In Memoriam: Remembering the Bassists We Lost in 2012

2012 had some incredible highlights in the world of bass, but we must also stop to remember the incredible bassists we lost this year. We lost some of our biggest heroes, and while their strings have stopped ringing, their musical legacies will live on.

Bob Babbitt (July 16, 2012)

Motown bassist and member of the Funk Brothers.

Bob BabbittBabbitt’s bass lines propelled numerous hits through the ’60s and ’70s, including 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. Earlier this year, he was honored with a star on Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame.


Donald “Duck” Dunn (May 13, 2012)

Bassist for Booker T. and the M.G.’s and Stax Records.

Donald “Duck” DunnA self-taught player, Dunn’s bass lines graced songs by artists like Muddy Waters, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Wilson Pickett, Samd & Dave, and many more.


Adam Yauch aka MCA (May 4, 2012)

MC and bassist for The Beastie Boys.

Adam Yauch

Yauch formed the Beastie Boys as a punk band after teaching himself to play bass guitar at 17. The group went on to sell over 40 million albums in their career.


Lloyd Brevett (May 3, 2012)

Reggae bassist and founding member of The Skatalites.

Lloyd BrevettArmed with his double bass, Brevett was one of the central figures in bringing ska music from Jamaica to the world.


John Harrison (May 26, 2012)

Bassist and cofounder of Hawkwind.

John HarrisonThough he was only with the band for over a year, Harrison helped give the group their start and is featured on their self-titled debut, which is credited as the first space rock album.


Bob Birch (August 15, 2012)

Session musician and longtime bassist for Elton John.

Bob BirchBirch worked with various pop artists including Billy Joel, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Lionel Ritchie, B.B. King, Cher, and Mary J. Blige.


Lee Dorman (December 21, 2012)

Bassist for Iron Butterfly.

Lee DormanDorman spent over 30 years in the group and was featured in their mammoth hit, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” He also created the progressive rock band Captain Beyond.


B.B. Cunningham (October 14, 2012)

Session musician and bassist for Jerry Lee Lewis.

B.B. CunninghamCunningham was also the lead singer for ’60s group The Hombres, and wrote their hit “Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out).”


Chris Ethridge (April 23, 2012)

Bassist and founding member of Flying Burrito Brothers.

Chris EthridgeThe genre-shaping band was one of the first to fuse country and rock. After leaving the group, he became a bassist for hire and worked with artists like Ry Cooder, Graham Nash, and The Doors.


Joe Byrd (March 6, 2012)

Jazz bassist.

Joe ByrdAlong with brother Charlie and saxophonist Stan Getz, Byrd helped popularize bossa nova in the American jazz scene with the album Jazz Samba.


Charles Flores (August 22, 2012)

Cuban jazz bassist.

Charles FloresFlores was a seasoned player and won a Grammy with pianist Michel Camilo for the album Live at the Blue Note.


Dick Kniss (January 25, 2012)

Bassist for Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Dick KnissKniss also co-wrote John Denver’s hit “Sunshine on my Shoulders.”


John Stockfish (August 30, 2012)

Original bassist for Gordon Lightfoot.

John StockfishHe went on to work with Jim Croce, Tommy Hunter, Mel Torme, and more before getting into Nashville’s music publishing business.


Henry E. Davis (January 18, 2012)

Bassist for ’70s R&B group L.T.D.

Henry E. DavisDavis also worked with Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, and more.


John Levy (January 20, 2012)

Bassist and talent manager.

John LevyIn addition to playing with legends like Billie Holiday, Stuff Smith, and George Shearing, Levy managed artists like Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderly, and Wes Montgomery.


John Koko (June 25, 2012)

Bassist for Makaha Sons.

John Koto

He was a fixture of performing and promoting Hawaiian music to the world.


Tomáš ?elechovský (June 27, 2012)

Bassist for Czech symphonic metal band Symphonity.

Tomáš ?elechovskýThe bassist toured the world with Symphonity, and was featured on their 2008 release Voice from the Silence.


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Share your thoughts

  1. You forgot Michael Davis from MC5. RIP

  2. Thank you all for the “great bass lines” you blessed us with…

  3. May the groove in heaven roar. Guys, I wish you the endless Jam you ever wanted. R.I.P., thanks so much for the music and the inspiration you all gave us!

  4. I guess heaven became a lot more funkier this year.

  5. That ain’t thunder son, that’s Bob Babbitt and Duck Dunn!

  6. And for the german bassmen: Manne Praeker (Spliff, Nina Hagen Band):

  7. let’s not forget the legend Jaco pastorius. who passed years ago.