Grover Washington Jr. Inducted on April 24, 2023
Grover Washington Jr. (December 12, 1943 – December 17, 1999) was an American jazz-funk and soul-jazz saxophonist. Along with Wes Montgomery and George Benson, he is considered by many to be one of the founders of the smooth jazz genre. He wrote some of his material and later became an arranger and producer.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Washington made some of the genre's most memorable hits, including "Mister Magic", "Reed Seed", "Black Frost", "Winelight", "Inner City Blues", "Let it Flow (For 'Dr. J')" and "The Best is Yet to Come". In addition, he performed very frequently with other artists, including Bill Withers on "Just the Two of Us", Patti LaBelle on "The Best Is Yet to Come" and Phyllis Hyman on "A Sacred Kind of Love". He is also remembered for his take on the Dave Brubeck classic "Take Five", and for his 1996 version of "Soulful Strut".
While his first three albums established him as a force in jazz and soul music, it was his fourth album in 1974, Mister Magic, that proved a major commercial success. The album climbed to number 1 on Billboard's R&B album chart and number 10 on Billboard's Top 40 album chart. The title track reached No. 16 on the R&B singles chart (#54, pop). All these albums included guitarist Eric Gale as a near-permanent member in Washington's arsenal. His follow-up on Kudu in 1975, Feels So Good also made No. 1 on Billboard's R&B album chart and No. 10 on the pop album chart. Both albums were major parts of the jazz-funk movement of the mid-1970s.