Legendary Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbitt Dies of Cancer
Submitted by Cashbox Canada
If his name doesn’t seem familiar to you, the thumping bass of dozens of Motown hits was his calling card, putting the funk into the Funk Brothers sound. As a member of the un-credited backing band at Motown Studios from 1966-1972, Bob Babbitt was on numerous hits including Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours), Edwin Starr’s ‘War’, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ ‘Tears of A Clown’ and ‘Just My Imagination’ (Running Away With Me) by the Temptations, Marvin Gaye's Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), Edwin Starr's War, Gladys Knight & The Pips' Midnight Train To Georgia and The Capitols' Cool Jerk to name a few tunes.
Babbit was born Robert Kreinar in Pittsburgh in 1937. He got his start playing in nightclubs in his hometown, then finally cutting his first Top Ten hit ‘Flamingo Express’ with the Royaltones in 1961. He caught the ear of the legendary Del Shannon, and became his tour mate which led him to finally land in Detroit City.
Known mainly as a musician’s musician, Babbitt finally got his overdue public recognition with the release in 2002 of the Grammy Winning Film ‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown’. The documentary musical told the stories and had live stage performances of their days as The Funk Brothers, and Babbitt toured in the new century with surviving members of the group. The Funk Brothers backed hit after hit in the basement of the House on Grand, Berry Gordy’s Motown empire. "Bob was a teddy bear of a guy," said former Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum. "And he was an extraordinary musician — a player's player.”
Babbitt's son Joe Kreinar told the Detroit News, 'He was a tough man - strong. He could take pain. Right now I miss him deeply, and it's only been a few hours.’
Bob Babbitt died of brain cancer in Nashville on July 17, 2012. He was 74 years old.