IN MEMORIAM: Ron Dunbar // Other Notable Musicians Deaths
Ronald Dunbar (born c. 1939 – April 4, 2018) was an American songwriter, A&R director and record producer who worked closely with Holland-Dozier-Holland, and with George Clinton. His co-writing credits include the hit songs “Give Me Just a Little More Time”, “Band of Gold”, and “Patches”, for which he won a Grammy.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, he began working for Motown when it was formed in the late 1950s, and was first credited as a co-writer for the Valadiers’ minor 1961 hit, “Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)”. He continued to work with songwriters and record producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, Jr., in an uncredited capacity, until they left Motown over a financial dispute in 1968. Dunbar remained with the three when they set up Holland-Dozier-Holland Productions Inc., and the Invictus and Hot Wax labels, where he became A&R director. Dunbar began to be credited as a songwriter in his own right, as half of a writing partnership with “Edith (or Edyth) Wayne”. The latter is now acknowledged to have been a pseudonym used by Holland, Dozier and Holland, who were unable to use their own names because they were legally contracted to Jobete, Motown’s song publishing arm. Although it has been said that Dunbar’s name was itself used by Holland-Dozier-Holland to cover their own songwriting activities, Dunbar was quoted as follows:
“They [Holland-Dozier-Holland] helped to develop, by coaching and by directing the writers and producers that they were “mentoring,” and I was one of those people so helped in development. I was given certain projects to write. “Band of Gold” was one of those projects and I came up with the title “Band of Gold” first. My partner, Edith Wayne, and I wrote the lyrics according to how the track was and used the melody structure that we got listening to the track. I was part of the “in-house” team that was being developed at the time. It wound up being a heck of an opportunity for newer writers, like myself and to some other people in getting their careers developed. When I say “newer” I mean people that had some experience but nowhere near the success of the HDH team. It was a great treat to be under the umbrella of H-D-H.”
Lamont Dozier’s recollection differs:
“Brian [Holland] and I came up with “Band of Gold” and “Give Me Just a Little More Time”, but we didn’t put our names on ’em because we were in a lawsuit and couldn’t use our names. So we used Ronnie Dunbar, who was an employee of ours and Edith Wayne, who was a friend of the Holland family….”
Dunbar and Wayne were credited as co-writers on most of the hit records produced by Invictus and Hot Wax, including “Give Me Just a Little More Time” by Chairmen of the Board, which reached #3 in both the US and UK in 1970, and Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold” which reached #3 in the US and #1 in the UK later the same year. Dunbar also co-wrote “Patches” with General Johnson, the lead singer of Chairmen of the Board; the song became a US #4 and UK #2 hit when recorded by Clarence Carter. “Patches” won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1971.
After the Hot Wax and Invictus labels folded in the 1970s, Dunbar worked on independent production projects before joining George Clinton’s Uncle Jam Records as A&R Director in 1978. He also continued as a songwriter, his most successful song being “Agony of DeFeet” by Parliament/Funkadelic, written with Clinton and Donnie Sterling. The collaborations with Clinton continued until 1980, when Dunbar returned to independent production. From 1998 he worked for Holland Group Productions, established by Edward Holland in Los Angeles.
Ron Dunbar Gets His Grammy Back
For those who don’t know, somebody pawned Ron Dunbar’s Grammy for “Patches” on an episode of “Pawn Star”. From Mr Dunbar’s Facebook: Ron Dunbar p-funk days And i finally got my Grammy back. i’ll b posting more pictures current ones my son Baron gave an excellent talk Sunday
Here’s a summary of that episode:
Grammy Awards first given out in 1958
Patches reached #4 on the Billboard singles chart
Rick doesn’t have a clue about the song. LOL. The guy thinks its worth about 15k, but not when its Ronald Dunbar.
Rick wants it but it’s not like it was an artist. Rick is offering this guy a job, he can sell. 😉
The guy says he will sell it for 6000 and Rick offers 1500, ……… $2350
DEAL $2350 this guy can bargain. LOL.
Rick is excited and thinks he can get around $5000 for it.
From Daddyacey: I saw that episode and was saddened and shocked to hell. Forgive my blatent remark, but I can’t say it any other way. I felt it was a muckingfuckin’ shame. I say that because I have seen them and know of people that have awards of this calibre in their possession. Jam Master Jay’s RRHOF statue at his brother Marvin’s apartment, my cousin Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins of Grand Master Flash and The Furious Fives’ RRHOF statue and Gold Record Plaques from my uncle’s work on D Train and Stephanie Mills and Phyllis Hyman projects. It’s not that they are just things or trophys, but what they represent. The importance of what they represent is not understood by a lot of people who should know what they represent, and that’s a sad situation. I remember the story of how James Jamerson cried at receiving his gold plaque for Boogie Fever. He should have had a house full of gold plaques and Grammys.
I’m glad that he (Dunbar) got it back and, if he didn’t have it, then it should have been in some sort of Hall of Fame for Soul or the History of American Music.
* * * * *
Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
11: Dana Haggard (breaking); Timmy Matley, 36, Irish singer (The Overtones), skin cancer.
10: Viliam Karmažin, 95, Slovak composer and conductor, Guinness World Records-holder as longest-career conductor; Yvonne Staples, 80, American Hall of Fame soul singer (The Staple Singers), colorectal cancer.
9: Felix Chen, 75, Taiwanese conductor; Nathan Davis, 81, American jazz musician.
6: Jacques Higelin, 77, French pop singer.
5: Cecil Taylor, 89, American jazz pianist and poet.
3: Ron Dunbar, 77, American songwriter (“Give Me Just a Little More Time”, “Band of Gold”, “Patches”), Grammy winner (1971); Lill-Babs, 80, Swedish singer (“En tuff brud i lyxförpackning”, “Är du kär i mej ännu Klas-Göran?”) and actress, cancer and heart failure; Johan Stollz (nl), 88, Belgian singer, pianist and composer.