By Bob Marovich
Traditional gospel music enthusiast Jordan K. Phillips informed JGM that Herbert “Pee Wee” Pickard, noted organist and pianist who accompanied the Gospel Harmonettes, James Cleveland and the Voices of Tabernacle, and many other gospel artists, passed away today.
Mr. Pickard, a resident of Detroit, was a child prodigy. Anthony Heilbut (The Gospel Sound) told JGM recently that as a preteen, Pickard caught the attention of Lionel Hampton around the time that Dinah Washington was the group’s lead singer. Heilbut laughed that had Pickard joined Hampton and Washington, they would have invented soul music ten years before Ray Charles.
Pickard not only performed for gospel artists, but Heilbut notes that he also played on some Motown Records sides.
Pickard was scheduled to be interviewed for WLUW-FM’s “Gospel Memories” this month, but fell ill before the interview could be conducted. He entered hospice shortly thereafter.
More information on his homegoing will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please remember this significant figure in the history of gospel music.