Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Bob Babbitt 1937-2012
July 20, 2012 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Bob Babbitt, longtime session musician and member of Motown's house band The Funk Brothers, has died at 74.

Babbitt worked with Motown bass legend James Jamerson (previously) as a friend and mentor. He discusses (among other things) Jamerson and the Hitsville USA years in a short interview recorded recently.

Some highlights of his extensive discography were: Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", The Temptations' "Ball of Confusion", The Miracles' "Tears of a Clown", , The Capitols' "Cool Jerk", Diana Ross' "Touch Me in the Morning", Robert Palmer's "Every Kinda People", The Parliaments' "(I Wanna) Testify", The Spinners' "Games People Play", Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues",
Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia"
, R. Dean Taylor's "Indiana Wants Me", and Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio".
posted by ricochet biscuit (21 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Shit.
posted by pracowity at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2012


.
posted by The World Famous at 9:16 AM on July 20, 2012


He was an vital component of any number of hit-makers.
I mean:

To date, over 100,000,000 recordings featuring
Babbitt’s bass artistry have been sold, including:
Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me" “Inner City Blues”
Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed and Delivered”
Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train To Georgia”
Smokey Robinson’s “Tears Of A Clown”
Diana Ross’ “Touch Me In The Morning”
The Spinners’ “Rubber Band Man”
The Capitols’ “Cool Jerk”
Edwin Starr’s “War”
Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye”
Robert Palmer’s “Every Kind Of People”,
Barry Manilow’s “Ready To Take A Chance”

...I mean, seriously?

I'm saying a prayer of thanks here. Then jamming my ass off. What a fantastic talent!

Jam In Peace, player.
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:16 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]



posted by Smart Dalek at 9:17 AM on July 20, 2012


.
posted by koucha at 9:18 AM on July 20, 2012


What timing. I just bought the Hitsville USA box set yesterday and was considering watching Standing in the Shadows of Motown this weekend. Guess I'll make it a surefire point now.

.
posted by mykescipark at 9:21 AM on July 20, 2012


My favorite Bob Babbitt quote is from this this Bass Player article.

”If you’re a musician coming to Nashville, everybody asks for credits and reels of your work. So when I moved here I tried to recall everything I played on and put a list together. One producer took a look at my resume and said,”Shoot, you played on “Midnight Train to Georgia”? You don’t need no other credits!”
posted by dr. fresh at 10:12 AM on July 20, 2012


This guy played one of the most momentous bass parts in history: Ball of Confusion.

Not a bad legacy.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 10:22 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by safetyfork at 10:47 AM on July 20, 2012


Aw hell. Godspeed, Bob.
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:10 AM on July 20, 2012


To date, over 100,000,000 recordings featuring

I think you mean records sold? A hundred million recordings at (to be conservative) 3 minutes a piece would last 570 years.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:43 AM on July 20, 2012


But, regardless: oh my goodness what a player. The bassline in Signed, Sealed, Delivered is just filthy. Ridiculous. So good.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:44 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm always hesitant to say, "they don't make 'em like that anymore" but, hell, they didn't even make 'em like that then.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:50 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for all the wonderful music.

.
posted by Sailormom at 11:58 AM on July 20, 2012


.
posted by mikelieman at 1:07 PM on July 20, 2012


Anyone who hasn't seen "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" should do so immediately. Today would be good, given the news coming out of Colorado.

He gave me and my late sister one of the best nights of live music we had ever experienced. May his memory be a blessing.

.
posted by Kinbote at 1:45 PM on July 20, 2012


Babbitt and Dunne in the course of a couple of months - that's the backbeat of soul gone away.

.

and

.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 2:03 PM on July 20, 2012


.
posted by trip and a half at 3:19 PM on July 20, 2012


Thanks for making this FPP, ricochet biscuit . I noted his death a few days ago, and thought of making an obit post, but could't quite make the time for it.

RIP, Bob Babbit. You put one hell of a solid low end in a hella lotta great tunes. Much respect.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:24 AM on July 21, 2012


.
posted by marienbad at 12:07 PM on July 21, 2012


Here's Bob playing on "What's Going On" at NAMM in '08.

There are some isolated tracks of Jamerson on Youtube, but I can't find anything for Bob, except for this tantalizingly brief 30-second video of him playing "Signed, Sealed", which should at least give you goosebumps.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 5:06 AM on July 24, 2012


« Older Jonathan Richman playing "Tahitian Hop" and "Abdul...  |  Pomplamoose mashup of two earw... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments