Remembering a Great Legend and Friend: Pee Wee Ellis
Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis, the musical giant who was Fred’s brother. since 1968, passed away yesterday, Sept. 23, after suffering a heart attack. “He was a great friend and a great mentor, and he taught me a a lot,” Fred said in the midst of his initial shock and grief. “Most of who I am I learned from him.”
As bandleader for James Brown before Fred, Ellis is considered one of the architects of funk, having co-written and arranged for Brown the landmark recordings “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud-I’m Black and I’m Proud.” The Ellis and Wesley families remained close and shared much love and laughter over the decades, through separate careers that briefly — magically — re-converged in the powerhouse band with Maceo Parker called the JB Horns in the 1990s. Since then Fred and Pee Wee frequently collaborated and played together. A gig at London’s Ronnie Scott’s featuring Fred as a guest had been scheduled for this month. Click here for more photos.