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Memphis Soul Legend, Howard Grimes, Dead at 80

Howard Grimes in the 1970s. 

Drummer Known as 'The Bulldog,' Recorded Iconic Tracks With Al Green, Ann Peebles and Others

One of the architects of Memphis soul music and the man responsible for the driving beats tying together some of the rhythms behind some of R&B’s greatest artists, Howard Grimes, is dead at 80.

Known affectionately as “The Bulldog” for his persistence and precision behind the drum kit, Grimes death of kidney failure at Memphis, Tennessee’s St. Francis Hospital Saturday (Feb. 12), was confirmed by publicist Nick Loss-Eaton, whose firm did the public relations campaign for the artist's 2021 autobiography “Timekeeper.”

“Heartbroken to confirm the passing of Memphis soul drum legend Howard Grimes (8/11/41-2/12/22),” wrote Loss-Eaton, “a true gentleman and my favorite drummer ever.”

His bandmate in The Bo-Keys, Scott Bomar, also confirmed the death. Speaking to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which reported the musician had been in and out of the hospital since January, Bomar said Grimes was at peace before he passed. “I think what Howard would want people to know about him was that his relationship with his creator, his spiritually, was the most important thing in his life. The second was Memphis music,” Bomar said.

Born in Memphis in 1941, Grimes career as a drummer touched seven decades. As a member of the renowned Hi Rhythm Section — essentially an all-star house band for some of the greatest soul acts of the 1970s for Memphis’ Hi Records — he set the pace for albums by Al Green, Ann Peebles and Rufus Thomas amongst others.

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