The Facebook death march keeps marchin’ on, sadly: legendary Nashville bassist Bob Moore has passed away at the age of 88. Bob Moore played bass on so many records, you can’t even really wrap your head around It. He’s the bass player you will hear pretty much every single day of your life, drifting in and out of restaurants, gas stations, bars, or just flipping through your radio dial. Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, the bass intro on Roger Miller’s “King Of The Road,” a bunch of Elvis Presley stuff after Bill Black was no longer in the picture, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marty Robbins, Flatt and Scruggs, Patti Page, Sammy Davis Jr., Julie Andrews, Andy Williams, Connie Francis, Moby Grape, Wayne Newton, Quincy Jones, Burl Ives, the list goes on and on and it’s just ridiculous. He played on more records than any human being who ever lived—17,000 sessions, according to his Wikipedia page.
Bob was a real ornery cuss and there are numerous stories out there (including the time that steel guitarist Curly Chalker smart-mouthed him at a session, and Bob walked over to him and crushed Curly’s right hand with his massive meathook). The online personal drama over the last ten years with Bob and his much-younger wife Kittra could have filled a new volume of Nashville Babylon (condolences go out to Kittra, who put up with an awful lot over the years). Through Kittra, I got to hang out a bit with her and Bob a long time ago, back in the late 1990s/early 2000s. And even though this post could go on for ten million words, such was Bob’s legacy, I’ll just tell one story…
I was hanging out with Bob and Kittra and they wanted to go to the Station Inn to see the Time Jumpers. The Time Jumpers, if you’re not familiar with them, are an all-star Western swing band made of respected musicians around Nashville—Vince Gill, Ranger Doug Green, Paul Franklin, etc. They are really amazing to see live and I highly recommend seeing them if you’re in Nashville and they’re playing.
The bass player of the Time Jumpers at that time, I can’t remember his name, but he was excellent. I mean, he was a really great bass player, as good as all the other musicians on stage. When the band saw that Bob Moore was in the audience, of course, they got him up on stage to sit in on a few numbers.
Without touching the amp, without changing any settings, Bob Moore grabbed the upright bass and started playing. All of a sudden, the bass was twice as loud in the mix. More importantly, with most upright bass players and upright basses, there are notes that jump out louder than others, and “dead spots” as you play up and down the neck. It’s one of the built-in flaws of the upright bass—unless you’re Bob Moore. When Bob took over on bass, not only was the bass suddenly twice as loud, every…single…note…was even in volume and timbre. I watched, and I’m sure my jaw hit the floor. No gimmicks, no gadgets, no fancy pickups or little pedals, it was JUST HIS HANDS.
It was all in his hands. That’s why he got asked to play on 17,000 sessions. All they had to do was stick a microphone in front of the guy, and you had perfect bass for your recording. That had never occurred to me before I saw him play live. But it occurs to me every single time I make a record or produce a band or even put my own hands on an upright bass.
There was only ONE Bob Moore. RIP and condolences to his wife, Kittra.