.

Funk Brothers Bassist Bob Babbitt Dead at 74

Played on Motown hits by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Jackson Five and others

July 16, 2012 5:30 PM ET
Uriel Jones, Eddie Willis, and Bob Babbitt of The Funk Brothers
Uriel Jones, Eddie Willis, and Bob Babbitt of The Funk Brothers
Diamond Photography 2008

Bob Babbitt, the Motown studio bassist who played on hits including Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Tears of a Clown" and the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion," died yesterday in Nashville after suffering complications from brain cancer, his spokesperson confirmed to Rolling Stone. He was 74.

Born on November 26th, 1937, Babbitt grew up in Pittsburgh before moving to Detroit, where he began playing bass in the late Fifties. 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 his new role, Babbitt added thick, funky basslines to hits by the Jackson Five, 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.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com