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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
Thomas Bowles 
Thomas (Beans) Bowles
January 31, 2000
Age 73 
Prostate Cancer 
 
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Bowles helped guide young Motown artists 
 Funeral today to honor father of Detroit's jazz 

                                                          BY MARK STRYKER 

                                   FREE PRESS MUSIC WRITER 

                                   Friends painted a portrait of saxophonist Thomas 
                                   (Beans) Bowles as a gentle giant of Detroit's 
                                   music scene on the eve of his funeral today. 

                                   Bowles, who died last week at age 73 after a long 
                                   battle with cancer, was remembered Friday as a 
                                   man whose musicianship, professionalism, warm 
                                   heart and historic work in the studio and front 
                                   office at Motown Records made him the spiritual 
                                   father of Detroit's jazz scene. 

                                   "He would always tell me, 'Man, you can be as 
                                   great as you want to be,' " remembers Marcus 
                                   Belgrave, the international trumpet star who has 
                                   lived in Detroit since the 1960s. "That helped me 
                                   when I was struggling. It gave me that lift that I 
                                   needed." 

                                   Bowles died last week at age 73 after a long 
                                   battle with cancer. Funeral services are at 11 a.m. 
                                   today at Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. 
                                   Adams. A band led by longtime Bowles associate 
                                   Teddy Harris Jr. will perform during a family hour 
                                   at 10 a.m. 

                                   Bowles was not a flashy soloist, and he certainly 
                                   wasn't a household name such as Stevie Wonder, 
                                   Marvin Gaye and the other Motown stars whose 
                                   records he graced with his saxophone and flute 
                                   work. But if most people didn't know Bowles by 
                                   name, they knew him by sound. 

                                   He wrote the melody for the smash hit that 
                                   launched Wonder's career, "Fingertips Pt. 2," and 
                                   his smooth flute or resonant baritone sax added 
                                   his personality to Gaye's "What's Goin' On," the 
                                   Supremes' "Baby Love" and Martha and the 
                                   Vandellas' "Heat Wave." 

                                   Motown insiders say that Bowles was an unsung 
                                   hero behind the scenes during the early days of 
                                   Berry Gordy's company, when Motown was less 
                                   an empire than an experiment. It was Bowles who 
                                   originated the idea of the Motortown Revue, 
                                   which took Motown's young talent on the road, 
                                   spurring record sales and jump-starting careers. 

                                   In the early '60s, Gordy brought Bowles into his 
                                   fledgling company in the artist management 
                                   division, where he mentored dozens of the label's 
                                   young stars -- Wonder, the Supremes, Martha 
                                   Reeves, the Temptations, the Marvelettes and 
                                   Gladys Knight. Bowles chaperoned their tours, 
                                   taught them the ropes of show business and how 
                                   to behave on the road. 

                                   "I called him a mother hen for the girls and a father 
                                   figure for the boys," said Esther Gordy Edwards, 
                                   founder of the Motown Historical Museum. 

                                   Bowles -- nicknamed String Bean, later Beans, 
                                   because of his lanky, 6-foot-5 frame -- was born 
                                   in South Bend, Ind. He took up the clarinet at 
                                   about the age of 9 and was working professionally 
                                   as a saxophonist at age 16. He came to Detroit in 
                                   1944 to attend Wayne State University. He later 
                                   toured with such musicians as Illinois Jacquet, Bill 
                                   Doggett and Lloyd Price. 

                                   In the 1960s, Bowles led a Detroit band called the 
                                   Swinging Dashikis, which often backed up 
                                   Motown acts. He also served as chairman of the 
                                   Graystone Jazz Museum in Detroit. 

                                   "He had one of the most unique baritone sounds 
                                   you'll ever hear," Belgrave said. "It was so rich. 
                                   He could light up a band with his sound. It was 
                                   like his personality." 

                                   MARK STRYKER can be reached at 
                                   313-222-6459.

    
  Stevie Wonder Sings at Funeral

DETROIT (AP) - Motown musician Thomas "Beans'' Bowles got a fitting sendoff at a funeral that drew saxophones, trumpets and trombones - and a performance by Stevie Wonder. 

"This is a celebration of an angel on Earth. It is also a celebration of a true spirit,'' Wonder said during Saturday's funeral for Bowles. The baritone saxophonist died Jan. 28 after a 10 year battle with prostate cancer. He was 73. 

Bowles was a baritone saxophonist who played on several Motown hits and helped design the traveling Motown Revue. 

During services at Central United Methodist Church, Wonder played the Duke Ellington song "`Satin Doll'' for the standing-room-only crowd. He said he considered Bowles ``a teacher and also a father.'' 

A group of about 25 musicians, dubbed "The Friends of Beans Orchestra,'' played in front of Bowles casket, leading the family processional in a New Orleans style ceremony. 

 
NY TIMES
        
 
 
       
 

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News Item from last year: 
 Saturday, June 5, 1999
  Friends stage fund-raiser for jazz great
Friends stage fund-raiser for jazz great 'Beans' Bowles
                    
                     By Susan Whitall and Betty DeRamus / The Detroit News


If you're a Motown Records fan, you've listened many times to the work of
        Thomas "Beans" Bowles, the jazz musician, Motown bandleader and Motown 
        Revue chaperone.
        It was Bowles who did bed checks and made sure that Diana Ross and Martha 
        Reeves were in their rooms while out on road trips. 
        The much-loved jazz player is ailing, and a stellar group of his musician friends 
        including trumpeter Marcus Belgrave will hold a fund-raiser for him from 5:30 to
        9 p.m. this Sunday at the Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams, in 
        downtown Detroit. 
        "Beans Bowles was responsible for us being famous by suggesting to Berry Gordy
        to send us all out on a bus and name it the Motown Revue," says Martha Reeves. 
        "He's been an inspiration over the years, and I still call on him when I have local 
        engagements. He is a contractor for the other horn players, he knows 'the cats' 
        and I dearly love him." 
        One of Bowles' best-known arrangements was Stevie Wonder's "Fingertips Part II,"  
        and he was the one who rounded up the rest of the Funk Brothers (the Motown band) 
        for all those sessions at the Motown studio on West Grand Boulevard. 
        Tickets may be bought at the door for $15 or $50. Besides great music there'll be food.  
        Special tickets for a 5:30 VIP reception are available for $100 to $500 as well. For
        more information call Central United Methodist at (313) 965-5422.
        "Beans Bowles was responsible for us being famous by suggesting to Berry Gordy 

        to send us all out on a bus and name it the Motown Revue." 

 
 

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