Funk Brothers bass player Bob Babbitt dies at 74

Associated Press Modified: July 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm •  Published: July 16, 2012
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DETROIT (AP) — Prominent Motown studio musician and Funk Brothers member Bob Babbitt, whose bass playing pounded through the Temptations hit "Ball of Confusion" and Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," has died. He was 74.

Babbitt died Monday of complications from brain cancer in Nashville, Tenn., where he had lived for many years, his manager David Spero said in a statement released by Universal Music, the label in which Babbitt contributed to numerous hit records.

Well-known for decades among musicians, Babbitt laid down bass lines on Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," along with "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye, and Edwin Starr's "War."

"Bob was a teddy bear of a guy," former Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum told the Detroit Free Press. "And he was an extraordinary musician — a player's player."

After leaving Motown, he recorded with Bette Midler, Jim Croce, Bonnie Raitt and Frank Sinatra.

In all, he played on more than 200 top 40 hits, including "Midnight Train to Georgia," by Gladys Knight and the Pips and "Ready to Take a Chance Again" by Barry Manilow.