In Memoriam: Bob Babbitt

Bob BabbittAnother 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.

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  1. RIP… It Really Is A Sad Day.

  2. Babbitt and Jon Lord… what a sad monday…

  3. So sad to see another one of our Bass Heros gone..He was one of the best at what he did..

  4. Terrible news, sweet spirit, killer bass player.

  5. I learned alot from this great man. RIP………..We’ll jam again someday Brother!

  6. Bob also did work with Alice Cooper on the “Goes To Hell” album. That’s where I was introduced to him at. Very sad day indeed. R.I.P. Mr. Babbitt!

  7. Mr. Babbitt I am still trying to get your lines right after all these years.There`s a art to sounding simple, while being damn complicated.You my friend were a Master at that!

  8. rest in peace mr. babbitt. your playing will be remembered for generations to come!

  9. I first saw video of Bob Babbitt with his great playing on the song What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted from the movie Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.

  10. So sad to hear. He played on many of my favorite songs, he will be missed.

  11. RIP Bob Babbitt……… Mr Bassman

  12. A sad day in Bassland. RIP Mr. Babbitt.

  13. so sad…just a few weeks ago I did a video-tutorial to has incredible bassline on Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” (!) and now he’s passed away R.I.P.

  14. Babbitt was truly one of the best- take a listen to his beautiful work on Robert Palmer’s remake of “It Takes Every Kind of People” for a glimpse into his genius. Bob is sorely missed.

  15. All bass players owe this man… an American music icon- R.I.P.

  16. He is jammin with Benjamin Orr!

  17. Bob Babbitt was one of the best ever. And with Duck and James gone, the three baddest, funkiest men to ever pick up a ‘P’ Bass have finished their work. A job well done. I’ll be listening to them for the rest of my life.

  18. I am still learning from Mr Babbitt. Online, he gave me great advice, and we traded ideas. He told me once that Carvin almost made him a signature bass, but it fell through. I told him about the bassmute and he was planning on getting one–not sure he ever did. I also told him that the pickup cover on the P-bass does affect the placement of the fingers on the strings and give a different tonality–he said that he would look into getting a chrome pickup cover too, but I guess he never did. He had his own signature sound and style anyways–other than experimenting, there was no need to change his sound or style. I met him in Oakland and he signed my DVD of the SITSOM film. A true original and a legend on the bass–equal in stature to the late great James Jamerson. We have lost two bass cornerstones now in R&B. I plan to keep the faith on my P bass with every note an homage to both guys. Jamerson can now take it easy in Heaven–Babbitt is there to help out on bass!

  19. I LOVE Bob’s bass thumbin on ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’. Ahead of its time!

  20. Anothewr one of my heros gone. RIP , (.