As one of the most prolific and influential bass players, Bob Babbitt was best known for the countless recordings he did as part of the Funk Brothers during the heights of Motown in the 60's and 70's. The Pittsburgh-born session ace's most notable bass performances include "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder, "War" by Edwin Starr, "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye, "Band Of Gold" by Freda Payne, "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" and "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" by The Temptations, "Touch Me in the Morning" by Diana Ross and “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely” by The Main Ingredient.
Babbitt passed away in 2012 at the age of 74, but his legacy lives on in his music and now also through the help of a collaborator. Phil Collins had the pleasure of working with Babbitt for his 2010 album Going Back, which was comprised entirely Motown covers and soul classics. A subsequent live DVD was released of Collins, Babbitt and his band performing the album with Going Back - Live At Roseland Ballroom, NYC. Collins was so inspired by his time with Babbitt that years after his passing he decided to purchase a piece of the bassist's history when he acquired his famed 1968 Fender Precision.
Collins wrote this excerpt in the packaging of Going Back:
As Babbitt's son Joe Kreinar explains, "This is a bass my father used mainly from 1968 through 1973. He did use it on further recordings in later years on a Joe Cocker album in 2007, Rod Stewart recordings in 2009, Hanson tracks in 2010, the Peter Frampton record Invisible Man, and the “Standing In The Shadows of Motown” movie soundtrack 2002-03. Was also used when he appeared on American Idol Mar 23rd, 2011, which was the last time he performed publicly."
The bass had been worked on for Babbitt early on by famed luthier Roger Sadowsky, who recalled his upgrades to the instrument, "I installed that bridge on Bob’s bass in the early 80’s when he was in NYC. It was a Stars Guitars Bridge (from San Francisco) and they went out of business around 1982, to the best of my memory. I did a lot of work for Babbitt in the early 80’s when he was in NYC before he moved and continued his career in Nashville."
The following records were recorded with this bass, 1968 Fender Precision:
1) Touch Me In the Morning – Diana Ross
2) Tears of a Clown- Smokey Robinson
3) Signed, Sealed, Delivered- Stevie Wonder
4) Ball of Confusion – The Temptations
5) War – Edwin Starr
6) Then Came You – Dionne Warwick and The Spinners (recorded in Philadelphia)
7) Band of Gold – Freda Payne
8) Mercy, Mercy Me – Marvin Gaye
9) Scorpio – Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band
10) Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips (recorded in NJ)
11) Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed – 100 Proof (Aged in Soul)
12) Smiling Faces – The Undisputed Truth
13) If I Were Your Woman – Gladys Knight and The Pips
14) Stoned Love- The Supremes
15) I Know (I’m Losing You) – Rare Earth
16) Westbound #9 – The Flaming Ember
17) Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) – The Temptations
18) Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor
19) Inner City Blues – Marvin Gaye
20) Good Lovin Ain’t Easy To Come By – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
21) Floy Joy – The Supremes
22) Who’s Gonna Take The Blame – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
23) Baby Let Me Take You In My Arms – The Detroit Emeralds
24) Toast to the Fool – The Dramatics
25) The Bells – The Originals
"There were other records he played on with this bass as well. “Give Me Just A Little More Time” by Chairmen of the Board, “Why Can’t We Be Lovers” by Lamont Dozier, “End of the Road” by Marvin Gaye from 1970, “Surrender” by Diana Ross, “Psychedelic Shack” (w/Jamerson, 2 basses) by The Temptations, “Masterpiece” by The Temptations. This bass was also used on record “Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town” by The Talking Heads."
The bass now proudly remains in Collins' possession and hangs on the main wall of his office.
Information about the bass was provided by Joe Kreinar.