Happy birthday to the Earl of Funk! Detroit native Earl Van Dyke spent a lot of time around the city's jazz cats, folks like Yusef Lateef, Barry Harris, Hank Jones and others. He met James Jamerson while touring with Lloyd Price, who convinced him to take a job with Motown, then an upstart label.
He started at Motown in '62. He served as the keyboardist on many classic Motown hits for many of its biggest stars, like Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Four Tops, etc. He would open up Motown concerts with his own instrumental trio, usually playing alternate, instrumental versions of Motown hits. Given that Motown were severely underpaying their artists, Van Dyke took the band moonlighting for other labels, backing Edwin Starr on several tunes, as well as The Parliaments on "Testify" and The Capitols on "Cool Jerk", as well as tunes by Dionne Warwick, Jackie Wilson and The Platters.
In '65 Motown released an album for him and his "Soul" Brothers (Barry Gordy thought the word "funk" was offensive, that fuck.) The world now knows this band as The Funk Brothers. He recorded a couple of albums and several singles as a leader. He also gigged around as a jazz organist, including recording some Blue Note sessions with Ike Quebec and Fred Jackson. In the '70s he backed several touring artists in Detroit, including Sammy Davis Jr, Mel Torme and Freda Payne, whom he became musical director for. He continued to play and record a bit, there was another early '80s release, but he never really got his due.