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This article is about the musician; for other James Griffins or Jimmy Griffins see James Griffin (disambiguation).

James Arthur Griffin (August 10, 1943 – January 11, 2005) was a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with the 1970s rock band Bread.

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Early life

An Academy Award winning songwriter, Griffin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. His musical training began when his parents signed him up for accordion lessons. He attended Kingsbury High School in Memphis and Dorsey and Johnny Burnette were his neighbors and role models. After the Burnette brothers moved to Los Angeles, California to further their music careers, Griffin went there to visit them, and managed to secure a recording contract with Reprise Records.

Career

His first album, Summer Holiday, was released in 1963. He had small roles in two films, For Those Who Think Young (1964) and None But the Brave (1965).

In the 1960s, Griffin teamed with fellow songwriter Michael Z. Gordon to write songs for such diverse singers as Ed Ames, Gary Lewis, Bobby Vee, Brian Hyland, The Standells, Leslie Gore, Sandy Nelson and Cher. The pair won a BMI award for "Apologize".

In 1968, Griffin teamed with David Gates and Robb Royer to form the band Bread (drummer Mike Botts joined on their second album, On the Waters; Larry Knechtel replaced Royer in 1971). They had a number one Billboard Hot 100 hit, with the song "Make It With You". Other hits by Bread included "Baby I'm-a Want You", "If" and "Everything I Own." Although Griffin was a significant contributor to Bread's albums as a writer and singer, every one of the group's 13 songs that made the Billboard Hot 100 chart was written and sung by Gates, a situation that created friction between the two.

In 1970, Griffin and Royer — under the pseudonyms Arthur James and Robb Wilson — wrote the lyrics for Fred Karlin's music for the song "For All We Know," featured in the film Lovers and Other Strangers. It won the Academy Award for Best Song.

After the release of Guitar Man in 1972, Bread went on hiatus. Griffin released a solo album, Breakin' Up Is Easy on Polydor Records in 1974, credited to "James Griffin & Co." Neither the album nor the singles, "Breakin' Up Is Easy," "She Knows," and "How Do You Say Goodbye," made the Billboard charts. Bread reformed in 1976 for one final album, Lost Without Your Love. Gates, Botts, and Knechtel continued to record together on Gates's solo albums, and initially toured as "David Gates & Bread," which led to a lawsuit from Griffin. The dispute wasn't resolved until 1984.

In 1977, Griffin released a third solo album, James Griffin, also on Polydor, with tracks recorded in 1974 and 1975. He teamed with Terry Sylvester on the album Griffin & Sylvester in 1982 and was a member of Black Tie with Randy Meisner and Billy Swan, which released When The Night Falls in 1985, co-produced by T-Bone Burnett. Robb Royer was also credited as a musician on the album. The Black Tie single "Learning The Game" peaked at #59 on the Billboard country chart in 1991. Griffin then joined The Remingtons with Richard Mainegra and Rick Yancey. They released their first single in 1991, followed by the albums Blue Frontier (1992) and Aim for the Heart (1993). Their single, "A Long Time Ago" went top-10 on Billboard's country chart in 1992 with "Two-Timin' Me" cracking the top 20 later that year. Griffin and Gates put aside their past differences for a Bread reunion tour in 1996–1997 with Botts and Knechtel.

Death

Griffin died of complications from cancer on January 11, 2005 at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. He was 61 and had been undergoing treatment for several months. He is survived by his wife Marti, daughters Katy and Alexis, sons Jamey and Jacob and granddaughter Lilli.[1]

References

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