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Bob Babbit

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by MILLHOUSE, Jan 15, 2002.



    Jan 15, 2002
    I read somewhere that bob babbit played the great bass line on Robert Palmers' "every kinda people" and also a number of motown numbers. Has anyone out there got any more info on this guy?
  2. Bob is one of the great unknowns. He played on many No.1 hits. There was a great article on him in Bass Player quite a while back. It may be archived, so try searching their site. He ranks with Carol Kaye, Joe Osborne, David Hood, and James Jamerson as one of the greatest "hitmakers".
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Ya gotta check out & FIND "Scorpio", a Top-10(?) single from Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band!
    The tune is instrumental, clocks in at about 3 minutes & change...& has about a minute & a half BASS SOLO!?
    ...and this was a hit back in circa '72!
    (I found "Scorpio" on one of those Soul Hits Of The '70s "Didn't It Blow Your Mind" compilations).

    Babbitt, IMO, came the 'closest' to Jamerson's vibe(of the guys I've actually heard).
  4. I think the term "underrated" can be applied to Bob Babbit.

    Here are some of the songs he played on:

    "I Just Want to Testify" Parliament
    "We Can Work It Out" Stevie Wonder
    "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" Stevie Wonder
    "War" Edwin Starr
    "Ball of Confusion" The Temptations
    "Tears of a Clown" Smokie Robinson & The Miracles
    "Midnight Train to Georgia" G. Knight and the Pips
    "Then Came You" D. Warwick and the Spinners
    "Every Kind of People" Robert Palmer
    "Rubber Band Man" The Spinners
    "Never Can Say Goodbye" Gloria Gaynor
    "Mercy Mercy Me" Marvin Gaye
    "Inner City Blues" Marvin Gaye
    "I Got a Name" Jim Croce
    "Gone to Hell" Alice Cooper
    "You and Me" Alice Cooper
    "Mama Can't Buy You Love" Elton John

    The list goes on...

    As you can see, he played on big variety of songs. Very talented.;)
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Beat me to it, Jim;)
  6. Festus


    Dec 12, 2001
    London, England.
    It's also worth pointing out that he played on sessions for Alan Douglas, who (as you may or may not know) was Hendrix's 'producer' in the later years of Hendrix's life. After Hendrix died, the slew of material that had been accumulated was turned into a series of albums. Alot of the material wasn't finished. Alan Douglas brought in session musicians to finish rhythm tracks and rhythm guitar.
    One of the bassists was Bob Babbit.
    I have to say I find it quite strange that he said yes to the sessions. In my eyes, Bob playing on Hendrix's records is as sick as Kenny G deciding that he would release a record of him playing over Louis Armstrong's 'What A Wonderful World'.

    I'm sorry, but when there is no acceptable excuse to tamper with the work of a genius. I would question the morality of any musician, regardless of status or skill who accepts the chance to play over a dead man's music.

    How do other people feel?


    Jan 15, 2002
    I made it my business to check out who played on every kind of people - a great bassline in many respects.
    But I got to admit to being shocked that he played on Inner City Blues (Marvin Gaye)! I honestly thought it had James J's grooves all over it!
    I'm gonna check out the tracks mentioned.

    Thanks again, guys!!:
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Hey Brad-
    Do you or do you not have those Dennis Coffey records?

    "Inner City Blues" & "Ball Of Confusion" are happenin'.

    BB with Alice, eh?
    I seem to recall an interview(maybe in Bass Player)...BB was asked to ghost the bass parts on Gene Simmons' solo record.

    Uncle Festus-
    I'm not sure where I stand on that issue. I know I wasn't really pumped up about the G-Meister 'playing with Louis'...thing is, I didn't lose any sleep over it(the powers-to-be are gonna do whatever they want).
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
  10. yeah- Babbitt wrote a letter to BP following Gene Simmons' cover story complaining about his macho attitude, and re. ghosting said that fortunately he had other work so he turned down.

    it was Babbitt who played on "Signed, sealed delivered"? wow.

    I previously thought that Jamerson played that- in fact I've got a tuition video by UK session bassist Paul Westwood in which he plays that line as an example of Jamerson's playing........
  11. Just so everyone knows, I got that list from a feature story in BassPlayer, March/'94. I remember being surprised at some of the songs on that list myself when I first read it.
  12. In that Bass Player article, and in "Standing In The Shadows of Motown", it is stated that Bob was the #2 call bassist behind JJ. When Motown left Detroit, he relocated to NY and Philly, where he played on 200 (!) top 40 hits with artists like Elton John, Stylistics, Bette Midler, Jeff Beck,Meatloaf, Jimi H, Spinners, Chuck Berry, and Englebert Humperdink.
    I'm picking that, as James' understudy, he learnt to play in James' style, so that recording could carry on when James was on the road.
    Bob was also a pro wrestler for many years. Now that would have come in handy!!


    Jan 15, 2002
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Hey, Brad-
    About those Dennis Coffey records...
    ...any chance of a capsule review?

    I know it's been awhile. ;)
    Are the albums all instrumental?
    Any other memories are also welcome.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Jim, I don't really recall much about it, I really keyed in on that Babbitt solo years before I found the album. I'll see if I can find it, I did have some albums that fell prey to an ex-girlfirend's toddler's tricycle.
  16. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I just downloaded it, (scorpio) man i feel like im watching an old episode of shaft or something. ;)

    This song imo has a motownish kinda groove going on. Not sure if its a Jamerson style, as im not too familiar with his work, but it definatly sounds like something outta the motown era. Very nice little bass solo on it too. Its the best part of the song IMO. The overall quality of the bass tone isnt too too bad either considering its from 72. You can hear the distinction between every single note he plays very clearly.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Now all you need to do is step into the Way-Back Machine to really get a sense of how cool this song was waaaay back in 1971:D
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I dunno, that opening(E-A-D-G#-G-F#)still kills me. ;)
    ...& the main groove w/ the percussion!
  19. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    dude i was still suckin my thumb back in 1971. But I suppose your right, I cant really feel the full impact of how good it was back then. You guys were probably like "Man thats bad!!" and probably pretty excited about it. Im just guessing there tho.

    that into is pretty bizarre. i really like the percussion work on this piece.

    Is it me or am I hearing Conga drums or something like that in this one?
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Yep, congas were big back then. In the bands I was in in the later 70's it was common for the entire band to play percussion instruments. Sometimes we'd come onstage playing them and then jump into a song. Ahh... memories:D

    Look for a song called "Peck Ya Neck" by Mandrill. The "horn" line is played on kazoo. It's a fine example of Funk from that period.