James Herrell, 3 April 1936, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Encouraged by a musical home environment (both his parents were pianists), by the time he left school, McGriff played not only piano but bass, vibes, drums and saxophone. He played with Archie Shepp, Reggie Workman, Charles Earland and Donald Bailey in his youth, but after two years as an military policeman in the Korean War, he decided to take up law enforcement rather than music as a career. This did not satisfy him in the event, and he began moonlighting as a bass player, backing blues stars such as Big Maybelle. He left the police force and studied organ at Combe College, Philadelphia, and New Yorks Juilliard School of Music. He also took private lessons with Jimmy Smith, Richard Groove Holmes and Milt Buckner, as well as from classical organist Sonny Gatewood.
His career first took off with the single I Got A Woman in 1962, and he had a string of...
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