View Full Version : Bob Babbitt Dead

17-07-2012, 04:38 PM
Motown bass player Bob Babbitt, whose work lit up a host of hits in the ’60s and ’70s, died this morning in Nashville, friends said. He was 74.

Babbitt had been diagnosed in early 2011 with an inoperable brain tumor. He was recently readmitted to the hospital after a year of home hospice care.

“Bob was a teddy bear of a guy,” said former Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum. “And he was an extraordinary musician — a player’s player.”

At Motown Records in the late ’60s, Babbitt’s thick, fluid bass lines drove the groove on songs by the Temptations (“Ball of Confusion”), Stevie Wonder (“Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours),” Rare Earth (“Losing You”), Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (“The Tears of a Clown”) and many others.

Like other members of Motown’s renowned Funk Brothers studio band, he often moonlighted for other Detroit labels and studios — including United Sound and Golden World — performing on tunes such as the Capitols’ “Cool Jerk,” the Parliaments’ “(I Wanna) Testify,” and Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold.”

Other work in the ’60s included sessions with burgeoning hometown star Bob Seger, at United Sound, and with rocker Jeff Beck — the first non-Motown act permitted to use the label’s West Grand Boulevard studio.

Like many studio musicians of the era, Babbitt wasn’t always publicly acknowledged for his work. It wasn’t uncommon for Babbitt’s role to be omitted — or even actively hidden — on record credits.

He told the Free Press in 2003 that his Scorpion was “actually the rhythm section on the first Funkadelic album (in 1970) at Tera Shirma studios, but George (Clinton) gave credit to his band at that time.”

Like his fellow Funk Brothers, Babbitt at last got wider attention via the 2002 documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” which chronicled the group’s work behind the scenes.

Babbitt, a Pittsburgh native who moved to Detroit as a teenager in the late ’50s, got his start on the Motor City music scene playing clubs with the popular local band the Royaltones.

“I was taking a walk and happened to pass a place where I heard some guys rehearsing,” he recounted to the Free Press. “I went down and introduced myself, got my upright bass, and started working with them. The scene in Detroit then was heavy on the teenage clubs. They were all over the city — all kinds of different groups. That’s where we started to meet the other musicians.”

He remained a go-to session musician and tour bassist in the 1970s, notching hits with artists such as the Spinners, the O’Jays and Gloria Gaynor. Though heralded for his soul chops, Babbitt was versatile enough to land work across a variety of styles, performing on such top 10 pop hits as Jim Croce’s “I Got a Name” and Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.”

His signature bass line came in 1971 — a stellar solo on the pioneering funk-rock song “Scorpio” with Dennis Coffey, himself a former Royaltone and Funk Brother. “Bob had that big, fat sound,” Coffey said today. “The highlight of his career, in my mind, was that solo. It set a bass standard. You didn’t hear bass solos on records, let alone a hit record. Guys were freaking out trying to duplicate it. That was the benchmark for a bass player: You had to be able to play that ‘Scorpio’ solo.’”

LINK::: http://www.freep.com/article/20120716/ENT04/120716069/Motown-bass-player-Bob-Babbitt-dead

17-07-2012, 05:31 PM
Scorpio. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBn_oUH8Uo0)