James Harrell "Jimmy" McGriff was an American hard bop and soul-jazz organist and organ trio bandleader who developed a distinctive style of playing the Hammond B-3 organ.
Born in Germantown, Pennsylnvania, McGriff started playing piano at the age of five and by his teens had also learned to play vibes, alto sax, drums and upright bass. His first group was as bassist in a piano trio. When he joined the United States Army, McGriff served as an MP during the Korean War and he later became a police officer in Philadelphia for two years.
Music kept drawing McGriff's attention away from the police force. His childhood friend, organist Jimmy Smith, had begun earning a substantial reputation in jazz for his Blue Note albums (the two played together once in 1967) and McGriff became entranced by the organ sound while Richard "Groove" Holmes played at his sister's wedding. Holmes went on to become McGriff's teacher and friend and they recorded together on two occasions in 1973 for two Groove Merchant records.
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