"He Played With Everyone" -- R.I.P. musician supreme John Barnes

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    Photo courtesy of John Barnes official website

    (March 19, 2022) Sometimes, when measuring how prolific a musician is, folks will list the artists with whom he or she has worked. With musician, producer and arranger John Barnes, it would be easier to list the major stars he didn’t work with. We are sad to report that Mr. Barnes has died but he leaves behind an incredible legacy. As his daughter Kristin posted on social media

    He is a very beloved man... Being so loved is an extraordinary blessing. And it can be a challenge at the same time. Especially in times like this. The love & support we are receiving is a beautiful thing. And, at the same time, for me it’s quite overwhelming.

    (March 19, 2022) Sometimes, when measuring how prolific a musician is, folks will list the artists with whom he or she has worked. With musician, producer and arranger John Barnes, it would be easier to list the major stars he didn’t work with. We are sad to report that Mr. Barnes has died but he leaves behind an incredible legacy. As his daughter Kristin posted on social media

    He is a very beloved man... Being so loved is an extraordinary blessing. And it can be a challenge at the same time. Especially in times like this. The love & support we are receiving is a beautiful thing. And, at the same time, for me it’s quite overwhelming.

    Barnes was born in the Watts section of Los Angeles, and was playing music before he was even in school. Over the years he became proficient at multiple instruments, but was particularly known for his work on the keys.

    Signed to Motown right after college, Barnes began working with The Miracles, and, in the mid-70s was called upon by Leon Ware to play on the classic Marvin Gaye album I Want You. His star continued to grow on the L.A. music scene, as over the next decade he became the go-to keyboardist for stars ranging from Whitney Houston to The Temptations to Gloria Gaynor (he plays the opening piano solo on “I Will Survive”), to Chaka Khan to Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, and more. He also produced the two sought after Billy Griffin Columbia albums.

    Perhaps his most famous work was on Michael Jackson’s 1987 monster album Bad, where Barnes was a whirling dervish, arranging and playing all over the discs. And he continued to work with Jackson and his brothers for the next two decades. He was also there in the middle of things for the recording of the iconic “We Are The World” USA for Africa recording.

    Barnes spent most of the 21st century performing spiritual music, both leading choirs and producing other artists. And even though he had largely moved on from recording with modern popular artists, he was a musician whose name was rightfully spoken in hushed tones – a tremendous artist who played a key role in countless songs of an entire generation. He will be missed.

    By Chris Rizik

     
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