Philly Soul: The Top 10 Ronnie Baker Bass Lines

This episode of “From the Bottom” is part history lesson, part analysis, part tribute.

I’m digging into one of the great unsung bassists of Soul, Disco, and Popular music: Ronnie Baker. The longtime Philadelphia International Records bassist worked alongside Gamble & Huff, Thom Bell, and others to play bass on some of the most popular songs of the past 50 years, including music by The O’Jays, The Spinners, The Delfonics, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and many, many others.

Here are my top 10 bass lines by Baker, spanning his career as a 20-something in the 1960s, through his time writing and producing at the height of disco in the 1970s.

Paul Thompson has been playing bass professionally for over 30 years, including recording and touring stints with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. Recent playing credits include Bob Reynolds, John Pizzarelli, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, and Bob James, among others. Currently, he can be seen playing in and around the Pittsburgh, PA area with the THOTH Trio, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, and many other musicians in the city's rich Jazz community. An educator of over 25 years, Paul currently teaches Jazz Bass at Duquesne University, West Virginia University, and his alma mater, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 Performing Arts School.

Connect with Paul on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and his website.

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Share your thoughts

  1. Auguste Gazôn

    Always called him: The Right Honorable Ronald Baker, one of favorite bassplayers. I think he is on bass on e.g ‘Touch me in the morning’, MFSB. Love that bassline!

  2. Allen Roth

    Hi Paul! I’m a big fan of your columns (which I access through “No Treble”). I just watched the one on Ronnie Baker. I am a bassist in the Harrisburg, PA area and grew up listening to and playing Soul and Motown music. I appreciate your research on Ronnie Baker!! There are a few songs that you talked about that I had always attributed to James Jamerson, particularly “I’ll Be Around”. Thank you for correcting that – and thank you to Ronnie Baker for his outstanding legacy!