A legendary member of the Ohio Players has died, according to news reports and a post on his official Facebook page from his daughter.
Walter “Junie” Morrison, a noted producer, keyboardist and singer, is credited with writing The Ohio Players major hits “Pain,” “Pleasure”, “Ecstasy” and “Funky Worm.”
Morrison, a Dayton native, was 62.
“Dear friends and colleagues, we lost another great one. I’m sure you can agree that Junie will be greatly missed. I wasn’t around my father much, but somehow I am like him in so many ways. In that regard, thank you for your support and respect of our privacy during this time,” Akasha Morrison wrote.
Morrison was a 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and was also co-creator, writer and producer of “One Nation (Under A Groove)” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Parliament Funkadelic, according to juniemorrison.com.
In the 1970s and 1980s, southwestern Ohio — particularly Dayton’s west side — was known for its stable of funk bands whose influence can be heard in hip-hop, house and other musical forms popular today.
Morrison inspired singer Solange’s recent song “Junie” on her 2016 “A Seat at the Table” album.
Gregory Webster, the original leader of the Ohio Players, said Morrison, who was hired into The Ohio Players shortly after he graduated from Roosevelt High School.
“He was really friendly,” Webster said of Morrison. “He was young, but we got him together.”
Longtime WDAO radio show host John “Turk” Logan said “Pain” — a song Morrison wrote, produced and played most of the instruments on — was the first “funky” song from a Dayton group that he played.
Logan managed Morrison for a short time after he left the Ohio Players.
“Junie was an extraordinary talent. The guy had a sixth sense about the music business,” said Logan, a 1968 Roosevelt graduate. “Junie was a handful because he was a genius.”
Dayton musician Ronald Frost of the band The Deele said Morrison was a critical member of The Ohio Players.
“When Junie came, that’s when they became extra funky,” Frost said.
Frost’s father Ronald “Nooky” Nooks played with The Ohio Players sometimes after Morrison left the band in 1974 for a solo career.
He released three solo albums on Westbound Records.
Frost was a big fan of Morrison’s work.
“Junie was just a different kind of musician. He was totally incredible,” Frost said.
Morrison was induced into the Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center based in downtown Dayton last year.
Hall of Fame president David Webb said Morrison was a great musician who supported preserving funk’s heritage.
“We are praying for his family,” Webb said.
Response on Facebook to word of the funk legend’s passing was swift.
“Junie Morrison WAS funk to me and many others,” one comment read.