Singer/songwriter Jimmy Griffin, best known for his work with 1970s soft rock act Bread, died Tuesday (Jan. 11) at his home near Nashville of complications from cancer. He was 61 and had been undergoing treatment for the past several months.
Griffin was born in Cincinnati on Aug. 10, 1943, and grew up in Memphis. A friendship with brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette led Griffin to follow the them to Los Angeles, where he signed a deal with Reprise. His first album, “Summer Holiday,” was released in 1963. His producer on this project was Jimmy Bowen, who would eventually go on to head the country divisions of Warner Bros., MCA and Capitol Records.
Griffin gained acclaim as a songwriter, securing cuts by Rudy Vallee, Ed Ames, Lesley Gore, Bobby Vee and others. He ventured into acting as well and had small roles in the movies “For Those Who Think Young” (1964) and “None but the Brave” (1965).
In 1969, Griffin joined Robb Royer, Jim Gordon and David Gates to form Bread, with Michael Botts and Larry Knechtel soon rounding out the lineup. The following year, the group’s debut single, “Make It With You,” went No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart. Subsequent hits included “It Don’t Matter to Me,” “If,” “Baby I’m-A Want You,” “Everything I Own,” “The Guitar Man,” “Aubrey” and “Lost Without Your Love.”
Following the breakup of Bread in 1977, Griffin returned to solo recording and songwriting. He also teamed with Terry Sylvester of the Hollies to record as Griffin and Sylvester for Polydor. In the late ’80s, Griffin, Randy Meisner and Billy Swan formed the country trio Black Tie.
In 1991, Griffin, Richard Mainegra and Rick Yancey (the latter two from the group Cymarron) formed the Remingtons and signed to the newly established RCA sub-label, BNA Records. The group’s first single, “A Long Time Ago,” was its most successful, rising to No. 10 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in early 1992.
Griffin made occasional performances throughout the ’90s with Sylvester and John Ford Coley as Soft Rock Cafe. He also reunited with Bread for a successful 1997 world tour and continued to work with Knechtel and Royer professionally. His final studio projects came in July: with Robb Royer and a John Ford Coley-produced pairing with singer Lynn Bryant to record Todd Rundgren’s pop classic, “Can We Still Be Friends.”
Griffin is survived by his wife, Marti, daughter Alexis and son Jacob.