George Rountree, piano; Richard Armstrong, bongos; Darryl Moore, bass; Atiba King, cornet; Leonard King, drums; Adelphia Hill, trumpet; Gregory King, alto sax. April, 1966, WWJ-TV studio,   Detroit, Michigan.

Leonard King and the Soul Messengers began as a family band featuring Leonard (drums), Gregory (alto sax), and Atiba, his birth name was Larry before he changed it, (cornet). At first we called ourselves the Kings of Rhythm, obviously because of our last name. Soon afterwards we we called ourselves the Jazz Sextet. This initial phase happened between 1960-62. In mid-1962 our group expanded to include Adelphia Hill, trumpet, Richard Sims, tenor sax, and Darryl Moore, bass. In the fall of 1963 Richard Sims left and was replaced by Charles Eubanks on alto sax. Since the group already had three horn players, Eubanks suggested that he play piano, in which the members readily agreed. By mid-1964 he left to join The Six Lads who were mentored by pianist Harold McKinney. Immediately afterwards George Rountree replaced Eubanks as the pianist. This personnel stayed intact until the fall of 1966 when Frank Garcia replaced Moore as the bassist. In those days we performed for all kinds of social events throughout the metro Detroit area.

We attended Southwestern High School in Detroit and it was here where we met famed pianist/organist Earl Van Dyke who was invited to be one of the judges at our school talent shows. In December, 1967 he invited us to attend one of the Blue Monday presentations at the Chit Chat Lounge on Detroit' s west side. We had the honor of playing the instruments that belonged to the house band--the now-famous Funk Brothers(Earl Van Dyke, Robert White, guitar, James Jamerson, bass,  Uriel Jones, drums, & Dangerous Dan Turner, tenor sax (however, during the evening that we performed Eli Fountaine Sr. was there playing alto saxophone). This is the band that played for all of the Southwestern High proms from 1965-69 (ain' t that somethin'). Oh by the way, there were only FIVE Funk Brothers--the guys mentioned above. All others were Motown studio musicians. The movie doesn't tell the real story at all!!

In September, 1967 Adelphia Hill left and was replaced by Jimmy Nash, trumpet. In December of that year (shortly after the Chit Chat gig) I was drafted in to the U.S. Army and I left Detroit on January 22, 1968. The group stayed intact during my absence of 3 years (yes, I was tricked in to signing on for an extra year but that's another story for a book, perhaps!!). Ralph Todd joined the group as the guitarist in February, 1968. The basic original core of the group stayed intact until July 1969 when Frank Garcia left and the bass chair changed at different intervals. I returned to the group after my Army discharge on January 25, 1971. On my return the personnel included my brothers, Ralph Todd, Tim Allison-trumpet; William Wooten-organ; Warren Phinizee-bass; Lindsay Brooks-vocals; and myself. This personnel was stable until after the New Year.

In February, 1972 my brothers and George Rountree remained as a group (George left in 1970 and returned in January, 1972). My brothers left in the spring of 72. We had some other replacement horns including Robert & Allan Barnes-tenor saxes, and Edward Brooks-trumpet until late fall when we became an organ trio featuring Mike Johnson, guitar, George, and myself in November, '72. We eventually disbanded in March, 1973 after a great ten-year run. On October 11, 2003 Leonard King and the Soul Messengers were inducted into the Motown Museum as "Men Of Motown" as a result of us being being signed to Inferno Records in Detroit which was bought by Motown in April, 1968.

At the present time only three of the original core members are still active in music. George Rountree is still the music director for the Four Tops. Adelphia Hill retired from the U.S. Air Force Band but still plays. Greg returned to playing after retiring from the Ford Motor Company in 2008. . I've been touring the world with saxophonist James Carter in addition to performing with Oopapada featuring Robert Tye-guitar, and Chris Codish-organ; and also as a member of The Southpaw Isle Steelband.

©Copyright 2001-2014 Strata Nova Productions, Inc.All Rights Reserved


©Copyright 2001-2014 Strata Nova Productions, Inc.All Rights Reserved