Inducted in 1999
Gaynel Hodge has been involved with the Blues from his
early childhood on. Coming from a musical family that was in show
business was a plus. Gaynel's mother, Catherine, played piano and sang.
His uncle, Austin Powell, had his own group, The Cats and the Fiddles.
His stepfather, Chuck Norris, was one of the early innovators of the
electric bass, and also played guitar. Gaynel's house, and also his
grandmother's house, was a stopping-off point for every jazz and blues
artist in the Los Angeles area. Just to mention the Blues alone: his
stepfather was a regular in the early bands of B.B King, T-Bone walker,
Charles Brown, Percy Mayfield, Floyd Dixon, Lowell Fulson, Johnny
Guitar Watson, Big Joe Turner and many others. All this left Gaynel no
choice but to join in too!
Gaynel began writing songs and playing and singing professionally at
the age of thirteen. By the age of 15, he was a regular in the
recording studios of Los Angeles and had co-written the super hit
"Earth Angel" and he had also already co-founded the Original Platters.
Gaynel has written, sung, or played on numerous hits by Johnny Guitar
Watson, Dr. John, Lou Rawls, Ted Taylor, Little Johnny Taylor, Aretha
Franklin, Stevie Wonder, The Hollywood Flames, The Turks, The Chambers
Brothers, The Rivingtons, The Olympics, Richard Berry, Dick Dale, Don
and Dewey, Duane Eddy, Johnny Morrisette, Tony Allen, Young Jessie, Pee
Wee Crayton, and just about anyone who recorded in and out of the Los
Gaynel first came to Phoenix in the early fifties to play keyboards at
the Riverside Ballroom on South Central in such bands as Johnny Guitar
Watson, Pee Wee Crayton and Lowell Fulson. Later he would come with his
own groups: The Hollywood Flames, The Turks and finally with the Ink
Spots as their pianist and musical director. This was in the late
sixties and he was already in love with Phoenix and eventually decided
to move here. He settled in Phoenix in 1974, when he met his wife,
Ilona. Since then, Gaynel has been a moving force on the music scene in
Phoenix. He has performed in four restaurants and night clubs that have
won the "Best of Phoenix" award. Gaynel is truly a showman and
performer who has dedicated his life to music.