- Posted on Jul 16th 2012 5:00PM by Jason MacNeil
According to the Detroit News, the musician's son Joe Kreinar said Babbitt died at 7:15 a.m. local time.
"He was a tough man, strong," Kreinar said. "He could take pain. Right now I miss him deeply, and it's only been a few hours."
While some in non-musical circles only recognized Babbitt's work and contribution following the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, his bass was on some classic hits, ranging from Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train to Georgia" to Del Shannon's "Little Town Flirt" to Funkadelic's "I Just Wanna Testify." He would also be used on Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," Edwin Starr's "War" and Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" among countless others. According to his official site, the musician worked on over 200 Top 40 hits.
- Adam "MCA" Yauch
- Whitney Houston
- Donna Summer
- Kitty Wells
- Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees
- Etta James
- Don Cornelius
- Earl Scruggs
- Dick Clark
- The Band's Levon Helm
- Donald "Duck" Dunn
- Men at Work's Greg Ham
- The Monkees' Davy Jones
- Dave Brubeck
- Fontella Bass
- Hal David
- Marvin Hamlisch
- Ravi Shankar
- Andy Williams
- Bob Babbitt
- Herb Reed
- Bob Welch
- Chris Lighty
- Jim Marshall
- Scott McKenzie
- Tony Sly
Born in Pittsburgh and the son of Hungarian parents, Babbitt reportedly started playing in nightclubs in his hometown. However in 1961 the bassist opted to move to Detroit to further his musical career, working construction jobs by day and gigging by night where he would join local group the Royaltones.
After more gigs and getting recognized for his chops, by 1967 Babbitt was working as a session musician at several Detroit studios except for Motown, which was still using bassist James Jamerson for its assembly line of hits. By the '70s he had gotten into Motown, though.
In 1973 Babbitt relocated to New York to work with Barry Manilow, Bonnie Raitt, Frank Sinatra and Bette Midler among others. After a heavy workload with various studio sessions, Babbitt relocated to Nashville in the late '80s and worked with some country artists. Another move to Philadelphia in the early '90s and continued working with musicians including Bobby Rydell. His post-Motown work would also feature credits on albums by Alice Cooper, Yoko Ono, Elton John and even Frank Black.
Last year Babbitt appeared on American Idol, performing during the show's All Motown week and supported contestant Jacob Lusk on his performance of "You're All I Need to Get By."
Fans and fellow musicians took to Twitter this afternoon to express their sadness from Babbitt's passing, including pop rock band Hanson. "Today we lost a friend and collaborator and the world lost an iconic musical force- Bob Babbit RIP," the band tweeted.
"Bob Babbitt, bassist and Funk Brother passed away today," the Motown Museum tweeted. "He can be heard on many Motown hits. Our thoughts are with his loved ones today."
"Now I hear we've lost Bob Babbitt as well," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench tweeted. "Another man who made it everything swing like a mf all by what he was playin underneath."
"RIP Bob Babbitt," Bass Player magazine tweeted. "Thank you for such huge grooves, Bob!"
Babbitt is survived by his wife Ann, two daughters and his son. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.