Funk Brother Jack Asford

Jack Ashford (born May 18, 1934), known to his friends as Jashford, is an American musician widely known as the percussionist for Motown Records’ in-house Funk Brothers band during the 1960s and early 1970s. Ashford is most famous for playing the tambourine on hundreds of Motown recordings.

Instruments he is known to have played are the tambourine, vibraphone, marimba, maracas, cabasa, bells, chimes, bell tree, finger cymbals, kazoo, triangle, wood block, handclaps, foot stomps and hotel sheet. His definitive performance is on “War” by Edwin Starr. Other notable songs Ashford played tambourine on include “Nowhere to Run” by Martha & the Vandellas, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, and “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Thelma Houston. He played vibes, shakers, and the marimba on Motown recordings such as The Miracles’ “Ooh Baby Baby”.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Ashford worked closely with singer and songwriter Lorraine Chandler, setting up Pied Piper Productions, and working with her on her own records and those of other musicians in Detroit such as Eddie Parker.

Ashford moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. The early 1980s saw production work from Ashford but it proved to be the end of his career in music. However, in 2014, he made a recent appearance on The Secret Sisters’ second album Put Your Needle Down.

Following the death of Eddie Willis in August 2018, Ashford is one of the last two living members of the Funk Brothers, along with Joe Messina.

He is not known to be related to famed singer-songwriter Nick Ashford, who also worked for Motown Records.

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