We've Got Your Back: The 10 Best Backing Bands of All Time
We've got your back — Guitar World's guide to the 10 best backing bands of all time.
07. The Funk Brothers
Unlike the rest of the bands on this list, the Funk Brothers weren't an "official" backing band; their nickname didn't follow an "and" or an ampersand in a band name, and they didn't make their living on the road backing a single artist.
The Funk Brothers were a crew of Detroit-based session musicians who played on most Motown recordings from 1959 to 1972.
As claimed in the opening titles to Paul Justman's 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the Funk Brothers have "played on more No. 1 hits than The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys — combined." And while you might want to head for your iPhone's calculator and dive into Google land to verify that, there's no denying they played on an impressive collection of Motown hits, including "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "My Girl," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Baby Love," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours," "The Tears of a Clown" and "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave."
They can be heard on singles and/or albums by Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, The Temptations (Check out the video below), The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, The Contours, the Jackson 5, The Four Tops, The Spinners, The Originals and other acts.
Although the Funk Brothers weren't quite as fluid an ensemble as Wings or the Mothers of Invention, many musicians have been members of the brotherhood. Core members included guitarists Robert White, Eddie Willis and Joe Messina, Joe Hunter (bandleader), Earl Van Dyke (piano), James Jamerson (bass); Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin (drums), Richard "Pistol" Allen (drums), Paul Riser (trombone), Jack Ashford (tambourine, percussion, vibraphone, marimba), Jack Brokensha (vibraphone, marimba) and Eddie "Bongo" Brown (percussion).
Other notable members include guitarist Dennis Coffey and bassist Bob Babbitt.
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