Bob Babbitt, 1937–2012

STUDIO LEGEND BOB BABBITT SUCCUMBED TO COMPLICATIONS FROM HIS LONG BATTLE with brain cancer on July 17, in a Nashville hospital; he was 74.

STUDIO LEGEND BOB BABBITT SUCCUMBED TO COMPLICATIONS FROM HIS LONG BATTLE with brain cancer on July 17, in a Nashville hospital; he was 74.

Babbitt may have started out in the shadows of James Jamerson at Motown, but he went on to have one of the most distinctive and durable careers among the first-generation session bass icons, with indelible hit-making contributions in three major recording markets—including appearances on more than 200 hit singles and over 25 Gold Records. Born on November 26, 1937, in Pittsburgh, Babbitt studied classical upright bass as a child and was soon captivated by R&B. After playing local joints, he switched to electric bass and moved to Detroit in 1961, finding club, road, and eventually studio work. He cut the Capitols’ “Cool Jerk,” and when Motown’s Berry Gordy bought Golden World Records, Babbitt began a role with the Motown “Funk Brothers” that gradually increased as Jamerson battled his demons. Bob’s Motown highlights included Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown,” Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me (the Ecology)” and “Inner City Blues” (Bass Player, February ’08), and Dennis Coffey’s instrumental hit “Scorpio” (BP, September ’10), which featured a landmark, lengthy Babbitt solo.

When Motown moved to Los Angeles in the early ’70s, the big-toned, big-boned bassist headed to New York, working with Arif Mardin and other top producers for such artists as Bette Midler, Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, Diana Ross, Jim Croce, Gloria Gaynor, Frankie Valli, Alice Cooper, and Robert Palmer. He also made a regular trek down to Philadelphia International Records, where he recorded with Elton John and played on “Then Came You,” “The Rubberband Man,” and other hits by the Spinners, for producer Thom Bell. Teamed most often in that period with another Motown refugee, drummer Andrew Smith, Babbitt cut what many feel is his finest track, Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” (BP, November ’98). In 1986, with work slowing, Bob moved to Nashville, but he could never quite crack the country-dominated session scene. Instead, he toured with Palmer, Brenda Lee, and Joan Baez. Allan Slutsky’s 1989 book Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and especially the 2002 film documentary of the same name, brought Babbitt long-overdue notoriety, leading to several Grammys and numerous tours with the Funk Brothers—most recently their participation in Phil Collins’ 2010 CD/DVD project, Going Back. Just this past June, Bob received a star on Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame. He is survived by his wife and their three children.


Bob Daisley

Daisley recently completed the four-year task of writing For Facts Sake, his long-awaited autobiography, which should finally set the record straight with regard to who did what when.

Tony Garnier: Together Through Life With Bob Dylan

TONY GARNIER HAS PLAYED MORE GIGS FOR BOB DYLAN THAN ANY OTHER SIDEMAN. Since joining the Never Ending Tour Band in 1989, Garnier (who, like Dylan, hails from Minnesota) has provided a sympathetic, hard-swinging backbone for the tireless troubadour’s timeless songs. This includes Dylan’s latest, Together Through Life. Tony anchored Asleep At The Wheel, Buster Poindexter, the Lounge Lizards, and Tom Waits before connecting with Dylan while subbing on Saturday Night Live. The Brooklyn-based Garnier shares some insight after 20 years with the original Tambourine Man.

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Help Support The Bob Cranshaw Care Fund

Bob is bravely battling stage 4 cancer that is aggressive and relentless. While his family is eternally grateful to The Jazz Foundation of America for their generosity and support, he and his family now need 24/7 care.

Andrew Gouche's : Plucking Pilgrimage

 WHEN JAMES JAMERSON BEGAN CREATING HIS BIBLE of bass guitar playing, it could be heard on the radio—chapter and verse, each week. With Jaco poised to turn jazz bass on its ear, it was but a five-year journey from Florida to the world. But for gospel bassdom’s breakout innovator Andrew Gouche, mainstream recognition has been a 30-year passage. He first gained cult status with bassists via his probing, present parts on recordings for gospel music’s A-list, as well as his hugely popular residency at the Prayze Connection club in Los Angeles. But Gouche became a true underground underlord through the many web clips of his bass bravura, plus his crossover to become Chaka Khan’s musical director. Now, at long last, Andrew is claiming the spotlight with the pending late-winter/early-spring release of Andrew Gouche, his instrumental solo debut. The tentrack CD (nine of which were cut live in Seattle and augmented in the studio) is the perfect pulpit for