He was a guitarist, songwriter and producer born Donald Franklin Griffin in Baltimore, Maryland, to a musical family where his mother was a pianist, his father was a guitarist, his grandmother and sister sang, his uncle was a jazz bassist and his brother is the successful chart-topping singer-songwriter Billy Griffin.
He played the drums after being given a set when he was thirteen years old but although he played them for several years, he decided to turn his hand to the guitar. This would become the instrument that would find him success as a professional musician and after his brother became the lead singer of The Miracles in 1972 he managed to get an audition to play in their band as a replacement for Marv Tarplin. He was successful in getting the job and remained with them until they split up in the late 1970s.
After the disbandment he took up a position as a touring lead guitarist and session musician for several acts while based in Los Angeles and then carried on his work after moving to Denver, Colorado. He also made inroads as a songwriter when he co-wrote his brother’s “Hold Me Tighter in the Rain” which became a Top 20 hit in the UK in 1983. He began to concentrate on his solo career and moved back to Maryland during the 1990s to continue his own projects.
During the course of his career he lent his talents to many artists such as Sheila E., Richard Elliott, Amy Grant, The Four Tops, Earl Klugh, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Brenda Russell, Marilyn Scott and Maurice White.
The albums he appeared on are many and include Rapture by Anita Baker, Respect by Billy Griffin, Just Like the First Time by Freddie Jackson, Love Crazy by The Miracles and All Systems Go by Donna Summer.
He went back to Denver, Colorado, working as a producer and musician and sadly died there following a car accident in 2015. He was 60 years old.
Here he is…