RIP Howard Grimes

Feb 12, 2022

Sad to hear the news that legendary Memphis drummer Howard Grimes has passed. What a resume this guy had! He started playing professionally around Memphis when he was twelve, started recording for Stax and Hi in his teens, and when the great Al Jackson Jr. was killed in 1975, took over as the drummer of the Hi rhythm section, playing on more soul and funk records than you can shake a stick at.

In recent years he was the drummer of the Bo-Keys, a Memphis soul band made up of some young dudes (headed by my friend Scott Bomar) and some of Memphis’s soul survivors from the Mar-Keys and the Bar-Kays. If you ever saw Howard play, you knew what you were hearing—a real master of feel, beat, and tempo. Even when he was playing something really simple, it felt RIGHT, absolutely in the pocket (something that fellow Memphis drummer J.M. Van Eaton shares with Howard).

I got to record several sessions with Howard and the Bo-Keys, including a single under my own named that I called “Country Meets Soul,” and a four-song EP with Nikki Hill that we called “Soul Meets Country.” Howard was an absolute joy to work with. Whatever you threw at him, he would give you a drum track that exceeded your expectations. Damn, he was cool. I’m so glad I got to work with him.

Condolences to Scott Bomar and all the other Bo-Keys. A huge loss to the Memphis music community.