Howard Grimes

As a member of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section as well as the Bo-Keys, percussion god Howard Grimes is no stranger to the Ponderosa Stomp, which has featured the Memphis groovemasters on several occasions. The Hi Rhythm Section (also featuring brothers "Teenie," Leroy, and Charles Hodges and Archie Turner on keys) served as the go-to backing band at Royal Studio for Willie Mitchell's post-Stax Memphis soul productions of artists such as Ann Peebles, Otis Clay, O.V. Wright, Syl Johnson, and of course Al Green. Making his recording debut at the tender age of 12 with Rufus Thomas, Grimes started working at Stax (then Satellite) and helped craft its earliest recordings, playing on tracks by Carla Thomas ("Gee Whiz," the label's first hit), William Bell ("You Don't Miss Your Water"), Wendy Rene, Prince Conley, and the Mar-Keys. Grimes disputes the oft-told story that Booker T and the MGs drummer Al Jackson had been his mentor: "A lot of [rumors] have come out over the years. Someone said that Al Jackson tutored me. Al Jackson never tutored me — I was before Al Jackson." Jackson, however, was recruited to play on several Al Green tunes, sometimes in tandem with Grimes, Mitchell has revealed. At any rate, by the time the Hi Rhythm Section had reached its mid-'70s peak, their languid, dreamy grooves became a signature that helped propel the careers of Green and others and produced nearly 20 gold and platinum albums and singles.

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