DETROIT (WXYZ) - Maurice Davis, local legendary trumpeter of the Motown Records session band Funk Brothers, died Friday at the age of 71.
Davis recorded over 1,500 songs primarily for Motown Records where he was the lead trumpet for almost 15 years. He recorded and toured with artists such as Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and The Supremes.
Davis is most recognized as the lead trumpet on the three-time Grammy Award winning Temptations song "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," which was ranked #168 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
As he recorded, Davis simultaneously performed for his community as a teacher. Born in Memphis Tennessee in 1941, Davis received a degree from Tennessee State University and began teaching at Rust College in northern Mississippi until permanently moving to Detroit in 1965.
Davis arrived to the Motor City in the early stages of the birth of Berry Gordy's Motown Sound.
Obsessed with jazz, Gordy was aggressive in assembling an in-house band composed of the best and hardworking musicians in Detroit, a group becoming known as the Funk Brothers. The band was a major factor to Motown until 1972 when Berry Gordy moved the label to Los Angeles.
Gordy and the Funk Brothers picked up Davis as a trumpet player after he moved to the Motor City.
Maurice Davis was involved in producer Norman Whitfield's transition of the Motown Sound into a psychedelic soul label. Whitfield placed much emphasize on instrumentation over vocals, which allowed Davis and the Funk Brothers to shine. The Temptations were a major element in this endeavor, including the production of "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone."
Davis also worked on recordings for Columbia Records, A.B.C., C.B.S., R.C.A., and M.C.A. where he performed a trumpet solo on recording group One Way's song "Cutie Pie."
While recording and touring with the time's best acts, Davis continued to teach at Detroit Public Schools for 32 years. He also served on Wayne Sate University's Jazz Staff from 1980-1995. He retired from teaching in 1997.
Outside of playing and teaching music, Davis was an ordained minister. As a pastor, Maurice Davis founded Trumpeting High Praises Community Resources Center in Detroit in 1998. His most recent mission was to organize a 7-day Caribbean Kingdom Workshop Cruise to raise funds to build water wells in Uganda.
Maurice Davis passed away unexpectedly at his Detroit center while preparing for a Community Jazz event on Friday, July 13th.
A home going service is planned for Maurice Davis this Saturday, July 21st at 10 a.m. The service will take place at Second Baptist Church 441 Monroe St., Detroit, Mich. Swanson Funeral Home invites the public to a public viewing on Friday between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. at 14751 W. McNichols, Detroit, Mich.
Davis is survived by his wife of 3 years Gina Davis; son Derrick Davis; daughters Yolanda Gayton and Shanta Tolin; stepson Jon Williams; sisters Fay D. Lee and Dr. Cheryl Jones; and brother Carl Davis.
Davis also leaves behind eleven grandchildren; a host of nieces and nephews, numerous honorary sons and daughters around the world, and many special friends.
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