By Chip Taylor
Paul Griffin – session piano player in New York in the ‘60s
I was a huge fan of the soulful blues/ country playing of Nashville’s Floyd Cramer. When I was first getting my songs published in the early 60s, I searched for somebody in New York who could play from the heart like that to play on my demos. Paul was a huge find for me. He had that same sweet touch as Floyd and could play warm R&B sounds with the best of them.
Although we only saw each other at sessions, I considered Paul a true friend. His wife at the time, Valerie (Simpson), sang background vocals on many of my productions. She later became half of the pop/R&B duo Ashford & Simpson. It was a sad day for me when I found out that Paul & Valerie were divorcing (she would marry Nick Ashford).
Another not well known fact – told to me by Rock & Roll Joe, John Platania – Don McLean tried many times to record “American Pie”. He never hooked it until he hired Paul Griffin. For me, the magic of that track is all about PAUL GRIFFIN’S PIANO PLAYING! It’s time this guy got some of the credit he deserves.
At the age of 62, Paul Griffin died of a heart attack at his New York home on June 26, 2000