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Joe "Groove" Madison

He was accomplished in the area of the Arts. He later died on 4-2-1995.
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Joe "Groove" Madison was a legendary Buffalo jazz and blues organist. He was a throwback to Buffalo's rich and largely overlooked tradition in blues, soul, and R&B. According to critic, Elmer Ploetz, who wrote in a 1994 Buffalo Magazine article, Madison was one of the musicians that nearly every black artist and a good many white has played with or learned from. Ploetz included him among artists such as Robert "Count Rabbit" Robinson, Matt Nickson, Johnny Soul, Jesse Butler, Barbara St. Clair and King George Alexander.

As a child in Niagara Falls, NY, he learned every instrument he put his hands on and played the piano at his grandfather's storefront church. His father was a musician and always had music playing and musicians over. Madison said that his father "would sit me on his lap and show me a lot of piano." He grew up during the golden age of jazz and rhythm and blues in the 40s and 50s when the local scene was hopping. As a teenager, he grew up to love bebop. But many of his first jobs were with bluesman like Elmo "Spoon" Witherspoon and count Rabbit. He told Ploetz that "at one time, there were always places to lay. On William Street, all down the street was nothing but clubs, and all of ââ?¬Ë?em had bands, four pieces or three pieces. It was like every day of the weekend was a holiday."

It was his mastery of the difficult Hammond B-3 organ, with its distinctive thick bluesy tones that made his reputation. He picked up the knack at the Pine Grill and with it the nickname "Groove" from his being similar to organist Groove Holmes. The organ was love at first sound for Joe, and he was one of the first area players able to handle the instrument. He played for 60s soul sax legend King Curtis touring the nation and playing places like the Apollo Theatre and sitting in with James Brown.

His admirers were legion; Ronnie Foster, keyboard player with George Benson and Stevie Wonder took lessons from him as a teenager. Grover Washington Jr. played with him as a teenager as well.

Joe "Groove" Madison was 58 years of age at the time of his death on April 2, 1995 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.