This morning on Detroit’s WJR radio, there were several mentions of the passing of Funk Brother Bob Babbitt. It seemed a bit tardy that one of Detroit’s recently passed top studio musicians was being noted in Detroit eight days after his death. Read a surprisingly complete obit here.
I spoke with Babbitt last year for the book I am now completing, Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Five Decades of Rock ‘n Roll in America’s Loudest City.
He was a terrific interview, speaking of growing up in Pittsburgh, coming to Detroit and joining Dearborn rockabilly outfit the Royaltones in 1962, playing for the Mob and finally making it as a studio musician at Motown.
“All the stuff that happened to most of the guys in Detroit, in music overall, no one thought that it would have a lasting impression,” Babbitt said. “People weren’t thinking like that then. And it was easy to think that what was happening in Detroit was happening everywhere. But it wasn’t.”
Then there was his pro wrestling career, which he was surprised to hear in a question.
“I started wrestling wrestled in the minor leagues in Pittsburgh,” he said. “Before I left I heard about Killer Kowalski in Detroit. I got there and then I heard this Kowalski guy had bit someone’s ear off, and I said ‘no, I think I’ll play music.’
Babbitt had a lot more to tell me, and everyone – Hendrix at Motown? - that will make the cut for sure.