Two decades after his death, jazz organist Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes is still fondly remembered by many fans. His was a career marked by a high level of comfort in every type of jazz from bluesy and funky to sweet and soft. That diversity and reach even extended to his two main centers of activity, allowing him to become a popular fixture in Eastern jazz circles while also finding success in the world of West Coast jazz.
A New Jersey native who first began to attract some attention in the Philadelphia area in the 1950s, Holmes was inspired by the legendary Jimmy Smith. Within a few years he’d gained enough experience and chops to get a recording contract from Pacific Jazz, and was soon working with the likes of Gene Ammons and Ben Webster.
In 1965, Holmes recorded what would become his biggest seller, a soulful rendition of Erroll Garner’s classic, “Misty.” Although his subsequent efforts didn’t reach that song’s Top Ten status, he continued to hit the recording studio with regularity through the years, at times partnering up with Jimmy McGriff and other jazz stars while producing a number of good records.
In his later years he kept busy performing for his fans even though health problems forced him to do it from a wheelchair. When he died of a heart attack in 1991 he was 60.
Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes – “Misty”