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R.I.P. Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbitt

Bob Babbitt

DETROIT (AP) — Prominent Motown studio musician and Funk Brothers member Bob Babbitt, whose bass playing pounded through the Temptations hit “Ball of Confusion” and Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” has died. He was 74.

Babbitt died Monday of complications from brain cancer in Nashville, Tenn., where he had lived for many years, his manager David Spero said in a statement released by Universal Music, the label in which Babbitt contributed to numerous hit records.

Well-known for decades among musicians, Babbitt laid down bass lines on Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” along with “The Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Inner City Blues” by Marvin Gaye, and Edwin Starr’s “War.”

“Bob was a teddy bear of a guy,” former Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum told the Detroit Free Press. “And he was an extraordinary musician — a player’s player.”

After leaving Motown, he recorded with Bette Midler, Jim Croce, Bonnie Raitt and Frank Sinatra.
In all, he played on more than 200 top 40 hits, including “Midnight Train to Georgia,” by Gladys Knight and the Pips and “Ready to Take a Chance Again” by Barry Manilow.

Babbitt gained wider public recognition through the 2002 film about the Funk Brothers, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.”

“He was one of the last of the breed of journeymen bass players who were total pros, could go in and crank out a hit, go to the next session and crank out another one,” Allan Slutsky, the film’s writer and producer, told The Detroit News. [AP]

Dude was a legend and played on so many incredible records it’s mind boggling (and hip-shaking). Rest in peace, Bob. A few videos are below.

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