Nicknamed the "Chunk of Funk," Earl Van Dyke was the keyboardist/bandleader for the Motown studio band of the '60s affectionately dubbed the Funk Brothers. The band can be heard on 22 number one pop hits, 48 number one R&B hits, generating sales of over 300 million records. With support from his parents (his father was a classical violinist turned Ford Motors factory worker), Van Dyke started playing piano when he was five years old. He took lessons at the Detroit Conservatory of Music. He began playing professionally as a teenager hanging out with the likes of Barry Harris, Yusef Lateef, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Kenny Burrell, and Hank Jones, getting a gig here and there. In between factory work, sporadic playing jobs, and two stints in the Armed Services, Van Dyke caught tuberculosis and spent two and a half years in a veterans administration hospital. In 1956, jazz guitarist Emmett Sleigh hired Van Dyke to play in his band, Emmett Sleigh and the Sleighriders. Van Dyke was hired to replace departing organist Jimmy Smith in Chris Columbo's band. Columbo was a drummer with Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five ("Saturday Night Fish Fry," "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby").