Ohio Players Keyboardist and Producer Walter 'Junie' Morrison Dies

Walter "Junie" Morrison, keyboardist and producer for funk band Ohio Players and producer/performer with George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic has died.

Morrison, who was believed to be 62, also worked with British group Soul II Soul, and released solo music under the name BoyInSea in 2011; his death was announced by Dam-Funk, who said Morrison's daughter, Akasha, shared the news. Morrison appeared on Dam-Funk's 2015 Invite the Light album, which kicked off with "Junie's Transmission." 

A spokesperson for Morrison could not be reached for comment at press time to confirm the news, but his death was also announced on the (unverified) Facebook pages for the Ohio Players and Morrison himself. The Roots' Questlove also shared his love for the private Morrison, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 for his work with P-Funk. 

 

The Great Junie Morrison. So inspirational. All the #OhioPlayers westbound era funk that birthed #Voodoo & #BlackMessiah: #Junie. Those adlibs on Hov's "#BrooklynsFinest & #Tribe's #ScenarioRemix is Junie. All the Warner Era #Funkadelic songwriting wizzardry #OneNationUnderAGroove & #UncleJamWantsYou (he co-wrote #NotJustKneeDeep) even #Parliament's #MotorBootyAffair & #Gloryhallastoopid. His ideas birthed and ushered in the G-Funk era (all that synthy #FunkyWorm synth yall associate w gangsta rap/Dre's sound? That's #JunieMorrison. Even his #SuzieThundertussy in its tales of "Lost Angeles" were the backdrop on Ye's bright light for #TLOP's #NoMorePartiesInLA. Solange even gave him props on #Junie ("jump on it" for those that call it the "Jump on it song Dre3000 sings on)---this man was an uncelebrated unsung unchampioned whose ideas we just took and took and took. I regret so much not having a "proper" conversation about his journey. His songwriting. His technology innovations. Man. This STINGS. Rip #Junie.

A post shared by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on

 

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Morrison began playing piano in church at 5 years old, graduating as a teenager to gigs as a orchestra conductor and choir director due to his proficiency on drums, guitar, keyboards and brass, according to his official bio. After high school he started a stint with the Ohio Players, working as an arranger, producer and musical director for the band on such OP hits as "Pain," "Funky Worm" and "Ecstasy." He left the group in 1974 and became a key player in Clinton's P-Funk from 1978-1980, contributing to such landmark albums as One Nation Under a Groove and Motor Booty Affair.

Morrison was shouted out by Solange the day before the release of her Grammy-winning album A Seat at the Table, when she tweeted that he was the inspiration for the song "Junie," which features the lyrics 'You want to be the teacher/ Don't want to go to school/ Don't want to do the dishes/ Just want to eat the food." In October, Morrison told Fader that he was blessed by the shout-out. 

"When she informed me about her song, I was a bit taken aback by the surprise but very appreciative that she wanted to put time and energy into creating it," he said. "She indicated that she had written a song around my vibe and inspiration, and also indicated that it was very long and called, “Junie." Suffice it to say, I was like, WHAAAT???!!!"