Revered in soul-jazz circles, Richard Groove Holmes was an unapologetically swinging Jimmy Smith
admirer who could effortlessly move from the grittiest of blues to the most sentimental of ballads. A very accessible, straightforward, and warm player, Holmes was especially popular with Black listeners and was well respected on the Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey circuit by the time he signed with Pacific Jazz in the early '60s. He started receiving national attention by recording with such greats as Ben Webster
and Gene Ammons
. Best known for his hit 1965 version of "Misty," Holmes engaged in some inspired organ battles with Jimmy McGriff
in the early '70s before turning to electric keyboards and fusion-ish material a few years later. The organ was Holmes' priority in the mid- to late '80s, when he recorded for Muse (he also had stints throughout his career with Prestige Records and Groove Merchant).
Holmes was still delivering high-quality soul-jazz for Muse (often featuring tenor titan Houston Person) when a heart attack claimed his life at the age of 60 in 1991 after a long struggle with prostate cancer. He was a musician to the end, playing his last shows in a wheelchair. ~ Alex Henderson & Steve Leggett, Rovi