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Howard Carroll dies; Dixie Hummingbirds lead guitarist was 92

Howard Carroll, left, with the Grammy Award-winning group

Howard Carroll, left, with the Grammy Award-winning group Dixie Hummingbirds. Credit: Joe Lauro, Historic Films Photo

PHILADELPHIA — A lead guitarist for the influential and Grammy Award-winning gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds has died in Philadelphia.

Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services says Howard Carroll died Tuesday at an assisted-living facility at age 92.

The Dixie Hummingbirds started as a quartet of students formed by James B. Davis in a Greenville, South Carolina, high school in 1928. The group toured widely and recorded a cappella for the Decca label in the 1930s and then relocated to Philadelphia in the 1940s.

After World War II, as the sound of gospel changed, the Hummingbirds added bass, drums and guitar supplied by Carroll.

They performed on Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like a Rock” in 1973 and won a Grammy for their own version.

The band’s influence extends well beyond gospel circles to artists including James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

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