Another bass legend has left us with the passing of Funk Brother Bob Babbitt, as the iconic bassist succumbed to complications from a brain tumor which was discovered last year. He was 74.
Along with fellow low-ender James Jamerson, Babbitt was the foundation for the Motown Sound and played on over 200 Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits. His undeniable groove and tone can be heard on such songs as Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Spinners’ “Rubberband Man,” and many more.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Babbitt was trained in classical double bass but became heavily influenced by early rhythm and blues and began playing in local nightclubs. In 1961 he moved to Detroit where he joined The Royaltones, ultimately beginning his career into the city’s studio scene. His incredible recording career eventually took him to New York in 1973, and later to Nashville.
Babbitt was honored last month with a star on Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame for his incredible career.
“The records that Bob played on have not only become hit records; they have become their own genre,” said Musicians Hall of Fame president Joe Chambers. “Much like the music of the A Team became known as the Nashville Sound, the music of the Funk Brothers became the sound of Motown. There are very few musicians whose music has impacted so many generations with no signs of slowing down. Bob Babbitt and the Funk Brothers have done just that.”
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Bob Babbitt.