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Bob Babbitt's Forum  |  Welcome to Bob's Forum!  |  About Bob  |  Papa was a rollin' stone - Who plays the bassline ? « previous next »
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Author Topic: Papa was a rollin' stone - Who plays the bassline ?  (Read 38000 times)
JBFunkyGroove
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« on: August 26, 2008, 10:14:46 AM »

Hello Bob  :)
I'm trying (in vain) to find who created and played for the first time the great bassline of "Papa was a rollin' stone" :
- On the Undisputed Truth version (+/- 3'25") - Single in the beginning of 1972 included on "Law of the land" album (1973) ; was it you, Calvin Earl Hardy or somebody else ?
- On the Temptations version (vocal & instrumental +/- 6'55") - Single (28.9.1972) ; was it you, James Jamerson, Leroy Taylor or somebody else ?
- On the Temptations version (+/- 11'55") - "All Directions" album (1972) ; was it you, James Jamerson, Leroy Taylor or somebody else ?
- On The Funk Brothers version (instrumental +/- 4'50") - "The Best of The Funk Brothers - Millenium Collection" ; was it you, James Jamerson, Leroy Taylor or somebody else ?
I looked at your discographies and i see no indication. Could you please help me !?
Thanks in advance  :)
Best regards,
JBFunkyGroove
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dc007
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2008, 03:51:05 PM »

Interesting question....neither Bob's discography or James Jamerson list this song in their credits. After listening close I hear Jamerson's tone but Babbitt's attack so go figure. Hopefullly Bob will know. Here is a list of bass players at Motown or at least this is what wikipedia reports. There are others but the dates they played are not known. Seeing as how the Temptations version was supposedly cut in 1972

James Jamerson (1959–1972)
Clarence Isabell (1959–1962)
Tony Newton (1963–1967)
Bob Babbitt (1967–1972)
Eddie Watkins (1968–1972)
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Caleb
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2008, 10:21:06 PM »

That's Eddie Watkins on that one!!
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Bob Babbitt
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2008, 07:11:58 PM »

Hey Guys.....The Undisputed Truth version was yours truly....I had first been told that the Temptations version was Leroy Taylor but then Eddie Watkins name was also mentioned to me..
Recently Wah Wah Watkins and I had a discussion about the Papa Was a Rolling Stone session and he told me that Jamerson and myself were both on the session but when producer Norman Whitfield
asked Jamerson to just keep reapting the Bass line that Jamerson got up and walked out of the session...Wah Wah said that Norman ahd me play the line...I tolf this to W
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Bob Babbitt
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2008, 07:27:27 PM »

Hey Guys....I hit post before I was finished...........

I told Wah Wah that I did not remember this but he insisted that is what happened?
As a result if several versions were recorded and the credits had three or four Bass players on the album but did not list who is playing on each cut then there would be confusion as to who played on what?
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jshook
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2008, 01:45:24 PM »

when producer Norman Whitfield asked Jamerson to just keep repeating the Bass line that Jamerson got up and walked out of the session...

 :D

Hi Bob - thanks for that info - I love the track, but NW seemed to want to upset the troops with that session - the Temptations fired him after it for upsetting Dennis Edwards with the reference to 3rd September according to Wikipedia - amazing what goes on behind such gems!

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Bob Babbitt
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2008, 07:25:47 PM »

Jshook...Not sure how true it is that the Temptations fired Norman Whitfield because of some lyrics in a song? That Wikipedia site can be altered by anyone from what I understand...
Besides that, the main reason being that after Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Grammy Award winner for Song of the Year, Norman produced at least 2/3 albums worth of songs, including several hits, Masterpiece, Plastic Man, Law of the Land, United We Stand, and Standing on Shaky Ground....
Bob
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SRT80
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2008, 11:05:25 PM »

There was a movie that aired on VH-1... I think it was titled "The Temptations".  Anyways, it was suppose to be based on a true story.  I remember the scene when it came to the part where Dennis Edwards didn't wanna do the song and wanted the lyrics changed.  It's been awhile since I've seen the movie and can't remember how the outcome was.....based on the movie.

Steve
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2008, 02:48:58 PM »

Hey Steve,

Apparently Dennis Edwards' dad did die on a "third of September" and he thought producer Norman Whitfield was deliberately screwing with him, so Dennis wanted the lyric changed.  Dennis lost the battle, and Whitfield won grammys for both the Tempts' and the instrumental versions of Papa Was A Rollin' Stone.

Seems like Whitfield wanted to showcase musicians, like Dennis Coffey and his wah-wah, more than the Temptations wanted.  Makes sense that the singers would want their voices in the fore front.  ;)

Of course I'm so out of the loop that I have no idea if Whitfield appreciated the Funks and Coffey as much as it seems to me.  ???

Sylvia

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JBFunkyGroove
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2008, 12:18:24 PM »

Hi Bob !
Thanks at last to you and the other people who answered, for your precious "lights" about the question. I just have to add that you are the only bassist credited on the Undisputed Truth's "Law of the land" LP (1973) which included the original version of "Papa was a rollin' stone" (+/- 3'25"). It means that is you who created and played the bassline on this version (which is completely different from the Temptations' version) :-)
It's a real pleasure to talk with you and all the persons who discusse on your forum !
Have a good day :-)
JBFunkyGroove
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Gary G.
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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2008, 08:10:43 PM »

Hi Bob,

As you apparently played on at least two versions of "Papa...", nobody is better qualified than you to settle an argument I had with a keyboard player. He maintains that the famous bass line goes: A-Bb-Db-Db-A-Bb. I say it is A-Bb-Db-Db-Ab-Bb. (Could you provide some manuscript options here (g)?) I know and explained that many old Precisions had a really dead and sharp-sounding low Ab on the E string, like my old 1963 model, which would account for the sound of that note, but my ivory-tinkling friend still swears blind that the second-to-last note is an A. Who is right?


Thanks,

Gary
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Bob Babbitt
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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2008, 07:32:59 PM »



Ab Bb  Db Db Ab Bb
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ohforfour
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2008, 01:18:36 PM »

I, too, love the bassline on "Papa..." whoever did it... wish like hell I could play...

Wanted to comment on the Temptations movie that aired on NBC 10 years ago...  I didn't actually see it until I bought the DVD about 5 years ago.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and watched it over and over again, and then I got to wondering how accurate it was.  So I bought Otis Williams' book (which the movie was supposedly based on), and let me tell you, there was a LOT of artistic license taken in the movie.  There are a LOT of discrepancies/errors of fact in the movie.  And one huge scene was totally made up, which Otis admits to.  The scene at the end where Otis and Melvin go back to Melvin's mother's house, and she has a huge dinner spread laid out for them.. Melvin is in a wheelchair and he goes into the kitchen to retrieve the short ribs that mom forgot in the oven.. and Melvin doesn't come back... Otis and Melvin's mom go into the kitchen and you hear Otis saying "Oh, Blue.." and then they cut to Melvin's funeral.  THAT NEVER HAPPENED.  It was totally fabricated because (according to Otis) Melvin's death was still too fresh in everyone's mind at the time the movie was made.  (Plus, the true story of his passing, while very sad, wasn't that dramatic - although it was indirectly related to all the steroids he took over the years for his knees, at least according to Otis.) And this is just one of MANY discrepancies of fact between the movie and Otis's book.  And I'm not even talking about differing "interpretations" of events that people can have different takes on.  I'm talking about simple errors of fact.  I had a whole list of them at one point, but my home computer died this summer and i didn't back the document up...
(For instance, in real life, Otis's mother died long before the movie implied.  Otis's son did not die during the Temptations' Reunion tour.  He died several months later, and he did not get the word from Blue in their hotel room......)

My point being, enjoy the movie for what it is, but don't accept its contents as historical "facts". 

Also, I've seen an interview with Dennis Edwards that says the scene showing him pissed at Norman because of the 3rd of september line was fabricated.  His dad did NOT die on September 3rd...

Bob, thanks for continuing to make yourself available to the great unwashed.  Your insights are much appreciated...

Terry
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