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As a child in St. Louis, he learned guitar from his father, and was playing professionally at 13. In 1960, he moved to New York, and his R & B influenced sound made him a natural for the soul-jazz movement of the time. He played with Jack McDuff, Larry Young, and many other organists, and became popular in the organ trio format. After being away from music for a time due to a serious drug problem, he returned in the late 60s and the 70s, and played with Stanley Turrentine, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock and many others. Sadly, he suffered from poor health due to his drug addiction, and he was hospitalized in 1978 and died in 1979 at only 47. Since his death, much of his work has been reissued on CD for a new generation. Also, his son and namesake has grown up to be a professional guitarist and recording artist of considerable promise and skill.