Keeping the Funk Alive: Iconic Motown Guitarist Eddie Willis Dead at 82

Soul Source

Eddie Willis was a guitarist and member of the legendary Funk Brothers, who acted as studio musicians for Motown.

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The Funk Brothers were a legendary group of studio sessions who helped craft the coveted ‘Motown sound.’

On Monday, one of the last surviving Funk Brothers Eddie Willis passed away at the age of 82. Billboard reports that Willis had been living in Mississippi with his wife Rose and was battling declining health over the years — the lingering effects of childhood polio that forced him to use a cane for the majority of his life.

He performed regularly with fellow Funk Brother Dennis Coffey, who joined Motown in 1968 and was influenced by the guitar playing of Willis.

Coffey sat down with WDET’s Sam Beaubien to remember his legacy and listen to the tracks that Willis had performed on over the years.

The Funk Brothers were the subject of a 2002 documentary entitled Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

Image credit: Chris Butcher / Public Domain

Aired on: CultureShift
About the Author

Sam Beaubien

Engineer & Producer

Sam Beaubien is a musician, composer, producer, and educator in Detroit. He is also the founder and leader of the acclaimed ensemble, Will Sessions.  


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