Category Archives: Essays

About Mr. Spencer by Junie Morrison


mr-mrs-charles-spencerMr. & Mrs. Charles Spencer
(Photograph compliments of Charles B. Spencer)

Suffice it to say, those who know Mr. Spencer would certainly rank him as the best music teacher they’ve ever had. His influence has followed me throughout my career and his willingness to support my talent and the talents of others, is unparalleled.

I first saw Mr. Spencer when I was a student in elementary school.  Our entire school was called into an assembly one morning, where we found this young African American man who announced that we were, all of us, going to sing a song in three part harmony. To top it off, the song we were to sing would be in Latin.

I had been the pianist for my church choirs for quite a few years by then so I was intrigued by the audacious approach that was being directed toward students of our entire school, most of whom weren’t even remotely interested in music. Or anything else, for that matter.

To make a short story long, in a matter of minutes, Mr. Spencer had separated us into three groups, used one of those new fangled overhead projectors; to let us “see the notes and lyrics we were singing” and the result, I swear to you, was miraculous.  Mozart’s “Dona Nobis Pacem” was performed flawlessly by my comrades and I, within a matter of minutes. And, you know how short the attention span of elementary school kids can be.

Going forward, I had the great fortune to be taught by Mr. Spencer in high school. My first year there did not see me participating in choir.  However, at an assembly, I had the good fortune to see his choir perform… it was the most amazing performance I had ever seen or heard.

“Mozart’s “Dona Nobis Pacem” was performed flawlessly by my comrades and I, within a matter of minutes.”

Unfortunately, it was very hot that day and the lion’s share of the choir passed out on stage, going down like bowling pins, in front of everyone. This was devastating to me, so I missed the first year.  After building up my courage, I signed up for the next year on.

Needless to say, Mr. Spencer’s choir was phenomenal. We learned many lessons about life as it pertains to social interactions and being competitive in general, as well as to the state of race relations around competitions and the like.

Each day, our morning roll call would be at 6:00 a.m. We liked the class so much that we would gladly pay a fine if we were even a second late, come rain, snow or hell. Anyone who would be late would stumble into the choir room, out of breath… “Did I make it?”  We would all burst into laughter and point at the collection jar for fines. At the end of the year, we would invariably have donated enough for a new reel-to-reel tape machine for recording and critiquing our rehearsals.  Awesome.

As a result, our choir was invited to perform at every high school in the area and we never walked away without winning an award for our efforts. We were even invited, every year, to perform Handel’s “Messiah” at the city’s largest cathedral during Holy Week. Keep in mind, that we performed the entire piece from memory, which is over two hours long.

“His influence has followed me throughout my career and his willingness to support my talent and the talents of others, is unparalleled.”

From a personal perspective, I was fortunate enough to be the “student choir director” at many of our concerts; copying Mr. Spencer’s incredible techniques, of course.

To be honest with you, it is hard to speak for others, but as far as I am concerned, a lot of what I have accomplished as a professional in the music business, I owe to Mr. Charles Spencer.

–  Junie Morrison

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Handel’s “Messiah”

Junie Morrison – RBMA Interview by Jefferson Mao

junie-morrison-interview-BreadAloneUncut Version of the Red Bull Music Academy Interview

Q: What was growing up in Dayton like & how did you decide to pursue a career in music? Who were your main influences?

A: Growing up in Dayton was full of wonder.  The area had many reminders and indications that something great was at one’s fingertips.  For instance, we were constantly reminded of the Wright brothers and would inevitably stroll by their bicycle shop on a daily basis.  We believed we could fly!

As far as the music career is concerned, I can’t ever remember a time when I was not working in music.  From my earliest recollections as a very young church pianist onward, I was always heavily involved with music in some capacity or another.

Like a lot of kids in those days, my folks would always ask me to perform for their friends and other family members.  Try singing the bass part on “Duke of Earl” at 3 years old and see what you sound like!  I thought the Platters were interesting but since I was not able to read at that time, I thought I was listening to Pat Boone.  “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles, was a big favorite because I loved the sound of his voice as it interplayed with the orchestral arrangements. 

Little Richard was another genius ground-breaker that I paid attention to, as well as great talents like, Chuck Berry, Patti LaBelle and obviously Aretha Franklin and Stevland Morris a.k.a., Stevie Wonder.  I still listen to Stevie and Aretha’s duet, “Until You Come Back To Me”.  Of course, I, like most everyone else, was very impressed by Mr. James Brown a.k.a., soul brother #1 and the mega talented Sly Stone.

Q: What was the music scene in Dayton like in those days? How & why do you think it became such an important place in the development of funk?

A: In the very early days, the music scene in Dayton was reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album cover for “I Want You”.  You had your churches, schools, radio stations and nightclubs just like most other places.  I think one of the most important influences for me though, was the school system.  We had very inspirational teachers, like Charles Spencer at Roosevelt High.  Teachers like Mr. Spencer had a way of helping us to want to learn and be impeccable with our music studies.  The super talented indie artist and producer Bernard Alexander a.k.a., Skip McDonald a.k.a., Little Axe was also in Mr. Spencer’s class, at least a year or two before I came in. 

Over time, I managed to become student choir director and orchestra conductor at Roosevelt, thanks to the kind of guidance and motivation we all received from our teachers while going there.  As a result, most of the 13 or so bands from Dayton signed to major labels were inspired by the creative opportunities offered by schools like Roosevelt and other fine schools in the city.

Having said that, my own personal feel for the Funk had to have grown out of my experiences in church.  At around 4 years old, I remember playing piano for a baby church choir.  My feet could barely touch the floor.  My only option was to stamp out the Funk using the sustain pedal of the piano, just to give myself some ballast.  The resulting Funk groove was awesome. 

That same baby choir, was also comprised of Thomas and William Shelby, future members of Lakeside and Dynasty with Solar Records and eventually, Johnnie and Keith Wilder, who went on to form the mega group Heatwave, signed to Epic Records.  In other words, the Funk from our area had a strong connection to gospel music from the beginning.

Q: You became proficient as a multi-instrumentalist, playing keyboards, drums and guitar. What were your early professional gigs like? And how did you get your stage name, Junie?

A: You may not be able to call my earliest gigs “professional” but you can certainly call them constant.  In other words, if a hat dropped, I was there singing or playing one instrument or another.  I think anyone who wants to become proficient at anything, has to work constantly to achieve that goal.  If you do, chance has a way of intervening to offer you a way to make your dreams happen.  All it takes, in most cases, is for one to put in the work.  You can imagine how much work, dedication and persistence goes into learning to play those instruments well enough to not embarrass one’s self, let alone to make a living.

As far as the nickname, Junie is concerned, it was given to me by the elders of Ohio Players. It took quite a while before they let me forget my age and lack of experience in the “ways of the world.”

Q: When and how did you meet & join the Ohio Players?

A: Before I became a part of the group, Ohio Players played mostly small nightclubs and high schools.  Obviously, that practice changed before long.  As a result, I first saw Ohio Players when they performed a concert at my high school.  At that time, I was always in the process of forming groups of musicians in some form or another; a drum squad here, a band or choir octet there and anything in between. I thought that if a bee had a knee, I was it.  That being said, Ohio Players were spectacular and by far the most progressive band I had ever seen and as a result, they made a big impact on my musical awareness of the possibilities.

Strangely enough though, it was only through chance that I attended the concert in the first place.  Since it was a school requirement for us to attend theatrical plays from time to time, I remember telling a friend that I was in no way interested in seeing some “lame” theatrical play and would definitely not attend the event.  However, to make a short story long, when the concert was over, I was still sat there a day or two later, in a state of shock.  Eventually, the janitor came by and said, “You alright son?”  I was like…”Knuba-tereg bag throwf!”

That being the case, a couple years after first seeing Ohio Players, I had agreed to play piano for some school friends of mine at a local battle of the bands television broadcast.  To my surprise, Ohio Players were booked to play the same show.  I was shocked to realize that I would have to rock a grand piano, in a battle, against the group that had impressed me the most; guitars, amps, horns, drums and all.  Somebody was going to get their ass handed to them on a plate that day and I was determined that it wasn’t going to be mine. (ha!).

Q: You became the group’s lead singer upon joining the group. Besides your vocals, what qualities do you think you brought to the band?

A: My original duty was as a piano player and eventually, musical director, arranger-producer.  Vocals were a part of the mix, as well.

Ohio Players were comprised of a rhythm section with two horn players.  They had never worked with a keyboard player before I joined, so this was a groundbreaking event.  Strangely enough though, I began by playing trumpet with the band until I could afford one of those “new fangled” electric pianos.  I also went on to play guitar and bass on many of the recordings including “Ecstasy” and “Funky Worm”.  As producer, I was also responsible for supervising all final mixing and mastering sessions of the material.

Funky Worm Promo

Aside from penning Ohio Players’ first gold record in the form of “Funky Worm”, if you could call that a quality, I would like to think that I added more of a sense that “the possibilities are before us” to the mix.  I would often work through the night to be ready to teach the live show arrangements the following day.  I was always at someone’s door,  “Hey Foots (Leroy Bonner), I need to use your guitar so I can learn and show you this part tomorrow!” or “Hey Rock, (Marshall Jones) I need to borrow your bass, got to work out this part for you.”

Obviously, doing things that way also helped me improve my chops on those instruments, as well.  “What goes around.”

Having said that, I believe they trusted that things would be ready no matter what.  I worked as hard as I could and as a result, the Players seemed to be inspired to take things more seriously, more aggressively, if that was even possible for such a dynamic group.  Together, we formed a great relationship and during the process, I was also able to learn a great deal from my association with them, as well.

Ohio Players Pain

Q: How did the Ohio Players work out material in the studio? The quality to classics like “Pain” and “Ecstasy” is so incredibly loose, almost improvisational in nature, especially vocally.

A: How right you are.  “Pain” was indeed an improvisational work.  We were on our way to a gig in Memphis when suddenly, the bus pulled over and it was announced that we were going to test out a studio we had heard about.  I was very young then and “sleepy” at the time but it fell to me, as the band’s musical director, to instantly come up with a song idea for us to record.

My idea was simple.  Since I had the good fortune to be in a band with awesome musicians like Sugarfoot (Leroy Bonner), Marshall Jones, Satch (Clarence Satchell), Pee Wee (Ralph Middlebrooks) and band leader, Greg Webster, it was very easy to “think the musical changes” of the song to them in real-time.  All I had to do was immediately create a hook and call on each of the individuals to solo from time to time.  The track was done in one take, vocals and all.  No problem.  Done deal.

Ohio Players Ecstacy

“Ecstasy” was another one of my tracks.  We were still able to maintain the loose groove we had with “Pain”. The difference in feel was because I added a bit of my gospel roots to the vibe on this one.

As far as the main working process is concerned, it became my job to make sure we knew the arrangements beforehand, in order to cut costs and to alleviate any “time wasting.”  Again, it was a matter of utilizing the diverse abilities that were present within the group.  Ohio Players were very professional, so all of this was the norm for us. 

From time to time, we would take turns performing tracks that another of us would write.  The effect of my singing a track that Sugarfoot wrote for himself and him singing one that I would write for myself, would always have very interesting outcomes.  Creating can be virtually effortless when you have a group of super talented and like-minded people all working together.  Ohio Players fit into that category in every way.

Ohio Pplayers Pleasure

Q: The band became in some ways just as renowned for its album covers featuring model, Pat Evans, as its music. How did you guys settle on the bondage imagery that accompanied these LPs?

A: I think the idea of “Pain” as it was conceived by me in that particular instant, was taken a bit out of context by others with different life experiences.  To me, it had to do with a love affair gone wrong, something that most teenaged people can attest to from time to time.  That being the case, my limited experience was translated by New York photographer Joel Brodsky, into something a young man from the early ’70s mid-west would never have imagined.  Pat’s incredible presence was carried forth through the remaining Westbound/Ohio Players offerings and to some extent, to their Mercury albums, as well.

Q: How did the character of Granny come into being?

A: Early in my career with Ohio Players, we played a lot of nightclubs and had a closer interaction with the audience.  As a result, we would do skits to bring ourselves even closer to the people in that setting.  One of these so-called “skits” involved the character I created of a young boy with a very “dirty mouth.”  That “boy” character was using what later became the “Granny” voice on “Funky Worm”.  From young to old in an instant!

Q: What kind of synth was used on”Funky Worm”? What do you recall about how the song came to be? It’s certainly been sampled quite a bit over the years, why do you think it’s had such longevity?

A: That particular song was entirely of my creation.  I would travel all over the world looking for tech to use on our tracks.  As time would have it, I found an Arp Soloist in a shop somewhere in NYC.  Immediately, it sung to me and I heard an Arabian style riff that had “worm” written all over it.  I bought this synth and went into the studio with it.  During the session, I remember everyone staring through the control room glass with puzzled looks on their faces, that was, until I recorded the Granny voice to cement the track together.  It was lots of fun and the rest is history.

Q: Why did you leave the Ohio Players?

A: Actually, I never “left” Ohio Players.  Most people don’t know that Ohio Players and I continued to work on projects together; most of which were never presented to the public.  Some of them had great potential though.  Certain members of Ohio Players also performed on my Columbia projects.

Junie Morrison When We Do

Q: In the liner notes to “When We Do”, you expressed how you didn’t want to be pigeonholed by genres. What did you try to do musically w/ your solo albums for Westbound that differed from your work w/ the Ohio Players?

A: “When We Do” was a chance to begin creating any form of music I wished.  The material with Ohio Players was already a bit esoteric, but I think one major difference with the solo aspect was that it provided a bit of a wake-up call for me, at first anyway.  Thankfully, playing multiple instruments came as second nature to me by then.  However, there was no MIDI, so I had to devise a way to record without a band to help.

Although I was still a very young producer at that time, I was afforded by Westbound Records, the opportunity to do “When We Do” with a 50 piece orchestra, which may have been a first for an avant-garde Funk musician and harkened back to my days as orchestra leader in school.  That being said, the project immediately pushed me into uncharted territory and the pressure on me to make “When We Do” a successful project, was great.

Junie Morrison Freeze

Q: You addressed a lot of provocative topics on your Westbound solo projects, from cocaine (“Freeze”) to groupies (the “Suzie Super Groupie” LP) to abortion (“World of Woe”). What was your mindset in tackling these topics?

A: Some topics are to be treated seriously and once you’ve done that, other topics are there to pick you up after you’ve cried into your beer.  These topics may have been shocking at the time but compared to what you see on “the internets” today…  Back in the day, for instance, you had Studio 54 rocking the “good times” and I doubt if the people who rocked the house had cream soda in their shot glasses and pushed decongestant spray up their noses.  What else was I to talk about for social commentary?  It came kind of naturally as a recourse of the times.

Junie Morrison Bread Alone

Q: You’ve also long injected playfulness & humor into your music (as on songs like “Cookies” and the album cover to “Bread Alone”). Why do you think a sense of playfulness and funk are so intertwined?

A: At that time, there was a broader palette to paint from in reference to the public’s perception and personally, I don’t like the idea of merely focusing on stress and strife.  I know that the world has plenty of it to go around, but that is not the only thing the world has to offer.  To me though, Funk is an excellent platform for moving or removing the ills that may be present in our lives.

Even hip-hop/rap, in its early beginnings, delivered a very positive (and sometimes playful) message to the people.  Take for instance, popular recording artists of that era like, the socially conscious, Queen Latifah and of course, the playfulness of Will Smith a.k.a., Fresh Prince with Jazzy Jeff.  We also have to remember that community awareness was one of the ideas rap music supported back then.  Nowadays, perhaps, not so much, since the concept of life imitating art continues to be prevalent, when it comes to hip-hop. 

Nevertheless, I think that mainstream rap, in particular, may have lost its social edge, for the most part.  I think a lot of hip-hop/rap artists are passing up an opportunity to address the current social issues, which may have increased in severity since that genre’s inception.

Junie Morrison Suzie Super Groupie

However, the pendulum does shift from time to time and a change can show up when you need it to.  Sometimes, we as artists have a tendency to forget that we also have an audience of youngsters to contend with.  There’s nothing like hearing one of your riffs as sung or rapped by a 5 year old.  As a result, we should remember that our music still has the ability to mold the world in which we live.

Having said that, the Bread Alone album cover was not so much humorous as it was a feast for the birds in NYC after the photo session was over.  “Waste not, want not.”

Q: What prompted your move to join Parliament-Funkadelic?

A: I don’t know if “join” is the right way to describe it.  I think “starting to work with them” would be more accurate.  I would often meet the members of P-Funk on tours we would all be a part of, so the idea of working with them was not that far-fetched.  Whenever I would run into Bootsy Collins during a recording session in Detroit, he would always say… “Yabba dabba doosie Junie Baba!!! You should come and do some tracks with P-Funk!” There was also Mallia Franklin, whom I had known since early Ohio Players days, who thought it would be a good idea.  Garry Shider and I had also become good friends and would meet from time to time.  However, I’d have to say Garry was most responsible for my initial involvement in working with the group.

P-Funk One Nation

Q: George Clinton has said that “One Nation Under a Groove” was in fact the first session you did w/ P-Funk, is that correct?

A: Yes. George is correct on that one.  The “track” for “One Nation (Under A Groove)” was in fact the first project I co-wrote and arranged for P-Funk.  However, as I recall, George was not present at the inception of the track. Thankfully, Garry Shider was there and very supportive during the process.  Garry helped to ease the tension between myself and the members that I did not yet know personally, which made my arrangement easier for the band to handle. Bootsy Collins added his drums at a later date. 

Bernie Worrell was not present at the track’s inception either.  Bernie was waiting on his awesome Moog Modular to arrive, which took a bit longer than expected.   However, once Bernie and Bootsy added their vibes to the track, “One Nation Under a Groove” became unstoppable.  The awesome vocal aspects of the track were also added some time later, as well.  So in spite of what you may have heard to the contrary, this is the way it really happened.

Q: What was the process of working w/in P-Funk like? As a multi-instrumentalist did you record a lot of stuff individually and overdub parts, or were sessions generally done live with a group?

A: Aside from anything that I wrote and recorded for them myself, usually, I would work as a “specialist” on specific problems they might have with a track or song in general.  Many of my tracks were used as I recorded them, however, occasionally I would pass through a session and add a part to a track that I liked.  Very seldom was the group, as a whole, involved in a track at the same time.  There were just too many musicians and vocalists to constantly be in the same place at the same time.

Q: What do you recall about the process of making “One Nation Under a Groove”, both the song & album?

A: My contributions to the album “One Nation (Under a Groove)” album included the work I did on the title track.  I also worked on “Into You”, “Groovallegiance”, “Who Says A Funk Band” and “Cholly”.  The bulk of my contributions on these tracks were in writing and lead vocals.  A couple of the tracks I worked on from that “session” also went to Bernie Worrell’s “All The Woo In The World”, where I wrote the lyrics and performed lead vocal on the song “I’ll Be With You” for his album project.

As far as the “One Nation (Under a Groove)” album is concerned, P-Funk had many tracks at the time that were in ‘music only’ form so it was easy for me to act as a writer.  These tracks were blank slates and needed lyrical/vocal ideas to make them work.  The tracks were given to me and I listened to them and matched those tracks to members of the group i.e. Ray Davis and Ron Ford with “Into You” and Garry Shider with “Cholly”.  I also liked the work that Michael Hampton did on “Who Says A Funk Band” and decided that it needed something different for the vocals, this track was a good fit for one of my alter egos, so I performed the lead vocals on “Funk Band” and “Groovallegiance”. 

I do recall that one of the sticky points with “Groovallegiance” was my use of the word “Funkadelica”.  I found out later that they had used the word “Funkadelia” in another of their concepts. However, I thought “Funkadelica” had a better flow to it and it stuck!  Having said that, I wrote the lyrics for the above-mentioned tracks and produced the vocal sessions but in the end, I have to say, there were as many wonderful talents on the vocal side of P-Funk as there were on the musician front.

Just the same, everyone was buzzing at that time. It was really amazing to see all of the highly professional musicians and vocalists in P-Funk working together.  There was a great deal of movement and creativity around because many other projects (iterations) were being developed at the same time.  Without this movement, borne by the tremendous talents involved, we would be telling a different story now.

P-Funk Uncle Jam Wants You

Q: What are your memories of making “(Not Just) Knee Deep?” (which George Clinton once explained was originally written in a different time signature)? How did you do the arrangement & how was the song’s signature keyboard riff created? (I’ve read that Bootsy in fact played drums on the record, is that correct?) And most importantly why are you not credited on that track on the “Uncle Jam Wants You” album?

A: Acting as a music producer, which is my primary function within most of my collaborations, means being able to help to bring an idea into physical form, so that it can be shared not as a concept but as a physical event.  A group of people would have a hard time dancing to a concept unless it existed in physical form.  Case in point, most of us, as creators, are not creating for mind readers, so when we create we need to have our ideas stepped down to a lower vibration and affixed to some medium or another in order for those ideas to be shared.  Simply put, the trick on Knee Deep was to physically take George’s 3/4 lyrical idea and mesh it into my 4/4 Funk anthem.

As far as the arrangement is concerned, I always create a catalog of music, some with lyrics and others with music only.  The track for “(Not Just) Knee Deep” was one of the musical events in my catalog.  It was at least a few years old before I used it for what was to become “(Not Just) Knee Deep”.

My side of the production also involved setting the framework for the rest of the musicians to fit into.  A lot of my work for the group was done at a remote studio in north Detroit where generally, I would set up a track with drum machine, any keyboards, bass and guitars.  “(Not Just) Knee Deep” was no exception.

I also worked with a team of vocalists to set the bedrock of backing vocals for the tracks.  This would mostly be with Lynn Mabry and Dawn Silva.  For Knee Deep the main background vocal foundation was done with Lynn, Shirley Haden and Cheryl James.

I created Knee Deep using a drum machine, Fender Rhodes, Steinway Grand, Mini-Moog for the lead and bass lines and a Gibson L6S for my jazzy guitar solo.  Bootsy added his drums at a later date.  In fact, Bootsy was also the drummer on “One Nation (Under A Groove)”.   Michael Hampton added his monumental guitar solo to the Knee Deep mix some time later, as well.  Although Bernie Worrell is a phenomenal musician, contrary to popular belief, he did not perform on “(Not Just) Knee Deep”.

Junie Morrison PFunk_Bernie Worrell

Yeah, missing credits. Let me start by saying that although George is a great ideas man, a master showman and a super genius at upstaging, it is blatantly obvious that he is not an arranger, nor does he play any instruments on the projects we’ve spoken of so far.  What George does and does well, is only part of the equation.

P-Funk Motor Booty Affair

To be honest with you, without the enormous creative power of the members of P-Funk (most unsung and many who are no longer around to speak for themselves) George would, at times, have been hard pressed to write himself out of a paper bag.  This would go a long way toward explaining the random nature or lyrical style of most of the tracks produced by George. 

What used to crack me up, for instance, was one of the things I would see whenever I would pass through United Sound during the P-Funk’s sessions in the late ’70s. Just being there, witnessing the sheer amount of input from the magnificent members of the group caused me to marvel at George’s phrase: “Oooooh, write that down!”  Again, this aspect would account for the random nature of most of the lyrical content contained within the P-Funk tracks. 

Unfortunately, many of the members who provided that input were never credited for it.  Having said all of that, it was obvious that George had a certain feel for the groove and for recognizing the talent in others, so once those massive talents were put together, the sky was the limit.  That much, you can’t take away from him.


Seriously though, I am surprised that people aren’t more conversant about the incredibly talented original members of Parliament and Funkadelic who were integral throughout the P-Funk phenomenon and contributed untold amounts of material to the P-Funk legacy as a whole. 

This being the case, one can easily surmise that without my having created, produced, arranged and recorded the music side of the project, “(Not Just) Knee Deep” would not exist as we know it today, if at all. 

P-Funk Electric Spanking

As, a consequence, those who were entrusted to insure the proper credits were posted, were either misinformed, misunderstood or completely unprofessional in failing to do so. Who is to say for sure.  At any rate, once I saw that the records had already been pressed and distributed with errors, there was no way to say, “Hey! Call back all those records that were pressed and put the right credits on them, yo!”

Q: In the 80s you left P-Funk to focus on your solo career once again. How, if at all, did your approach change on your Columbia Records albums?

A: First, let me say, I think it would be more accurate to say that George left P-Funk in the ’80s.  By then, P-Funk had all but disbanded and George’s personal projects started to take precedence.  So it was for me again, just moving from one project to another as opposed to “leaving.”  As a result, I wrote and produced many tracks on George Clinton’s albums for his solo Capitol Records projects.  After all, it’s what I do.

That aside, my work with Columbia was indeed an extension of my solo work; a flow of sorts, that was always present with my creations.  I always had plenty of music to share with the listeners and never stopped developing my own projects, regardless of what project I was producing on others at the time.

Junie 5

Musically speaking, I continued to go solo with instrumentation and vocals while adding more tech to the mix.  Most of the tracks for Columbia Records were as esoteric as always but great fun to produce.

Q: Rap music obviously had a huge effect on the landscape of popular music in the 80s. Some musicians of the time appeared threatened by it as it grew in popularity. How did you view it? Were songs like “Rappin About Rappin” spoofs or appreciations of hip-hop?

A: Early on, I could clearly see that hip-hop, in its infancy, would become popular within the industry.  I remember seeing children riding by in their folk’s cars, as they were rapping along with the lyrics of the early hip-hop tracks playing on the radio.  We would be listening to the same station so it was obvious to me that these kids knew every lyric of every rap song that played.  It was very impressive. 

Not to be one to ignore a trend of that magnitude, I created “Rappin About Rappin” as a salute to the genre.  Of course by being a vocalist and musician, I had to add a bit of cheek and some melodic contributions to my “rap.”  I was also a bit surprised at how well “Rappin about Rappin” was received.

Later on, I began to discover that many of my musical creations were being sampled by some of the greatest hip-hop artists we know of today including, “Ecstasy” as used by Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls on “Brooklyn’s Finest”, “Funky Worm” on “Jump Jump” by Kris Kross and Digital Underground’s hit, “Humpty Dance” which used Parliament’s “Let’s Play House”, not to mention, J Dilla’s awesome track, “So Far To Go” featuring Common and D’Angelo which was a cover based on my first solo single “Tightrope”.  It was also interesting to hear that my “Worm Sign” was powering a lot of the West Coast Rap scene’s vibe.  So at the end of the day, my groove seemed to fit right in.

Junie Morrison Techno-Fréqs

Q: How did you deal w/ the changes in recording technology through the 80s? On “Techno Freqs” you warned against the dehumanizing effect of making music with machines.

A: For me, creating in the ’80s was more or less the same, since I had used synthetic instruments during the Funky Worm days in the ’70s on.  Plus, both of my Columbia albums were synth-based projects, as well.  However, I did keep my analog chops in the mix by playing live drums, bass and guitar on those projects.

“Techno-Freqs”, however, was created on the cusp of the tech movement.  Sure, drum machines existed at that time but a sampler with 3 seconds of memory was costing thousands of dollars.  For “Techno-Freqs”, I used a shit-load of those things.  MIDI was also still in its infancy at that time so most of the tracks were still played by hand.

For example, I recorded the complete “Evacuate Your Seats” album at least 3 times; once in my home studio, another time in Detroit and finally, NYC.  These recordings were done in pseudo-techno style because the tech needed to do it purely, did not yet exist.  So, each time I would have to re-record the project from scratch.  Obviously, tech had some early teething problems, for instance, once you turned off a sampler, the sampled material was lost forever.  Even my super expensive Synclavier computerized keyboard was so new that it had no MIDI connections at all so using it with a sequencer was out of the question.

To be truthful though, being one of the early advocates of Techno was a rough nut to crack but totally worth it.

As far as my statement about the effects of tech being dehumanizing, we could have considered it less of a warning; more of a speculative prophecy, perhaps.  As a result, it was easy for me to envision and to be a part of the movement toward a music-technology mix.  So far, you’ve needed humans to make tech.  How long that will be the case, is up for grabs.

I think the challenges faced with the use of synthetics today have forced many into a “one-groove-fits-all-no-particular-music-skills-required, format.” Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, because it also provides more scope to individuals who do have a more formalized music background or experience.  I mean, if you think about it, going to a concert these days is more about selfies and filming stage performances on smart phones than it is about the “groove.”   It seems as though no one is actively “listening” to the music that tech makes; in the way that it could be said that no one is “dancing” to the music that tech makes.  On “Techno Freqs”, I wrote of the trance being simulated even before there was “trance-music.”   I know that it seems like I’m speaking in absolutes but I am only attempting to further a point.

Q: How aware were you of Detroit’s techno scene of the 80s – which was also hugely influenced by P-Funk and the records you made?

A: Strangely enough, I actually began recording “Evacuate Your Seats” in Detroit around ’82, which was to be my pure Techno-Funk experiment using the Synclavier and other early pre-MIDI instruments.  “Techno-Freqs” was the first single from the “Evacuate Your Seats” L.P. 

Computer Games

I had also co-produced the title track, and others, on George Clinton’s “Computer Games” around that time, as well.  For instance, it was quite challenging to create, from scratch, the computer game sounds of the title track.  Obviously, there was no preset at that time which would have helped me to accomplish that feat.  Having said that, I did stretch out a bit by playing marimbas on “Pot Sharing Tots” just to get my own back.  Aside from that, I was unaware of any other projects incorporating so-called, “Pure Techno” and “Pure Funk” together before then. 

Junie Morrison Stick It In

In fact, I was a bit shocked when the second single from the “Evacuate Your Seats” album entitled, “Stick It In” was reported as being a big techno hit in Detroit.  Having said that, during the recording process of the album I did allow a couple local musicians/DJs in Detroit to see a bit of my production as it was taking place at United Sound Studios.  So, it is possible that Detroit Techno may have been further influenced, to some degree, by the material I was creating at that time. Who is to say for sure?

Q: What do you make of the modern funk movement these days, with the music of folks like Dam-Funk and others?

A: It is good to see the Funk movement continuing.  In fact, I believe that Dam-Funk is one of those at the forefront of this Modern Funk movement.  Aside from reminding me of myself in a lot of ways, he embodies the true spirit of Funk and is a very dedicated musician and true Funk ambassador.  I have actually contributed a bit of vibe to Dam-Funk’s new album and also performed an hour-long electronic set from my BoyInSea project at one of his events.  I had a great time playing my electronic music live, for a new generation of Funk fans and the response was excellent.

Q: When I’ve spoken to Dam-Funk, he’s said that in the full 15-minute version of “(Not Just) Knee Deep” you can hear almost a whole story of an era – how it’s both so celebratory and somber at different points. Was that at all your intent when making it?

A: Hmmm.  Yes.  As I’ve mentioned before, the track, “formerly not known as (Not Just) Knee Deep” existed as a groove that I would play for my closest friends.  Whenever they would visit, that particular “Funk” was high on the request list.  I guess in the same way that George’s melody, formerly referred to as “George’s fishing song” went over big out on the high seas. 

As far as the dichotomy of sensations that one might experience from hearing the track is concerned, it would have to be put down to the vibe of the music formerly called, Soul, which is always going to tell that underlying story.  The listener only has to be intuitive enough to channel it from the vibes they hear and I believe that that is what happened.

If anything, the somber aspects that Dam-Funk may be referencing could be attributed to the fact that most of the so-called Funk you’re hearing these days has been copied, diluted or “smudged,” as young Azealia Banks puts it, by so many non-funky artists that it has practically become a lost art form.  One could lament the fact that Funk is no longer evolving in the way that one knows that it can. 

Personally though, I’ve never been into the idea of a one-size-fits-all aspect of Funk.  People have a way of creating their own idea of what Funk is.  However, Funk has always been progressive, whether it was being expressed by Elvis’ channeling of Chuck Berry, The Beatles with Billy Preston, (who never seems to be noted as being associated with the group, by the way) or even Jerry Lee Lewis and his passion for Little Richard’s artistry.  Funk has always been very popular with recording artists of all types.

Having said that, Dam-Funk may be feeling that in most cases, the genre has evolved into something that is a shadow of its former self.  I know that that is what I feel.  If one were to listen to modern methods, say for instance on Soundcloud’s most recommended list, one could hear that some aspects of the Funk still exist.  However, what is missing is the content represented inside the Funk’s overall concept.  What I mean to say is that the essence of the Funk has always had a tendency to speak of bringing people together.  Now however, most tracks that include some facet of the roots of the Funk, communicate an anti-social idea, which of course, is contrary to the core of what the Funk has always been about.  -JM

Read the edited interview by Chairman Mao
posted to Red Bull Music Academy on April 7, 2015:

Find out more about Junie Morrison, cuz y’know, there’s always more:

Junie Popup Store: https://juniepopupstore
Suzie Thundertussy on Junie Popup Store
Stick It In on Junie Popup Store
Techno-Fréqs A/B Flip on Junie Popup Store
Twitter Handle: @JunieMorrison
Facebook Page:



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Suzie Thundertussy and Bass Players


Fender Jazz BassJunie’s Fender Jazz Bass

Social commentary has always been one of my main goals inside the music I create.  Lots of times, at my age, then, it was very hard to discern what was proper in the eyes of the public and what would be considered “in bad taste”.  Back in the day, what I may have flirted with and deemed to be racy and somewhat bad in taste would pale by comparison to what the average listener hears today.  Having said that, deciding to tackle the aspect and impact of the “groupie” was one of those delicate commentaries that I chose to explore.

Therefore, doing most of my early recordings in Detroit required that I, as a solo musician, would ultimately have to compete with pianists, drummers and bass players etc. from that city. Detroit had some great bassists, most notably, James Jamerson Sr.

Suzie Thundertussy by Junie Morrison
on Bandcamp

As a Detroit “bass player” I felt it was important to know the techniques of the other players in that great city in order to tell the musical stories I wanted to tell.  So it was, with Suzie Thundertussy.  This track represents, to me, the most fun I’ve had playing bass on a session.

Having had the good fortune to work with the great bassist and teacher, Marshall Jones, of the Ohio Players, provided a fantastic opportunity to learn other aspects of my passion for what great bass players do.  Having said that, I hope I also contributed something to our association through adding my own desire and techniques to the mix, as well.

Marshall Jones of The Ohio Players

In the years before I actually could afford my own bass, it was Mr. Jones who provided me with first class bass instruments to practice with. Marshall would always say “Sure, you can take this bass home with you for practicing, but bring it back within two days!”  I’d be like…”Ok.”

Marshall would be like…”Take this book of progressions with you and be sure to practice them!”  I’d be like…”Ok.”

Give and take is really important.

So, I now present to you Suzie Thundertussy a mixture of techniques from two of my favorite bassists, Mr. James Jamerson Sr., and Mr. Marshall Jones.


Suzie Thundertussy
Written by W. Morrison
Produced by Junie Morrison
@1974-1975 Juni Morrison Songs/Bridgeport Music Inc. (BMI)
Cover Art by Ki Shomen

Marvin Gaye – Whats Going On with James Jamerson on Bass

“Detroit had some great bassists, most notably, James Jamerson Sr.” -JM

James Jamerson, Bass Player

“As a Detroit “bass player” I felt it was important to know the techniques of the other players in that great city…” -JM

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Funky Worm – Ohio Players

Funky Worm PromoFunky Worm by Ohio Players.
Released on Pleasure
(Westbound, 1972)

“Never forget where you came from.” – JM

Upon its release in 1972, as part of the Ohio Players’ sophomore album, Pleasure, this ground-breaking and ultra-funky song went massive and was the first hit from Pleasure to become a platinum seller.

Ohio Pplayers PleasurePleasure, Ohio Players

Funky Worm was written and produced by Junie Morrison, who also performs the voice of Granny and the “worm sound” on synthesizer. The “worm sound” created by Morrison, has since been much imitated, sampled and repurposed by both hip-hop artists and music FX plugin creators all over the musicverse. – P.Neal.

Jump by Kris Kross

Edit: Wow! A day or so after posting this article, Dre suddenly started talking about The Funky Worm infusion in hip-hop music on his radio show, The Pharmacy. Here’s a quick sound bite:

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Dam-Funk Interviewed by LA Record



Dam-Funk –  Invite The Light
(Album due to drop, Fri., September 4, 2015 on  Stones Throw.) 

Excerpt from interview by LA Record:
This album begins and ends with that transmission from Junie Morrison. On the first instance, it says, ‘If we invite the light, it will surely come to us. If we invite the funk, it will never let us down.’ But at the end, he adds the line: ‘Therefore, we must invite the light, in order to survive.’ That raises the stakes—is this album about life and death for you?

Dam-Funk: I appreciate you asking. In order to survive … it’s supposed to be almost like a blueprint, in the way it starts out optimistically and then goes deep into the darkness and then comes out. I’m telling you right there, in the record, that if you just free your mind of all negativity … like ‘Virtuous Progression,’ I’m saying if you get to that point that you can actually calm down the voices in your head and whatever distractions you have, to live this kind of life. Yeah, we can laugh, we can play—and also do some devious things as well, because it’s just human nature—but at the end of the day, you have to realize, ‘I still want to invite the light in my life and walk through that door.’ There’s a promo—a little 15-minute thing that I’ve done on my Instagram—and I’m walking towards a door and I open it and I walk through the door, and there’s a big light shining. That right there is summing up the record. It’s a choice. You don’t have to stay in the darkness all the time…
Read the entire article on:  LA Record

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Dam-Funk is at:

Seeds by BoyInSea

Seeds by BoyInSea
Created, Produced and Performed
by Junie Morrison
from Copying Atlantis

Released 02 May 2014
© 2010 JunieFunk Recordings/MicroNagual

by Annyash B. Arrife

The seeds were a thought; the music of the universe encapsulated, and transformed into biological form. Melosos would release the seeds, bestowed upon him by his Mother, created by the Manifest peoples of his home world, Kua’reem, to breath life into this barren planet.

I think I might stay a while, he thought. This being the seventh planet that I have seeded on this distant corner of our galaxy. It was once called Afradon and so it shall be named once more.  And, I shall build upon the highest mountain a city, which will ring with laughter, prosperity and music, and all forms of creativity will be explored. My city will be a shining example to all the worlds that will grow from it, spreading along this string of pearls known as the solar system of Celestion.

With that, he reached into the zero space cavity in his chest and brought forth the seeds from between his hearts. His clawed hand open and the light of the seeds was released. They sang and shone and mixed with the turbulent winds and spun toward the heavens…

Excerpt from
BoyInSea Legends: Seeding Afradon
by Annyash B. Arriffe

Buy Seeds by BoyInSea on Bandcamp
Visit the BoyInsea website at:
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Mom, Dad, “I need…”

ripe organ

When I was coming up, my folks did what ever they could to make sure that I had the instruments that I needed.  I’m not sure how they classified “needed” but that didn’t seem to change the fact that “needed” was the operative word.  My folks’ house already had a piano that I “needed” from when I was quite small.  I’d have to say that I still don’t know how they managed to get this gigantic upright piano into the basement (my lair) but somehow they did. “Mom, dad, I need a guitar.”  Somehow, it would show up.  Blessings on them.

Having said that, one day, after listening to Booker T and the MGs on WDAO, it occurred to me that I needed an organ.

Now, I must say that I was not spoiled, nor could my folks afford something that a spoiled brat would ask for.  Somehow they believed in and trusted me when I would request something to be creative with.

Once again, shortly after my request and upon returning home from school, I discovered an organ in our living room.  Not my basement lair mind you but the living room.  ( curiously so )  Right, I thought. Now the magic can begin.  To make a short story long, I sounded a bit like Aunt B from Mayberry on that bad boy… and I knew it.

“Mom, Dad, I do not need an organ after all.”  As if the reverse of my magic words would have an effect, and on my return from school the next day, said organ had magically disappeared.  To this day I don’t know how they managed to do these things but the evidence is clear.
I secretly vowed to one day, tame that beastly organ and emerge victorious after my ghastly and costly defeat.

Just as those particles flowed from the past, gaining momentum, now in the future, I present to you: Tacheon Flow.  Hope you like!


Tacheon Flow
by The Algorithm
Written, Produced and Performed
by Junie Morrison

©2009 JunieFunk Recordings, Juni Morrison Songs (BMI)

Sizzling jazz-funk from the JunieFunk vaults. We’re rockin’ tha house with a nod to the organ led jazz and blues musings of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, Booker T and Bill Doggett, seasoned with that Junie vibe.

Tacheon Flow is an instrumental track which captures a time-honored feeling of R&B and jazz fusion, releasing the tachyons, as “organic” funk flows from the past into the future.  After all, if you recognize not the past… you should be fearful of the future.

Buy Tacheon Flow at The Junie PopUp Store on Bandcamp

In case you want to check out the afore mentioned organ maestros, here you go:

Jimmy Smith

Jack McDuff

Booker T 

Bill Doggett
Buy Tacheon Flow at The Junie PopUp Store on Bandcamp
Leave a comment because what you think matters to the future of the funk.

Good For You by Tekadelic, Funk and The Rule of The Technomage

Tekadelic - GoodForU
Tekadelic – Good For U (2014)

 Good For U by Tekadelic
Created, Produced and Performed by Junie Morrison

I like all kinds of music. Mm-hmm, my taste is pretty wide, mostly thanks my uncle (I’ll call him “Uncle Bob” for now). Y’all know that one uncle you had as a kid, the one who had that huge collection of vinyl records that he played on a record player you weren’t allowed to touch. That thing was his pride and joy, it played 7 inches and 10 inches, 12 inches and albums. Uncle Bob had a special duster for his vinyl. Just cleaning and fussing. All this stuff about the turntable and stylus. Needle quality by grade? I tell you, I had no idea of what he was talking about, or why it mattered so much.

I realized later that he was what some people call an audiophile. Yeah, I know that might sound weird, but it just means he was enthusiastic about his records and the type of equipment he played them on. Loved ‘em. Plus, he was really knowledgeable about the artists we were listening to.

All kinds of music got played at Uncle Bob’s house, jazz, reggae, funk and soul music were his favorites, but he might throw on a little ol’ fashioned rock and roll every now and then. Depending on the day, and, of course how much he’d had to drink, his tastes would vary from Ella Fitzgerald or Duke Ellington big band stuff, through Fats Waller, Billie Holliday, Dorothy Dandridge, Jimmy Cliff, Coltrane, Miles, Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Aretha, a smidge of early Motown, seasoned with some Chuck Berry or Tina Turner. I think if he’d had the chance to learn an instrument, he would’ve played in a band, probably as a drummer.

My generation though, yeah, most of my friends kept to one type of music, staying in their safe zone, already set in stone at a young age. But I learned from my uncle that it’s okay to like whatever you like, and to not let yourself get locked in a box that limits you or your taste. I liked a lot of popular music, underground stuff, venturing into techno, house, garage, grime and so on.

Raves were not really my thing, but I liked the music.
Technological. Electronic. It called to me.

I find the electronic music that Junie Morrison makes fun and interesting because it comes from some other place on the sensibility scale. More so than anything that you might get from the currently popular EDMers out there. Not to take anything away from DJs dropping mixes, or button pushers and splicers, better known as beat makers, cos those guys get some biiigazz crowds, but to me, the Junie vibe’s kinda more about combining technology and musicality than about cake-in-your-face hype.

Junie Morrison is a musician, a producer, arranger, writer, and technologist. Truly, he’s a technomage for our time. He sets his own rules. Creates his own tonal reality. He understands harmonics. For Junie, technology is simply a tool, another instrument to be mastered and bent to his will. He did this with his creation of the Funky Worm sound, using the Arp Soloist, and then with other tracks like Techno-Fréqs, etc., which had a technological feel, but were actually created, and got that real Detroit techno buzz, way before anyone had even heard of the 808.

Good For U by Tekadelic
Created, Produced and Performed by Junie Morrison
Written by Junie Morrison and  B. Sheriff
Cover Artwork by Anna B. Sheriff – Ki Shomen Project
Released January, 2014

Take Good For U by Tekadelic, for instance. I understand that this track was entirely composed on an iPad. Oh, hell yeah! But, d’you know how hard that is? I can’t stress enough just how hard it is to make something that good on an iPad! But Junie doesn’t care. He kicks total ass with gutsy keyboard synths on the leads and he’s pushing out some butt-shakin’ bass lines and drums with a cheeky funk beat and that oh so distinctive hand clap. To make it even better, man, he’s giving it up to the techno-funk gods with his throaty vocals and those live guitars riffin’ and shredding my speakers, and it’s like he does all this without breaking a sweat.

Now, see, this is the kinda thing makes Junie my favorite artist. His productions spell freedom, feeling and fun. So, y’all need to stop playin’ and get this track. Oh, and please, somebody give this man his doctorate, he’s more than earned it.


For Junie Blogtropolis
by Anna B. Sheriff

Buy Good For U on Bandcamp
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Junie Morrison – Pretend (I Don’t Love You)

Pretend (I Don’t Love You) on Bandcamp
Written, Produced and Performed
by Junie Morrison

Sometimes you just want someone to understand how you feel. Your world has just caved in around you and you can’t breathe. Your chest is in knots, feeling like it’s filled with lead. And, each heartbeat pumps out new tears, falling hot and blistering into the empty space that was once where your love belonged.

Sometimes you just want to talk to someone about your lost romance, but you see that nobody understands, and the words won’t come. Then that song plays, and you hear it, as if for the first time. And, maybe it’s saying everything you’ve been unable to express. It talks to you. Maybe the understanding you’ve been looking for is in the music that’s playing. At first, you just listen. Then you join in, singing the words, finding your own way to heal, finding your own way back to where your smile lives.

The ballads created by Junie Morrison, have a way of affecting us this way, communicating on a personal level. Each note rings out with a longing to be acknowledged by the heart, to be felt by the soul and recognized by the mind. His melodies are unrestrained genius, his lyrics are electrifying and his arrangements masterful, revealing, perhaps, something of the real, human sensibilities behind the music.

Pretend (I Don’t Love You) written, produced and performed by Junie Morrison, draws unreservedly on deeply felt yearning. Originally created in 1995, it is a passionate combination of Soul, R&B and Country, blending heartfelt lyrics and electric guitar with rousing string accompaniments. Junie’s voice is clear and expressive, brimming with rich melodic tones.

Drawn in the summer of 2014 from Junie’s vault of previously unreleased tracks, Pretend has the impact of an intensely gorgeous classic. This song is a testament to lost love, memories and heartbreak. Pretend is also a wonderfully uplifting and ultimately satisfying song to listen to, especially when you sing along to it, real loud, country style.

For Junie Blogtropolis
by Anna B. Sheriff

Leave a comment because what you think matters.
Listen to Pretend (I Don’t Love You) on Bandcamp