Bob Babbitt, the Motown studio bassist who played on hits including Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "Tears of a Clown" and the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)," died Sunday in Nashville after suffering complications from brain cancer, his spokesperson confirmed to Rolling Stone. He was 74.
Born on Nov. 26, 1937, Babbitt grew up in Pittsburgh before moving to Detroit, where he began playing bass in the late '50s. He joined Stevie Wonder's touring band in 1966. One year later, Babbitt was invited to join Motown's house band, the Funk Brothers, after Motown bassist James Jamerson broke his hand.
In that new role, Babbitt added thick, funky bass lines to hits by the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder's "Sign, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" and "We Can Work it Out," and half of Marvin Gaye's 1971 LP, "What's Going On."
After leaving Motown in 1972, Babbitt recorded with a diverse group of acts, including Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt and Frank Sinatra. He scored 25 gold and platinum records in his career and played on more than 200 Top 40 hits, ranging from Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia" to Elton John's "Mama Can't Buy You Love."
More recently, Babbitt was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
in 2004, and he played on Phil Collins' 2010 album, "Going Back."
Babbitt! Damn, what a great musician. What a record of achievement. Stand him up alongside any other career music-maker, and the light will shine brighter on this Funk Brother. More hits. More rock. More soul. More technical skill.
Thank goodness he got to live his life supporting many of the great ones on the road. And you played in Motown on most of the music I grew up listening to. My favorite artists. My favorite songs. The best back-up players ever. The Motown Museum. Damn! I'm crying like a baby and I'm 65 years old.
Rest in peace, Robert. You sure earned it! I couldn't be sadder...
Jon Lord is one of the BEST rock keyboard players EVER....
I don't care how sophistocated you THINK you are.... this guy ROCKED.
We all shine on... Time is an illusion...