Paul Justman Dies: ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown’, J. Geils ‘Centerfold’ Video Director Was 74

Paul Justman, director of the acclaimed 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown as well as classic MTV-era music videos including the J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” and Diana Ross’ “Muscles,” died March 7 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 74.

His death was announced by his brother, the J. Geils keyboard player Seth Justman, to The New York Times for an obituary today.

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Named Best Non-Fiction Film of 2002 by the New York Film Critics, among other awards including two Grammys, Standing in the Shadows of Motown chronicled the story of the Funk Brothers, the legendary, if at the time largely unknown, studio musicians who played on numerous Motown hits. The film gave long overdue credit to musicians Jamerson, Jack Ashford, Bob Babbitt, Joe Hunter, Uriel Jones, Joe Messina, Eddie Willis, Richard “Pistol” Allen, Benny “Papa Zita” Benjamin, Eddie “Bongo” Brown, Johnny Griffith, Earl Van Dyke and Robert White, who played on hits by the Temptations, the Supremes, the Miracles, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Mary Wells, among others.

While Standing in the Shadows of Motown was Justman’s most widely known feature film, he also directed other music-related documentaries including The Doors: Live in Europe 1968 (1990) and Deep Purple: Heavy Metal Pioneers (1991).

Prior to his feature-length docs, Justman was a noted director of early MTV-era music videos, perhaps most notably his first: “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band, a song written by Justman’s brother Seth Justman. “Centerfold” was a No. 1 hit for 6 weeks on Hot 100 in 1982.

Other music videos directed by Justman included J. Geils’ “Freeze Frame” (1982); The Cars’ “Shake It Up” (1981) and “Since You’re Gone” (1982); Rick Springfield’s “Don’t Talk To Strangers” and “What Kind of Fool Am I” (both 1982) and Ross’ “Muscles” (1982).

In addition to his brother, Justman is survived by wife Saundra Jordan, and sister Peggy Suttle Kligerman.

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