Ed Rode/Getty ImagesMotown bassist Bob Babbitt, a member of the record label’s legendary studio band the Funk Brothers, **** Monday at a hospice in Nashville at the age of 74, his son tells The Detroit News. Joe Kreinar tells the newspaper his dad had been battling brain cancer for some time.
Babbitt, born Robert Kreiner, began working at Motown in the late 60s when the label’s original studio bassist, James Jamerson, couldn’t keep up with the volume of recording work when he began having health and drinking problems.
Babbitt’s bass can be heard on Edwin Starr’s “War,” Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” the Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” among many other hits.
After Motown founder Berry Gordy moved the label to Los Angeles in 1972, Babbitt continued to work in the Motor City, as well as Philadelphia and NYC, providing bass lines for numerous songs, including the Spinners’ tunes “Rubberband Man” and “Then Came You,” and the Gladys Knight and the Pips classic, "Midnight Train to Georgia."
Babbitt's career also included work with Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Bette Midler, Frank Sinatra, Joe Cocker, Peter Frampton and Rod Stewart. Babbitt played on more than 200 top-40 hits in all.
Babbitt and his fellow Funk Brothers finally gained public recognition with the release of the 2002 part-documentary, part-concert film, Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Following the film's release, Babbitt and the Funk Brothers won two Grammys and he worked with Phil Collins on the singer’s 2010 Motown ****** album, Going Back.
Babbitt made an appearance on American Idol in March 2011 as part of the show’s Motown Week to play bass on contestant Jacob Lusk’s rendition of “You’re All I Need to Get By.”
In addition to his son, Babbitt is also survived by his wife and two daughters.
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