James Griffin

Hit songwriter with the soft-rock group Bread

In the early Seventies, James Griffin was a member of the hit-making group Bread, which bridged the gap between rock and easy listening, a genre that became known as "soft rock". He also co-wrote the Oscar-winning song "For All We Know" (1970), which was made famous by the Carpenters and Shirley Bassey.

James Arthur Griffin, singer and songwriter: born Cincinnati, Ohio 10 August 1943; married (one son, one daughter); died Franklin, Tennessee 11 January 2005.

In the early Seventies, James Griffin was a member of the hit-making group Bread, which bridged the gap between rock and easy listening, a genre that became known as "soft rock". He also co-wrote the Oscar-winning song "For All We Know" (1970), which was made famous by the Carpenters and Shirley Bassey.

Griffin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1943 but was raised in Memphis. In 1962 he moved to Hollywood and recorded a solo album, Summer Holiday (1963). Griffin wrote for Bobby Vee, Lesley Gore and Ed Ames, but, he recalled, "I was so tired of having my songs recorded by other people who would miss the point or change the hooks or tempo." In 1967 he met Robb Royer and they wrote together, intending to make an album as Pleasure Faire.

Their producer, David Gates, was another promising songwriter and soon they formed a new band. Their first album, Bread (1969), came out to good reviews and included Griffin and Royer's songs "Friends and Lovers", "Could I" and "Any Way You Want Me", their immaculate harmonies contrasting with the heavier sounds of the day.

In 1970 Griffin and Royer were asked to write lyrics to Fred Karlin's music for the film Lovers and Other Strangers. Their song "For All We Know" was performed on the soundtrack by Larry Meredith and it beat contenders from Michel Legrand and Henry Mancini to become an Oscar-winner. It became a US hit for the Carpenters and made the UK Top Ten with Shirley Bassey.

Bread recruited Michael Botts as drummer and made On the Waters (1970), which included the US No 1 "Make It With You", written by Gates. Their next album, Manna (1971) included another potential standard, "If", again written by Gates. Baby I'm A-Want You (1972) included "Everything I Own" and "Diary".

Jack Jones gave the band an easy-listening seal of approval by recording the album Bread Winners, but only two of Griffin and Royer's songs made the album - "Games of Magic" and "Coming Apart". Griffin felt that his contributions were being disregarded, and Bread disbanded after their fifth album, Guitar Man (1972). With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Griffin made a solo album, Breakin' Up Is Easy (1974).

Bread reformed in 1976 for a lacklustre album, Lost Without Your Love, but by then litigation was souring their relationships. A compilation, The Best of Bread, topped the UK album charts and eclipsed Griffin's solo album, James Griffin (1977).

Griffin teamed up with Terry Sylvester from the Hollies for another harmony-based album, Griffin and Sylvester (1981). In 1986 he joined Billy Swan and the former Eagle Randy Meisner for an album as Black Tie, and in the 1990s worked with Richard Mainegra and Rick Yancey of Cymarron as the harmony band the Remingtons.

In recent times, he had been working as part of Griffin, Sylvester and Coley, the third member of the group being John Ford Coley.

Spencer Leigh



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