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Dick Griffin

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Information about Dick Griffin

Profile image of Dick Griffin

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Trombonist
Composer
Painter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon, Grapes, and Pecans
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Wow.

Birthplace

Born:
1/28/1940
Birth Location:
Fannin , Mississippi

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Trombonist
Composer
Painter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon, Grapes, and Pecans
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Wow.

Birthplace

Born:
1/28/1940
Birth Location:
Fannin
See how Dick Griffin is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Composer, trombonist and artist Dick Griffin was born in Fannin, Mississippi in 1940. He began playing the trombone in the seventh grade and sang in a doo-wop group as a teenager. His first professional break came while he was still in high school, when his group, the Sputniks, was selected to open for Sam Cooke. He graduated from Jackson State University in 1963 and later earned his M.S. degree in music education and trombone from Indiana University.

In the mid-1960s, Griffin performed with the Sun Ra Arkestra and began a longtime collaboration with saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. His first album with Kirk was The Inflated Tear, which came out in 1968. Griffin has also worked with many other musicians, including Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson. Griffin released his first album as a leader, The Eighth Wonder, in 1974. This was followed by Now is the Time in 1979, A Dream For Rahsaan in 1985, All Blues in 2003, and Time Will Tell in 2011. He has played at such prestigious events as the 1980 Olympics, and with symphony orchestras such as the Harlem Philharmonic and the Symphony of the New World. He has also performed in several Broadway shows, including The Wiz, Me & Bessie, Raisin, and Lena (starring Lena Horne). He has made television appearances in the United States on shows such as "The Today Show", "Soul", "Faces", "The Ed Sullivan Show", and "Like It Is". In the 1980s, Griffin composed World Vibration Suite, which was premiered by the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

In addition to playing music, Griffin has also served as a professor of music. He has taught at Wesleyan University and the State University of New York at Old Westbury. Griffin is also an accomplished painter. He has had group and solo exhibitions in cities all over the world, including Vienna, Tokyo, and Nairobi.

Griffin lives in New York City.

Dick Griffin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 19, 2014.

See how Dick Griffin is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dick Griffin's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about his parents and his childhood neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin recalls working on a beer truck as a junior high student
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin talks about the origin of his last name
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about his birth and his childhood dog
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt.1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt.2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin describes his mother, Ruby Mae Griffith O'Banner, pt.1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin describes his mother, Ruby Mae Griffith O'Banner, pt.2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about his half siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin talks about his stepfather's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin remembers learning that his stepfather was not his biological father and getting free lunch in school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about his religious upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin remembers listening to a neighbor play the guitar and learning to play piano
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about learning to play the trombone in seventh grade
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin remembers being selected to open for Sam Cooke at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about the State Fair in Jackson, Mississippi, with performers like Peg Leg Bates, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and HistoryMaker B.B. King
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin remembers working as a clerk and butcher for "Mr. Dad," who owned a cafe and grocery store in his neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin talks about his mother's value for education and learning to run a store from "Mr. Dad"
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dick Griffin recalls why his family moved from the Under-The-Hill neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dick Griffin talks about his experience at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Dick Griffin talks about how water moccasins drove his neighbors out from Under-The-Hill
  • Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Dick Griffin talks about his route through white neighborhoods as a student at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Dick Griffin talks about playing trombone and piano in high school, and his band, the Blue Notes
  • Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Dick Griffin talks about his encounters with racial discrimination as a teenager
  • Tape: 2 Story: 17 - Dick Griffin remembers being sent from Jitney Jungle to work in a shoe shine parlor
  • Tape: 2 Story: 18 - Dick Griffin talks about his vocal group, the Sputniks, and his musical elementary school classmate Freddie Waits
  • Tape: 2 Story: 19 - Dick Griffin talks about training his ear for music
  • Tape: 2 Story: 20 - Dick Griffin remembers not receiving a scholarship to attend college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 21 - Dick Griffin talks about his decision to attend Utica Junior College in Utica, Mississippi and his mentor there, Louis Lee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin recalls meeting Sun Ra in Chicago, Illinois and becoming serious about the trombone
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Jackson, Mississippi and his work on voter registration
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin remembers the assassination of Medgar Evers in 1968
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about Sun Ra's band in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin describes Sun Ra
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin describes his musical development under Sun Ra
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin remembers the musicians he met in New York including Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, and more
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about the development of his arrangement techniques
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin remembers meeting Charles Mingus at the Five Spot
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin recounts the time he was almost fired by Charles Mingus
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin talks about his friendship with Charles Mingus
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about earning the respect of Charles Mingus and lying to Charles Mingus
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin describes the musical genius of Charles Mingus
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin talks about Charles Mingus' family background and Mingus' temper
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin remembers working in the Apollo Theater and playing in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about moving to New York, and a missed opportunity to play for John Coltrane
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin recalls his initial interest in multiphonics and the development of his technique
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin talks about his marriage and his son
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin talks about his early musical career in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about how Rahsaan Roland Kirk challenged him as a musician
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin lists the musical acts he saw while playing in the house band at the Apollo Theater
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin shares his memories of working with Rahsaan Roland Kirk
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about Rahsaan Roland Kirk's name change, intelligence, and blindness
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin compares the management of Sun Ra, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Charles Mingus
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about the release of his first album, 'The Eighth Wonder' in 1974 with Strata-East Records
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about the leadership of Strata-East Records and the company's difficulty fulfilling large orders
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about the band he assembled for his first album, 'Eighth Wonder' and his composition process
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin talks about his composition, 'World Vibration Suite,' jazz v. classical trombone, and playing with the Symphony of the New World
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin talks about his string quartets commissioned by Max Roach, which premiered at the 2011 Vision Festival
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about his early affinity for art and his renewed interest in art as an adult
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin describes how the death of Freddie Waits inspired him to take his painting seriously
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about his early art career and teaching career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about the launch of his career as an artist after receiving a master class from HistoryMaker Edward Clark
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin recalls his art training and reentry into the art world after a yearlong hiatus
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about playing for musical greats like Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Frank Foster, and Lena Horne
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about working on a beer truck as a teenager and his relationship with Thelonious Monk
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about musicians at the Village Vanguard
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin talks about his good friend and mentor, Donald Byrd
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about his artwork
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin describes the importance of creating boundaries between music and art
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about seizing life's opportunities
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about the economic factors behind demographic shifts in jazz
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin talks about creativity and innovation in gospel, blues, jazz, and hip-hop music
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about jazz musicians in academia
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about how he would like to be remembered and his values
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin plays his trombone
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin narrates his photographs