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Born November 16, 1938, Nashville, Tennessee
Died September 24, 2010
Initially a co-owner of a black nightclub in Los Angeles, Griffey moved into music producing and started [l=Soul Train Recording Co.] in a collaborative effort with [a=Don Cornelius]. In 1977, Griffey took sole control of their fledgling record company and renamed it [l=Solar] with groups as [a=Shalamar], [a=Klymaxx], [a=Lakeside], [a=Midnight Star], [a=Carrie Lucas], [a=Collage (3)], [a=Deele, The], [a=Dynasty], [a=Sylvers, The] and [a=Whispers, The]. The label also introduced to the world [a=Babyface], [a=L.A. Reid], [a=Jody Watley] and [a=Howard Hewett], among others. According to an article at Highbeam.com, Griffey entered the entertainment business in the mid-sixties when he discovered the key to business operation: “I started thinking how entertainers come and go, but business people are always here.”
He used his talents first as the booking agent for a highly successful nightclub, which he co-owned with former schoolmate and ex-New York Knicks player/coach Dick Barnett, but he quickly branched out into concert promotions under the company name Dick Griffey Productions. Not content with these achievements, Griffey became talent coordinator for the nationally syndicated television dance program Soul Train. “Concerts were becoming routine to me,” he explains. “When you promote a concert you basically do the same thing every time. I was looking for new challenges.” The Soul Train venture was so successful that in 1975 Griffey and the show’s producer, Don Cornelius, went on to form Soul Train Records. Starting with one small act, Griffey carefully nurtured the label and, after an amicable separation from Cornelius, reorganized the company and founded the SOLAR label in 1977. Griffey and Cornelius remained good friends, and as a result, SOLAR maintained close ties to the Soul Train show. In 1975, when Soul Train Records was founded, Griffey formed a collective called Shalamar, who became one of the label’s best selling acts after Cornelius' help of introducing Soul Train dancers Jody Watley, [a=Jeffrey Daniel] and [a=Gerald Brown] (who was eventually replaced by Howard Hewett) who were recruited to form the new Shalamar. SOLAR’s signature act above all was The Whispers, whose distinct harmonies and carefully-detailed musical and vocal arrangements defined and emphasized the “SOLAR sound”.
By 2000, Dick Griffey Productions had expanded to include publishing companies and talent agencies.