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 Angeles area.
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.
At the end of the 1990’s after several European tours, Gaynel and his family settled in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam. After that, Gaynel still made annual visits and tours in the United States, as well as across Europe.
Gaynel Hodge passed away in Amsterdam on June 3, 2020 at the age of 83.