Walter “Junie” Morrison—a powerfully expressive soul vocalist and keyboardist for two of the most important funk groups ever, Ohio Players and Funkadelic—has died. He was 62. (Cause of death has not yet been reported.)
After Morrison left Ohio Players in 1973, he cut three solo LPs before being hired by George Clinton to serve as Parliament-Funkadelic’s musical director, contributing heavily to the One Nation Under a Groove, Motor Booty Affair, Uncle Jam, and Gloryhallastoopid albums.
In 1997, Morrison entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of P-Funk. You can hear Morrison’s mastery of funk and soul in Ohio Players songs like “Ecstasy” (his peak vocal performance, hands down), “Pain,” “Pleasure,” and the frequently sampled (233 times, according to whosampled.com) “Funky Worm.” Morrison also played a crucial role in Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” (under the pseudonym J.S. Theracon), another foundational cut among hiphop producers.
Morrison also collaborated with LA electro-funk producer Dâm-Funk on 2015’s Invite the Light and was the subject of Solange’s “Junie” from the renowned A Seat at the Table album. G-funk—hell, hiphop and neo-R&B in general—would be much poorer without Junie Morrison's contributions. No less an authority than George Clinton called him "the most phenomenal musician on the planet.”