BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY


Bandleading siblings whose work under their own name were only a part of their contributions to rock during the 1950’s as the cornerstone of Dot Records in their early days as a label.

Edward “Buddy” Griffin, born 1919, and younger brother Jimmy, born 1921, formed The Griffin Brothers band after both attended Julliard to study music. Buddy, a pianist and Jimmy on trombone were rounded out by Wilbur Dyer and Virgil Wilson on alto and tenor sax while Jimmy Reeves (bass) and Nab Shields (drums) formed the rhythm section as they made a name for themselves around the mid-Atlantic states in the late 1940’s.

Their first break on record came when Shields and the Griffins recorded a session with Roy Brown for DeLuxe which resulted in the Number One hit Hard Luck Blues but the label did not try and sign the group leaving them free to look elsewhere.

Having recruited singer Margie Day the entire package was signed to newly formed Dot Records in 1950 where they got the label off to a great start with back to back Top Ten hits in the fall and winter of 1950 featuring Day’s vocals, while their own instrumental B-side of their debut was regional hit in its own right.

Retooling the group on the fly with the addition of Noble “Thin Man” Watts on sax and a new rhythm section of Wilbur Little and Belton Evans, and bringing another singer, Tommy Brown from Atlanta, into the fold, in effect replicating the diverse lineup of Johnny Otis at the time, the group scored further hits with both Brown and Day on lead over the next two years with Brown’s “Weepin’ And Cryin’” becoming their only chart topper in 1952.

Day left the group around that time and Claudia Swann replaced her but were unable to score any further hits. With Dot Records moving in a more pop direction they left the label in 1954 and split their partnership with Buddy taking Swann with him to Chess Records where the duo scored a hit in 1955. Jimmy meanwhile worked briefly for Atco Records without success, though Noble Watts had a hit of his own with “Hard Times” in late 1957 for Baton Records.

After a long career in real estate following his music days, Buddy Griffin died in 1981 just two weeks after turning 62 , while younger brother Jimmy passed away in 2000, less than two weeks shy of his 79th birthday.
 
 
THE GRIFFIN BROTHERS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

HARD LUCK BLUES
(DeLuxe 3304; May, 1950)
As backing band for Roy Brown… contributing to the despondent mood with Buddy’s piano setting the early pace in an arrangement that features layers of sound wrapping up with Nab Shields’ drums slamming you out of your trance. (8)

NEW REBECCA
(DeLuxe 3304; May, 1950)
As backing band for Roy Brown… the Griffins provide the vigorous musical attitude that turns what on paper looks like a dire lament into something a lot more rousing. (7)

STREET WALKIN’ DADDY
(Dot 1010; August, 1950)
Coolly efficient backing for Margie Day on this suggestive hit that marked their first credited appearance on record, laying back at the start to set the story up and then briefly exploding when called upon in the break. (7)

RIFFIN’ WITH GRIFFIN
(Dot 1010; August, 1950)
Solid instrumental featuring a good arrangement that spreads the wealth around with Buddy, Jimmy and tenor sax ace Virgil Wilson all getting chances to shine… it’s not anything groundbreaking, but it gets the job done. (5)