Joe Hunter, 79
Joe Hunter, a three-time Grammy winner with the Funk Brothers, died Friday in Detroit. The first hire of Motown legend Berry Gordy Jr., he backed up acts such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on piano in the late 1950s. Mr. Hunter also served as Motown's first bandleader in the early days.
The Funk Brothers - celebrated in the 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown - played backup on many Motown recordings. Mr. Hunter's piano work was an integral part of such songs as Martha and the Vandellas' "Heat Wave" and Marvin Gaye's "Pride and Joy."
BILLY HENDERSON, 67 Singer with the Spinners
Billy Henderson, a member of the band the Spinners who sang "I'll Be Around" and other hits, died Friday of diabetes complications in Daytona Beach, Fla. Other Top 20 Spinners hits that included "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," "Then Came You" and "The Rubberband Man."
The five-member band of high school friends formed in 1954 in a Detroit suburb. They had six Grammy Awards and became the second black musical group to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
ERIC VON SCHMIDT, 75 Blues, folk guitarist
Eric von Schmidt, a player in the Northeast's blues and folk scene in the 1950s and 1960s who influenced Bob Dylan, died Friday in Fairfield, Conn. He had battled throat cancer and suffered a stroke last summer.
He met Mr. Dylan at his apartment in Harvard Square, where a folk scene developed with the likes of Joan Baez and Tom Rush.