home.”

Mr. Griffey’s Home Going Service will be private and reserved for immediate family. A public memorial is being organized and details are forthcoming. Friends and associates interested in participating in the public memorial may contact:

Dina Andrews 424.248.5380
[email protected]

Cards and other gifts may be sent to:
Dick Griffey In Memoriam
5152 Sepulveda Blvd., #197
Sherman Oaks, CA  91403

Flowers may be sent to:        
Angelus Funeral Home
3875 South Crenshaw Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90008
(323) 296-6666 or (800) 348-3939

He leaves behind his wife Carrie Lucas Griffey; daughters Regina Hughes and  Carolyn Griffey; sons Lucas Griffey and Che Scelsa; five grandchildren:  Curtis, Devin, Paula, Reggie, and Kennedi; and adopted son Haile Williams.

Earlier, we reported …

We Remember Dick Griffey: The Man Who Discovered Jody Watley, Babyface & Howard Hewett has Died

*According to online radio industry publication AllRadioNews.com, Dick Griffey, the founder of SOLAR records, passed away Friday (09-24-10) after a lengthy illness. At this time, the specific cause of death is not known.

In 1977, Griffey created SOLAR and enjoyed success with such stellar groups as Shalamar, Klymaxx, Lakeside and the Whispers. The label also introduced to the world Babyface, LA Reid, Jody Watley and Howard Hewett, among others.

According to an article at Highbeam.com, Griffey entered the entertainment  business in the mid-sixties when he discovered the key to business operation:

“I started thinking how entertainers come and go, but business people are always here.”

He used his talents first as the booking agent for a highly successful nightclub, which he co-owned with former schoolmate and ex-New York Knicks player/coach Dick Barnett, but he quickly branched out into concert promotions under the company name Dick Griffey Productions.

Not content with these achievements, Griffey became talent coordinator for the nationally syndicated television dance program Soul Train. “Concerts were becoming routine to me,” he explains. “When you promote a concert you basically do the same thing every time. I was looking for new challenges.” The Soul Train venture was so successful that in 1975 Griffey and the show’s producer, Don Cornelius, went on to form Soul Train Records. Starting with one small act, Griffey carefully nurtured the label and, after an amicable separation from Cornelius, reorganized the company and founded the SOLAR label in 1977

Griffey and Cornelius remained good friends, and as a result, SOLAR maintained close ties to the Soul Train show. In 1975, when Soul Train Records was founded, Griffey formed a collective called Shalamar-using a host of session singers to record “Uptown Festival,” which was a disco-length medley of early Motown hits. After scoring a hit with the recording, he looked to Cornelius to help him put together an actual group to maintain the impact.

In 1977, Soul Train dancers Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel and Gerald Brown (who was eventually replaced by Howard Hewett) were recruited to form the new Shalamar, which would become the fledgling label’s centerpiece. Shalamar became one of the label’s best selling and most influential acts; scoring nearly 20 hit singles and classics such as: “Right in the Socket”, “The Second Time Around”, “Make That Move”, “A Night to Remember (Get Ready Tonight)” and “This Is For The Lover In You”.

SOLAR’s signature act above all was The Whispers, whose distinct harmonies and carefully-detailed musical and vocal arrangements defined and emphasized the “SOLAR sound”. The Whispers, who began in 1964, were famous for being Soul Train/SOLAR artists, as all of their biggest hits came from the label, including “As The Beat Goes On”, “It’s A Love Thing”, “Chocolate Girl”, “Lady”, and “Rock Steady” among others.

Read more of the history of SOLAR HERE.

Visit the label’s website HERE.