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Blues > Motor City Cribs and Rides

Motor City Cribs

Way-out wah-wah man Dennis Coffey comes home

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Published 10/11/2006

Legendary session guitarist Dennis Coffey has probably spent more time playing in Detroit studios and clubs than you’ve spent sleeping. During his heyday in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Dennis would play as many as 18 sessions a week and do a few live gigs on top of that. His tripped-out wah-wah guitar on the Temptations’ "Cloud Nine" in 1968 influenced soul for years to come. He went on to record several classic (and criminally unreleased on CD) heavy funk albums on his own, including Hair and Thangs (1968) and Evolution (1970). The hit single from Evolution, "Scorpio," went on to be sampled more times than the free cheese displays at Whole Foods.

Born and raised near the old University of Detroit campus (before the Mercy merger, even before the Lodge ran nearby), Dennis lived in Los Angeles and New York City after Motown left Detroit in 1972. He returned home in 1982 and settled in Farmington, where he has lived since, making his bread and butter outside of music, though he still plays. "Detroit is a great city for music — period," he says.

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