Val Burke (Willie & The Mighty Magnificents)

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Val Burke, bassist (electric) by Tom Semioli


Seminal Sides: You Broke My Heart So…I Busted Your Jaw (1973), The Mirror (1974) by Spooky Tooth; Willie & The Mighty Magnificents Play That Funky Beat.


Artists / Bands: Spooky Tooth, Willie & The Mighty Magnificents


Cited by Marcus Miller and Jamaaladeen Tacuma as a profound influence on their playing, Val Burke hails from the bass player capital of the world: Queens County, New York City.


Val served as the house bassist for Stang / All Platinum records, waxing sides with The Moments, (Ray, Goodman & Brown) Whatnauts, Linda Jones, Donnie Elbert, Sylvia. As the Concord Resort Orchestra bassist, Burked backed Ben Vereen, Tom Jones, Tony Martin, Robert Goulet to cite a few. Val also worked A&R for Cameo.


He anchored two latter day Spooky Tooth slabs You Broke My Heart So…I Busted Your Jaw (1973), and The Mirror (1974). Tooth were long in the tooth with regard to their commercial and artistic prime, yet these platters do have their enjoyable, groovin’ moments.


Dig this Burke bass passage which must’ve inspired Marcus and Jamaaladeen: “Women and Gold” from The Mirror

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He worked the bass chair for Elephant’s Memory Band sax colossus Stan Bronstein’s Living On the Avenue (1976), and Willie & The Mighty Magnificents Play That Funky Beat.


Dig Val working the pocket with Stan Bronstein on the title track to “Living on the Avenue”  

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Dig Val with Willie & The Mighty Magnificents “Funky Beat”


Interview with Val Burke in Ebony Live: Larry Smith Unsung Hero of Hip Hip Gets His Props (2017)


Interview with Jamaaladeen Tacuma which cites Val Burke: For Bass Players Only by Jon Liebman


“But there was one bass player who turned my head completely around and became a major influence. His name is Val Burke. Val was the bass player in a self-contained R&B band called Willie & the Mighty Magnificents. They were the backup studio band for a group called the Moments, which had hits like “Love on a Two-Way Street.” At the time, they were headed up by hip-hop pioneer Sylvia Robinson of Sugar Hill Records. This band was cooking all the time when I saw them…..”

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