Don Mayberry’s funeral arrangements

April 13, 2011

Don Mayberry, extraordinary Detroit bassist, died of a heart attack on Monday, according to an e-mail circulated by his friends and collaborators Spencer and Barbara Barefield. The bassist, 60, played frequently with Spencer, and appeared the Palmer Woods Music in Homes series the Barefields have coordinated for a number of years.

Don Mayberry in a Palmer Woods Music in Homes concert. (Photo by Barbara Barefield)

In a synopsis of his career, they wrote:

Don’s first professional job at age 13 was performing with the Dorothy Ashby trio. After graduation from Cass Tech, he toured with the David Bowie band. While pursuing his musical education, he was a member of the Tom Saunders traditional band, as well as touring with renowned drummer J. C. Heard’s big band and bebop artists such as Clark Terry. A great favorite of vocalists, he toured nationally with Lena Horne, Joe Williams, Diane Schuur, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis and Michael Feinstein. He also performed internationally with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and many, many others. A highly respected classical bassist, he has played with the Detroit and Scandinavian Symphony orchestras.

He was a powerful bassist, whether plucking or bowing. And he spoke in deep, resonant voice that mirrored his instrumental one, enhancing a presence that was at once commanding and relaxed.  And if there’s any one place to hear him, his recording of spirituals in duets with vocalist Angie Smith, Let My People Go, put him in as demanding a format as a bassist can find. There’s no place to hide – and Don never needed any.

As the Barefield’s e-mail noted, he was a “musician’s musician,” who could perform in any setting from a classroom to Broadway, but his first love was performing jazz.

“We are all devastated by this news.  He brought so much joy to so many. Always a huge hug and an ear to really hear what you had to say or play.  We were all blessed to know him,” WEMU’s Linda Yohn said in another e-mail that circulated among jazz heads.

Mayberry was to perform this Friday and Saturday at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge along with Barefield and the singer Naima Shambourger. They’ll continue with performances that will now be dedicated to Don’s memory at 9 and 11 both nights.

Update: Barbara Barefield passes on these arrangements from Don’s family:

Cards can also be sent to the funeral home and will be given to the family.
McCabe Funeral Home, 31950 W. 12 Mile, Farmington Hills, MI 48334;
Visitation, noon to 8 on Monday; service at 11 a.m. Tues.
At the Baker’s tributes this weekend, bassist Jeff Pedpraz will play bass on Friday, Marion Hayden on Saturday. Originally Don’s gig, he recruited Spencer Barefield and Shambourger to play with him. Cover is $5 general admission.
Another Baker’s event in Don’s memory is apparently being considered for May 7.

Don Mayberry (l) with Francisco Mora, backstage at the Detroit jazz festival, probably early '90s. (Photo by W. Kim Heron)



  • Barbarabarefield

    Love your photo Kim. That was Don, exploding with spirit. Thank you for sharing the memories of this extraordinary person.

  • Tyrone Williams

    Donald grew up next door to me and was a great inspiration…Ironically I just reestablished contact with one of his sisters in Dallas and was looking forward to seeing D. again…

    Tyrone Williams

  • Jim

    Even tho Don could cop an attitude, mostly he made the gigs fun, and gave me some sound musical advice- I wish I could call him for a gig right now, and if he couldn’t make it, I’d Call Hubie Crawford, and now they’re both gone…

  • Mark D.

    Met him a few times. A real gentleman and outstanding musician. Always looked forward to hearing him with Tom Saunders at Marge’s.



  • Dclesley

    Don was not only a great Bassist, he was a great human being. He seemed to bring joy and peace with him wherever he went. I will certainly miss hearing him play and getting one of those BIG hugs!! I am SO glad I have the Angie Smith/Don Mayberry “Let My People Go” CD. I can still listen to Don whenever I want!

  • Tweed5555


  • Shirley Norwood

    During this glorious “High Season” of the Christian observance of Christ’s triumphant death and Ressirrection, the phenomenal Bass playing of Don Mayberry always comes to my mind. Conducting Clydesdales’ Cantata, “How Great Thou Art, I was honored to have Don Mayberry on Bass, playing as only he played, caressing bass patterns from the depth of his soul. “Thank You,”Sir Don Mayberry.” – Shirley Norwood.

  • Chelly K

    When I would look over my shoulder and see his eyes closed with a smile there’s no other warm feeling in the world he would give me in a show,I am going to so miss him!! Chelly K

  • Darron McKinney

    I thank GOD for the life of Don, I had the priviledge of working with Don Many times he was a beautiful KAT, R.I.P.

  • Kim Patillo

    I never got a chance to perform with Don but we spoke many times about it, but his insperation will live on and push many up and comming musican to stay the couse and preserve the cause…… Kpatil

  • Jymi Dill

    When I GOT THE CHANCE TO SING WITH A BIG BAND,( Teddy Harris) DonMayberry was in the band. When I played my first gig dress in a tux, Don was one of the musicians, How much he unselfishly helped me, encouraged me, championed me cannot be measured and I will love and miss him always. Thank God for Don Mayberry.

  • Klacy2000

    I met Don back in the days of Cobb’s Corners and he educated me on the history of jazz, gospel and classical music. He became my teacher, a good friend and remained a musical inspiration. He will be remembered and missed.

  • Vaughn Klugh

    I’ve known Don as long as I can remember. We started out cat fighting and ended up best friends. He had and infectious laugh. A person of strong conviction and, good morals and dedicated musician Always helping and considerate. Can’t begin to count the gig s we did. I learned something about life from him at every one. He inspired me to write an encyclopedia on every possible rhythm. A father figure. He will be greatly missed. But he will always be alive in my heart.. from a dear friend and fellow musician.. Vaughn Klugh

  • Chopkins

    I met and first played with Don in Teddy Harris’s New Breed Bebop Society in the early ’90s. He embraced me like a musical father; always providing me with constructive criticism. However, similarly, his compliments were meted out heartfelt and earnestly. What I most remember about Don is the way that he brought a mien of dignity to every performance, whether it was in a concert hall or a smoky jazz club. Don Mayberry was the personification of a ‘consummate musician’. We will miss you , our brother.

  • Renell Gonsalves

    Though great musicians come from everywhere, I always considered Detroit
    to be the city of great bass players. Don was definitley a part of this great
    tradition. He will be missed by everyone.

    Renell Gonsalves

  • Bunnyhoman

    What a very special person and his passing leaves such a hugh hole – his wonderful music, his infectious laugh and that fantastic smile. There is no other like him. It was my very great privilege to have known him and to listen to his music. I, too, am so fortunate to have “Let My People Go.”
    Bunny Homan

  • Alfred Bruce Bradley

    In addition to being a great musician Donald Maybury was a wonderful human being. He was a gracious, considerate, giving person always committed to excellence and willing to give his all. The Tapology and Bradley family from Flint Michigan will greatly miss this giant of a man. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
    May he rest in peace.
    Bruce Bradley

  • Pswanb

    Tyrone, I don’t know you, but I too, lived in that house on Monterey!! As children, the Mayberry’s and our family had great times together. Don inherited a lot of love for music from his Mom!! Don’s great laugh and passion for music was bar none. He’d go into his own world as he played his baby – the bass!! As I viewed him today at McCabe, I felt almost as if he’d get up and say this was all a bad joke.
    My prayers and blessings are extended to his family!!
    Pat Swan-Brown
    Cass Tech/EMU (classmate)

  • Nina Simone Bentley

    My memories of Don stretch from amazing musical performances to deep intellectual exchanges. Many nights, between sets or after a gig, we discussed everything from world politics, to world religions…from the physical to the metaphysical…his thoughts and laughter, like his music, resonated from a full-spirit and a giving heart!  Don was not only a genius of a musician, but a well-versed scholar of life! I will always treasure his friendship. Though he has physically transitioned to a different dimension, his spirit is with us and his music plays on…

  • Tim Quinn

    Don….you are missed as you were always such a presence on the music scene in Detroit. I remember running in to you in a lot of places starting back at Cobb’s Corner. One night I got a last minute call to sit in on drums and had no idea who I was playing with. I was a little late, a little rusty and a little nervous and when I walked in there you were setting up and you just put a calm on me. Thanks for being such a good soul and friend. May God hold you, your family and your friends in the palm of his hand. Thanks Don.

  • Charles Ezra Ferrell

    I first saw Don perform in an intimate setting at Dr. Curtis Long’s home with Dave McMurray, Spencer Barefiled and Djallo Djekete. His mastery of the bass was immediately apparent, but what struck me was his expressionic personality and emotions that came from his heart and through his instrutment. I have many wonderful photos of Don shot at the Detroit Jazz Festival that I have exhibited, and will share family and friends upon request.

  • Jmullins

    I always felt better when I looked to see who was playing bass and saw Don on it. He always swung on every occassion. He was able to live out his dream and play the music he loved and we all benefited from it. May he rest in peace thanks for all the swing.

  • Ray McMurtry

    Tyrone, I grew up right across the street from you both. I played Donalds five string Kay Bass one night at Bakers as we restablished contact after so many years. It was so good seeing him. I spoke to my mother in regards to his dealth the other day and your name came up. She said you were teaching school now. She also mentioned your sister Jackie. Which one of Donalds sister lives in Dallas: Dianne or Debra?

  • Karenpatriciamcdonald

     I was so saddened by this news. I had the great priviledge of touring Gypsy with him and was always disappointed that we never had an opportunity to work together again. I never forgot his great talent and even greater heart.