October 30th, 2014

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This is the introduction to my blog series. I will answer questions here that my fans have asked me over the years.

Here is a list of the musicians who played on Scorpio.

Motown Funk Brothers

Bob Babbitt – Bass
“Bongo” Eddie Brown – Congas
Jack Ashford – Tambourine
Earl Van Dyke – Piano
Uriel Jones – Drums
Richard “Pistol” Allen – Drums
Dennis Coffey – Rhythm Guitar

The Detroit Guitar Band

Ray Monette (Rare Earth) – Guitar
Joe Podorsic – Guitar
Dennis Coffey – Guitar

Additional Personnel

Mike Theodore – Producer
Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore – Arrangers
Dennis Coffey – Song Writer
Recording Engineer – Jim Burzzese
Recording Studio GM in East Detroit
Mixing Studio – RCA in New York
Mixing Engineer at RCA in New York – Ray Hall

I was playing every day at Motown and decided to use members of the Funk Brothers on my record. I didn’t need the Funk Brother guitarists because I had decided to play all the rhythm guitar parts and I had the Detroit Guitar Band members to play the melody with me. I wrote the melody out like I would write horn parts in three sections. I later overdubbed the low trombone part on a Fender bass through a Wah Wah pedal. Does anyone else have stories about working at recording studios in Metro Detroit back then?


  1. jack farrell says:

    Still one of the best instrumentals ever!

  2. Groovy says:

    What about Break? Was there any sense at the time to include in an instrumental piece something more “instrumental than instrumental” within the instrumental ??? What do we call and know by “Break” in the songs? (Due to Hip-Hop). Why an instrumental part in the middle of music? Even in other songs such as Ride Saly Ride, Black Belt Jones, Son of Scorpion… An excerpt with soloing, playing or simply drums and bass?
    I realized that this was something common. Many of his songs have been sampled, and the most used part is just the “Break”, even though his music is totally instrumental, the part with more emphasis on percussion and bass.
    From where came the idea of creating this section with more than 1 minute… I’m dj in Brazil and I have these curiosities.
    Thank you and sorry for my English !!

    • dennis says:

      Hi Groovy. I got the idea of breakdowns from Motown Producer Norman Whitfield. He was a master of dynamics and breaking a song down and building it up again especially on the Temptations. The breakdown on Scorpio and the great bass solo by Bob Babbitt just happened when I broke the song down and added a percussion break. D.

  3. Barbara Felton says:

    You did the damn thing, Dennis. We are still jamming to Scorpio all these years later. It is truly a funk classic. Anyone with an ounce of soul would have to get up and cut the rug when this hit the turntable. Each and every musician “kilt it”! Thank you.

  4. Brandon says:

    Hey Mr Coffey I heard about Mr Eddie Willis passing from Mr Jack Ashford it’s a very sad occasion long live his legacy and my prayers go out to his family,friends and his funk brothers

    • Thanks Brandon. Eddie was one of the funkiest guitarists out there and a nice guy too. Drummer Drew Schultz put on a benefit at the club I work at for Eddie and raised $600. Eddie didn’t play but I did.

  5. Ted says:

    Hi Dennis,
    I see that you played guitar on the Precision’s tunes. For a long time I have been curious to know who played Bass on those sessions. To me it sounds like Jamerson or Babbit. Was it one of them?

  6. ken schwartz says:

    Hi Dennis,
    I happened to come across Scorpio when I found a drum break in Mike Adams book.
    I was taken by its simplicity but perfect feel.
    Takes place at about 1:10

    I know there was considerable overdubbing…
    But here is my question… don’t know if you remember.

    Is the drummer(s) playing straight quarter notes in the fill.
    The transcription shows eighth notes with the first one accented.
    I could only hear the quarter notes.

    Thank you

    • dennis says:

      One drummer was playing on the high hat with 16th notes and the other drummer was playing the kick pedal to the bass drum and snare back beat. The rhythm section was all done at once. The only overdubbing was me, Ray Monette of Rare Earth, and Joe Pedorsic on guitars as the guitar band. I used nine guitars playing the melody to Scorpio.

      • ken says:

        Dennis.. thanks so much for the quick reply.
        BUT…I am referring to the break at 1:10 and myself and several other drummers have listened to the HH at different speeds with headphones.. and there are either straights quarters notes or eighth notes with an accent on the beat. Probably the latter
        Nobody heard 16th notes.
        Also, why wouldn’t one drummer have player the HH/Bass/Snare…. Why split it up… I’m sure they were both capable.

        Sorry if I sound brazen 🙂

  7. ken schwartz says:

    Hi Dennis.
    Thank you for your reply. I understand you are a busy guy.

    I understand there were 2 drummers but I don’t know why 1 couldn’t have handled the bass/snare/HH.. They were both well known and very skilled individually.
    More importantly, and I don’t mean to be brazen, the drum break at 1:10 did not contain 16th notes… I agree that other sections of Scorpio did, but the break was accented eight notes followed by very light grace notes.. Several drummers that I know thought it was straight quarters but when it was slowed down we could hear the very light eighth note grace notes inbetween.

    Thank you again

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Dennis Coffey