Outside Of The Box With Howard Grimes

Hey y’all, George here…I wanted to talk to you a little bit more about my dear friend, Howard Grimes, one of the greatest Big Beat drummers to ever walk this Earth and a personal mentor. In a recent phone conversation with him, I asked how he was and what he was up to and his response was simply amazing…

“My wife is doing the laundry right now and I’m sitting here listening to the washing machine. It’s got this rhythm going, cha-chunk, cha-chunk, cha-chunk. And the ceiling fan is on above me and it’s going, womp, womp, womp, womp. I’m trying to figure out how to make these two rhythms work with each other and when I do, I’mma put ’em both on somebody’s record and it’s gonna be a hit!”

This was not the first time he’d told me something like this but I was grinning from ear to ear because Howard Grimes has always played outside of the box and is one of my favorite drummers on the planet. Just go listen to Al Green’s, Love & Happiness or Ann Peebles, I Can’t Stand The Rain and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. These are not your ordinary, run of the mill R&B grooves and this man is certainly no ordinary player. For example, you’ll notice his hi-hat sound is way up front, super fat in the mix and when I asked him what he was using, he said, “Those are 16″ Zildjian crash cymbals”. He’s had them since the 70’s. Howard was also using a 22″ rivet ride back then, very uncommon in R&B and you can hear it on William Bell’s, You Don’t Miss Your Water. It’s so good.

From the beginning of his career, he has thought of things very differently and approached the drums like no other. He began playing when he was six years old when he met a drummer/cab driver named Murray who gave the youngster a pattern Howard said was called the Mama Daddy Roll, which turned out was L-R-L-R-LL-RR-LL-RR, a single-stroke roll into a double-stroke roll. Howard once asked if I knew the Mama Daddy Roll and I had to tell him that I did not but I would go home and learn it. He’s a really funny, good-natured man.

There’s a song on Al Green Is Love titled, Oh Me, Oh My which features a killer groove from Howard that apparently was the rhythm Popeye made when he would run across the screen in those old cartoons. How many people do you know get their musical ideas from watching Popeye or listening to washing machines and ceiling fans? There’s no one like Howard Grimes, y’all.

Just listen to this tune…

George Sluppick Written by:

George Sluppick is an American drummer born in Memphis, Tennessee, specializing in blues, funk, soul and R&B music. In 1986, he graduated from Overton, a prestigious creative & performing arts high school, where he studied music theory, sang 2nd tenor in the concert choir and played drums for their award-winning gospel choir. Growing up in Memphis, he shared the stage with many legends, including BB King and Rufus Thomas and just one year after his high school graduation, he went on the road with blues guitarist, Albert King, which opened many doors allowing him to become a full-time musician. George was 19 years old. He moved to San Diego, California in 1991 and quickly became a major player in the local music scene, which included a two-year gig drumming with 50's revivalists, Sha Na Na, touring the U.S. and Japan. During their second Japanese tour, they recorded a live album which he is featured, titled Sha Na Na: Live in Japan, (Sony). In late '99, he began touring with Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, which lasted for three years and he is featured on Giving up the Ghost, (Magnatude). In 2003, he began drumming with North Florida's MOFRO with whom he spent nearly five years touring the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia and is featured on three of their albums: Blackwater, Lochloosa and Country Ghetto (Alligator). Between 2006-2010, he toured and recorded with Memphis soul-jazz trio The City Champs, releasing two studio albums, The Safecracker and The Set-up (Electraphonic). In 2006, he teamed with soul singer Ruthie Foster to record her critically acclaimed CD, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, (Blue Corn) produced by Malcolm "Papa Mali" Welbourne. In the spring of 2008 George helped score the film, Gospel Hill alongside Memphis producer, Scott Bomar. He played drums for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood from 2011 till 2015. During this time, the band recorded three studio albums...Big Moon Ritual, The Magic Door and Phosphorescent Harvest (Silver Arrow), as well as two live albums, Betty's Blends, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Silver Arrow). George moved back to Memphis in 2016 and is currently keeping an active schedule, gigging, recording & teaching.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.