January 14, 2005 by

Jimmy Griffin

40 comments

Categories: Musicians

James Arthur Griffin, an Academy Award-winning singer/songwriter and guitarist who was also a founding member of several soft rock and country bands, died on Jan. 11 from complications of cancer. He was 61.

Born in Cincinnati and reared in Memphis, Griffin moved to Hollywood, Calif., in 1962, with hopes of breaking into the music business. He released a solo debut (“Summer Holiday”) and several pop singles, then joined forces with keyboardist/vocalist David Gates and guitarist/vocalist Robb Royer to form the soft rock group Bread.

Bread released a self-titled debut in 1968, but it failed to attract much attention. The band’s sophomore release, “On the Waters,” went gold and featured the chart-topper “Make It With You.” Several hits followed, including “If,” “Mother Freedom,” “Baby I’m-a Want You” and “Everything I Own.” In 1973, Griffin left the band due to creative differences with Gates. He rejoined three years later, but more fighting ensued, and Bread soon disbanded amidst rancor and lawsuits.

Although Gates penned most of Bread’s hit songs, Griffin was a talented songwriter in his own right. He wrote the county song “Who’s Gonna Know,” which became a hit for Conway Twitty, and shared a 1970 Oscar for best original song with Royer and Fred Karlin. The trio co-wrote “For All We Know” for the film, “Lovers and Other Strangers.” The song was also a Top 5 hit for The Carpenters.

Griffin later released a second solo album (“James Griffin”) and formed the country band Black Tie with former Eagles’ bassist Randy Meisner and singer Billy Swan. He and the country band, the Remingtons, scored a Top 10 single in 1992 with “A Long Time Ago.”

Bread Download MP3s by Bread

40 Responses to Jimmy Griffin

  1. Richard Sully

    Very sorry to hear of Jimmy’s passing. It must have been pleasing for him to know the great pleasure he brought a great many people around the world. I only saw him perform once – in Bristol, England on Bread’s 25th Anniversary Tour some years ago.The concert remains in my memory as one of the best I have attended. Being a musician myself, I was able to play ‘For All We Know’ in tribute to Jimmy during a performance at The Savoy Hotel in London on the evening he died. He will be missed greatly by many.

  2. Steve Chapman

    I was very saddened to hear of Jimmy’s Passing.
    The First Concert I ever Went to was a Bread Concert in 1977. I followed Jimmy’s Career as he continued on into Country Music. He was a Great Talent. at the Radio Station where I work we played For All We Know in tribute to Jimmy and on Our Country Station Nobody Loves you when you’re Free by The Remingtons. Jimmy shared his music and touched many in the process. he will be greatly missed.

  3. Mike Allgeier

    I too was saddened to hear of Jimmy’s passing. I was fortunate to be an assistant engineer for some of his sessions when he moved back from CA to Memphis in the early 80’s. Marti, his wife was then the secretary (but not his wife at the time) at the studio I was interning at. He really was a great talent and an extremely nice guy. I followed his career up through the Remingtons and was always awed at the smooth strong tone he had.

  4. Marcia A. Santos

    I’m a big James Griffin’s fan from Brasil, I’d like to say that, till now, It’s hard to accept he passed away; I’m devasted .Jimmy was the nicest person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing; always so kind, always so friendly. It hurts to know I will never get to see him again. I already miss him so much.He and his music will be in my soul and in my heart forever.James, my idol,thank’s so much for the music, for the gladness, for the happiness you gave to my life ; wherever you are now, be immensely happy.

  5. leroy rogers

    i met jimmy back in the 70’s through a neighbor of mine.i was with a working group in las vegas,”westwood”,in a recording session.we needed a great song to try and get a hit.i called jimmy,he said come on up,and he let me pick one of his unrecored song’s.i choose one called let me go.i want go into the details of the record biz.,but i will never forget jimmy’s kindness in wanting to help someone .i met him on a few differnt occasion and i’m sad to say that will never be again.a fan and a friend from the old day’s.leroy rogers

  6. Jim Redman

    I was very fortunate to hear Jimmy in concert in his birthplace of Cincinnati, OH at Music Hall during the Reunion World Tour of Bread during the late 1990’s. I also had the opportunity to meet his Aunt and Uncle who came to listen to him as well. They were so very kind to me and invited my wife and I to go the hotel across the street to meet the group and Jimmy personally. Unfortunately we could not do it because we rode with another couple who had to get home immediately.
    I am from Dayton, OH and remember my high school days in the early 1970’s when I would sing Jimmy’s parts on the Bread tapes to my girlfriend as we rode in my car. I really felt I captured his voice well and I still sing the same songs today for my wife while still “Truckin down the Highway”.
    My sincere prayers go out to all of Jimmy’s family and friends. I also pray for God’s peace for Jimmy’s soul where he has comforted all of ours.

  7. aldo delgado

    realmente , me ha conmocionado la noticia del Fallecimiento de James Griffin de BREAD, siempre lo he admirado por su versatilidad como musico, a su familia le doy mi mas sentidas condolencias.
    Aldo Delgado A.
    Lima.Peru

  8. anne Bartee

    I knew Jimmy Griffin since he was 18 year old and he married my friend Mikki Jamison.. he walked across the street one day when I was sitting with Al Roberts in Winchells and he said ” We am going to start a group called Bread because we need the bread” that was the start of the great career of Jimmy griffin..my friend,, mikki if you are out there email me furgurl@lycos.com.. we shall miss THE PIG.. mikki’s nickmame for jimmy.. time sure goes fast.. anne bartee

  9. anne Bartee

    I spoke with Jimmys wife Marti today..I didn’t know he had died and was shocked ,but jimmy wouldn’t want to have suffered and as I told Marti he did what he was supposed to do and left us..his songs will be forever.. I shall miss you jimmy and I am sure Georgia Kilmurray , Mikki Jamison, al Roberts , Pat Vegas, Stanley Uno and all the gang will never forget you.. love you baby.. anne {the Voice} Bartee furgurl@lycos.com

  10. phil A

    Very sad to read of James’ death.
    Bread were one of the best and most musically accomplished live acts I’ve ever seen. I count myself fortunate to have caught them in the UK in 1997 and also to have chatted briefly to all of them. I was especially grateful to James for the time and trouble he took to chat about the solo album he kindly signed for me.I think he will always be remembered as the guy who complimented David Gates’ music. Thanks James and love to your family and friends. God Bless you!

  11. anne {the Voice} Bartee

    I just found Jimmy Griffins ex-wife Mikki Jamison and she was so sad since “THE PIG” has passed away.. that was Mikkis nickname for jimmy.. I was there with Mikki when Jimmy won his Academy Award and all the other Great things that he did in his short lifetime,, We shall miss you Griffin,, sorry I didn’t get to record with you like we planned.. Bartoo as you called me ,on our last conversation misses the Griffin,, love Anne {the Voice} Bartee furgurl@lycos.com

  12. Doug Austin

    As a long time fan of Bread, and especially of Jimmy’s unheralded songs, I was surprised and shocked to read of his untimely death. It spurred me to go back and listen to all of their albums and inspired me to put together a radio show in memory of him, which will air Monday, June 13th, from 10-midnite Pacific time, on KVMR-FM Nevada City, (89.5 FM locally, or through KVMR.org on the web). I intend to play his best tunes from Bread, and from his first solo lp (can’t find the second one yet) and his Remingtons albums, as well as his Sylvester collaboration AND even from the GYP album that was JUST released, with no cover, only on the web. I have recieved info so far from Mike Botts, but haven’t yet heard back from David–hoping to get a few anecdotes from him. Hope you can listen in.

  13. JANIS JOHNSON

    I GREW UP WITH THE SOUNDS OF BREAD.
    THEIR MUSIC WILL ENDURE EVEN TO THIS
    PRESENT DAY. THEY SAY WHEN A TRULY GOOD
    MUSICIAN DIES. THEIR MUSIC WILL BE IN SIDE
    OF THEM EVEN AFTER THEY ARE LONG GONE!
    MY CONDOLENCES TO JAMES GRIFFIN’S FAMILY
    HE IS HOW SINGING WITH THE CHOIR OF ANGELS
    IN HEAVEN. MAY HIS PEACE BE WITH YOU.
    JANIS JOHNSON

  14. Jim Hughes

    I was very saddened to hear of James’s passing. He was underated as a songwriter and had a terrific voice. I will miss him terribly.

  15. Patti joyce

    I belonged to the Bread fan club in the early 70’s and thanks to e-bay I once again have all their albums as well as David’s & James on vinyl again. What a pleasure to have them again the funny thing is I was a much bigger fan of Davids then but now I tend to like Jim’s more. I felt as though I knew him at least in a creative manner. He was a great talent I’ll miss him. Not sure but I hope David & jim were able to overcome their past discrepancies. That would’ve been a great thing.

  16. chris zack

    I am from Memphis Tn. went to the same high school (Kingsbury) as Jimmy did. His song Lost Without Your Love meant so much to me when my grandmother died. He was such a good writer of music and is so well respected here in Memphis. You will always live on in your music and I will always treasure listening to it. May god bless your family and may your memories and music comfort them always.

  17. Doug

    The first concert I ever saw was Bread in 1972, and I have always loved that music. I always thought James Griffin didn’t get enough credit for the success of the group, and it was his solo album I bought instead of David Gates. I finally got “Breaking Up Is Easy” on CD last year and I listen to it often.
    I am very sorry to hear about Jimmy’s death, and I hope his family is doing as well as could be expected. I suppose I missed the news on it since I was changing jobs and moving when it happened.
    I didn’t know him, but I do have a story I can tell. When I was in college, I heard them play “Breaking Up Is Easy” on the radio and immediately went out to buy it. I couldn’t find it anywhere but the lady at the record store ordered it for me. About a month later, the radio station was doing a live remote for this new store that had just opened, called Wal Mart. Back then, they took the turntable out with them. The DJ was a guy I used to call at the station and ask to play the song so I asked him to play it there. He said he didn’t have it with him, so I went home (just down the block) and got my copy and brought it up there, and he played it on the air!
    At my mother’s funeral, I sang “Everything I Own” acapella, and I will never forget that either.

  18. lorna Neal

    I met Jimmy at Los Angeles City College in the Sixties when we were both taking a music class taught by the pianist Natalie Limonick who Jimmy adored. We became friends (I was a ‘cellist) and I was impressed with his sweetness and dedication.
    I just learned of his death all these months later and remember him not so much from BREAD, but as the talented and beautiful young boy he was. My condolences to all who knew and loved him.

  19. Cuzbro

    Thank you James for the Great Songs! You and David have always been two of my biggest inspirations. Will never let the world forget Bread!
    Just like yesterday you come upon my mind and take it away…And just like at the time the things we did made our hearts skip away…Down on my knees I prayed kind woman dont go astray….
    Well she did anyway but maybe someday she’ll return? Thanks James that song has helped me through it!

  20. jerry chandler

    I knew James from the mid-1950s. We called him Jimmy and Jimbo in those days. His dad, Marvin, one of the nicest guys ever, worked with my best friend’s father. We would see each other at small parties of friends playing 45s and dancing. Jimmy always was a great-looking guy and fun to be around. I recall he used to rub his chin while dancing (the bop, mostly). We missed him when he went to California to try and “make it” in the business. The Burnett brothers, Dorsey and Johnny, also from Memphis, were very encouraging and helpful to James as they had several rock-and-roll/pop hits to their individual credit. Jimmy came back to Memphis a few times and played a few clubs. Ray McElhaney and I always tried to go see him perform. He brought a copy of a movie he was in, thanks to Frank Sinatra, who liked James and assisted in his career. I believe it was “None But the
    Brave.” James had a part in the war flick and had a dying scene. We were thrilled to see our friend on the silver screen. A lot of water passed beneath the bridges of our lives since then, but I got to talk and/or see Jimmy from time to time over the years, especially after he returned to Memphis, living in Hein Park. If he saw me first while out, he always came over to speak and briefly recount a “good ole day” or two. Bread is one my favorite singing groups of all time. I loved all the songs Jimmy wrote and performed. The last time I saw him was during and after he performed in Memphis at a benefit for Ballet Memphis, the Nutcracker Ball. James had graciously accepted when my sister, who hosted the ball that year, contacted him and told him she was my sister(which he remembered). He was terrific! He saw me while on stage and came and joined me at my table later where we strolled down memory lane for about 45 minutes. I enjoyed that visit immensely, as did Jimmy. That was December, 2001. I talked to him briefly one more time via phone a month or so later. Wow, I miss you “Jimbo!” God be with you, my friend!
    Jerry Chandler

  21. jerry chandler

    I knew James from the mid-1950s. We called him Jimmy and Jimbo in those days. His dad, Marvin, one of the nicest guys ever, worked with my best friend’s father. We would see each other at small parties of friends playing 45s and dancing. Jimmy always was a great-looking guy and fun to be around. I recall he used to rub his chin while dancing (the bop, mostly). We missed him when he went to California to try and “make it” in the business. The Burnett brothers, Dorsey and Johnny, also from Memphis, were very encouraging and helpful to James as they had several rock-and-roll/pop hits to their individual credit. Jimmy came back to Memphis a few times and played a few clubs. Ray McElhaney and I always tried to go see him perform. He brought a copy of a movie he was in, thanks to Frank Sinatra, who liked James and assisted in his career. I believe it was “None But the
    Brave.” James had a part in the war flick and had a dying scene. We were thrilled to see our friend on the silver screen. A lot of water passed beneath the bridges of our lives since then, but I got to talk and/or see Jimmy from time to time over the years, especially after he returned to Memphis, living in Hein Park. If he saw me first while out, he always came over to speak and briefly recount a “good ole day” or two. Bread is one my favorite singing groups of all time. I loved all the songs Jimmy wrote and performed. The last time I saw him was during and after he performed in Memphis at a benefit for Ballet Memphis, the Nutcracker Ball. James had graciously accepted when my sister, who hosted the ball that year, contacted him and told him she was my sister(which he remembered). He was terrific! He saw me while on stage and came and joined me at my table later where we strolled down memory lane for about 45 minutes. I enjoyed that visit immensely, as did Jimmy. That was December, 2001. I talked to him briefly one more time via phone a month or so later. Wow, I miss you “Jimbo!” God be with you, my friend!
    Jerry Chandler

  22. Norma Sarkisian

    Oh…those Hollywood days!…
    Mikki and I lived at the Hollywood Studio Club…We decided to move out and rent a place together / Jimmy would spend time at our place / always had the best times / I remember, sitting at our dining room table…trying to come up with a name for his group….
    God bless our memories!!
    Norma in Colorado

  23. Sidney Osborne

    When Jimmy passed away I felt as if a part of me had died… I met him and the group backstage at the Goodhope Centre in Cape Town on 24 October 1996 (also my wife Dianne and my wedding anniversary).
    We spent about two hours talking with Mike, Larry, David and James. The photos I took will be treasured forever!!
    My biggest regret is that the group didn’t put together a video of that tour.
    The magic that was Bread will forever remain in the beautiful and meaningful lyrics that flowed from the pens of David and James. Feel free to visit my blogg dedicated to their music http://breadlover1.blogspot.com/

  24. norma kirk wilhelm

    Today i reminisced with Carol Griffin Jones, Jimmy’s sister, about our Treadwell 50th high school reunion.
    It was last weekend here in Memphis. We had lost contact with Carol and when Jimmy’s obituary was in local paper I drove to cemetary and waited for her to arrive. I previously had no idea she was the sister of the “Jimmy Griffin of Bread.”
    My son danced to Bread’s music in the 70s and I have long owned their Best of Bread I & II.
    Carol spoke of how Johnny & Dorsey Burnett lived across street from the Griffins and Charlie Musselwhite lived next door to Griffins. What a talented street, huh? Memphis is truly the home of some of the world’s finest musicians.
    Carol is lovely and misses her brother greatly.
    I wish I had known him personally. Loved that soft rock sound. We are looking after her Jimmy, rest assured.

  25. Debra

    Today is March 7th 2007 and I only just learned about Jimmy’s death and I’m truly saddened by it. I was just mourning the death of Mike Botts as he was a very special friend to me. I met Bread in 1996 when they toured Singapore. Spent majority of their stay with them and got real fond of both Mike and James. May both their souls rest in peace!

  26. anne {the Voice} Bartee

    Yep .. I shall really miss The Pig,,as Mikki used to call him.. I didn’t know Norma Sarkisian wrote too..yeah we were all pals.. Hey Georgia Kilmurray,, where are you?? Mikki Jamison really loved him and she married jimmy too.. Wish I had recorded with jimmy again.. I recorded his song “My Best Boyfriend” which he wrote for me.. Miss you my friend.. we all do.. love to everyone listed above ,, anne (The Voice} Bartee

  27. Michelle

    My husband and I were both born and raised in New Orleans. We had a traditional wedding in 2003 at the St. Louis Cathedral, and our reception was held at the Bourbon Orleans. Just before we started dating, I purchased the CD, “The Best of Bread.” Once we were dating, my fiance and I listened to it all the time. I gave my fiance, “Bread Anthology” as a birthday gift. When we were planning our wedding, my husband suggested that we dance to “If.” Then it became a toss up between “If” and “Sweet Surrender.” Finally we decided on “If” because it was just so perfect. I swear my husband looks so much like Jimmy, it’s spooky. I was so sad to hear that Jimmy and Mike Botts are no longer with us. Bread was such a talented band. There has never been and never will be anything like them ever. God bless Jimmy Griffin, Mike Botts and their families.

  28. kaye

    Jimmy was a great husband, father, brother in law, son in law and uncle. His family misses him as much today as we did three years ago. Our love for him will never fade. The only peace we have from his passing is knowing how much he loved God, and knowing he is singing in heaven with that beautiful voice. His family will be together again one day. We had 20 wonderful years with him and a life time on memories.
    Sister in law

  29. Brad Long

    I have a copy of the 45 My Baby Made Me Cry by Jimmy Griffin, and of all the thousands of 45’s I own, this is one of my favorites, pure ’60’s pop. I am a musician and love recording this kind of music too. I’ve got two different takes of my attempt on this song, and I think they came out well but I could never do it as well as James/Jimmy Griffin! I play all the parts myself and it is great fun to record, and try to capture the sound of Jack Nitzche, Leon Russell, Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, etc. What great musicians! Someday I hope this 1963 record will be rediscovered for the classic it is.
    And another personal memory for me is of my little nephew – 4 years old – in the studio watching me record the vocal, and he knows all the words and he’s singing along, take after take! He is 19 now – so it’s been around 15 years since I last recorded My Baby Made Me Cry (or as I sometimes sang to confuse my nephew, My Baby Made Me Fry! I would sing that sometimes to see if he was really listening – and he was!)
    I am also a Bread fan and I bought the Griffin and Sylvester LP on Polydor when it came out too. Good music, but I really prefer the early music and I’d like to find the Summer Holiday LP sometime.

  30. evy

    my condolences to his family. i have to say that i have fall in love with james voice i started to listen to their music last year i own the best of bread lp. i was eight years old when bread was a
    hit now i listening to their music everyday. i love you james god be with you.

  31. Brendan

    It was more than 10 years ago that I met Jimmy personally and that memory is still etched clearly in my mind. It was just after watching the Bread concert in Singapore with my wife. We both went to what was then the Marco Polo Hotel for dinner, after the concert, and we couldn’t believe it when Jimmy walked into the restaurant. Obvioulsy we had to say hello to him but never expected him to be so warm and friendly. He stayed and talked to us for a good 15 minutes. He was clearly one of the most unassuming and nicest stars we’ve had the privilege of meeting. Prior to seeing that concert, I always thought it was Gates who was the great voice behind Bread, but hearing Jimmy sing that night it was so clear that without his angelic voice the group would never have been as successful. Thanks for taking the time Jimmy…..

  32. Pamela Windrow Casey

    It is hard to imagine that I just found out about the death of Jimmy Griffin yesterday June 8, 2008. What a shock and how sad. My heart and prayers go out to his family. Like so many others, I love Bread’s music and was/am an adoring fan! Although I never met Jimmy, I recall how I came “this close” to almost meeting him. Back in 1983/84, I lived in Memphis, Tennessee at the Mason Building on Monroe Street in one of the most amazing penthouse apartments overlooking the Missippi River. Since I was being transferred to Chicago, the Mason Building sales office called me to get permission to show the apartment to Jimmy Griffin and I recognized his name. On the very day Jimmy came by to see my place, I came down with the flu. They still showed him my apartment but not the upstairs loft where I was lying sick in bed. I was so disappointed! I could hear him chatting with the agent but missed my only chance to actually meet him. Anyway, I just felt compelled to write and express my deepest sympathies and tell everyone how much his life meant to so many many people. The most touching and profoundly beautiful songs…. God Bless.

  33. CARL BLUE WISE

    I remember his quite Peacefullness . I met Jimmy at a Memphis Studio and Marti was the Secretary.
    WE became friends and He actually recorded one of my songs for me to pitch .We were all trying to figure out the next step in the Music Business. Jimmy was a giver :he gave me lot’s of generous friendship. I grew to love him and of course anyone that knew him Loved him. God Bless his sweet family. I miss you Jimmy.
    CARL BLUE WISE

  34. Kathie Russell

    Surfing the web yet again for James Griffin music, I came upon this website…what beautiful tributes…I fell in love with James and his music when I saw Bread in concert in 1970…have never stopped listening since…these days my heart breaks along with the joy of listening to it…God Bless James’ family…
    Anyone with links to James’ music I would love it if you would email me maxi002@aol.com

  35. Karen Richey

    It is the middle of the night and I could not sleep….my cousin Jimmy Griffin came to my mind and I decided to look him up on the web. He was my brother Danny’s(who too has passsed away) age and would come here to Northern Ky to visit with us in the summers of the late 50’s/early 60’s. Oh, what great memories. He would sing and play his guitar for all the kids in the neighborhood (the girls all had a crush on him). He would play “Summertime Blues” and that soft southern voice would be amazing. He was a truly gifted musician and will be missed forever, but remain in our hearts through his music and wonderful memories. My brother played piano and I know they’re in heaven together “rockin with jest”. I’m so proud to be his “buzzin cousin.” God Bless you Jimmy.
    Karen Sprecker Richey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.