Bassist Bob Moore, a member of Nashville’s revered “A Team” group of session musicians, has died at age 88.
“Bob Moore’s contributions to American music are incalculable,” Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young said via a statement following Moore’s death. “He was a musical master and the most-recorded bass player in country music history. As a key member of the much-vaunted ‘A-Team’ of Nashville session players, he was both an inspiration and an innovator.”
“He was the heartbeat behind classics including Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy,’ Sammi Smith’s ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night,’ Kenny Rogers’s ‘The Gambler,’ and hundreds of other recordings that changed the course of country music,” added Young. “He once said, ‘Anyone who has heard me play the bass knows my soul.’ We’re fortunate that he shared his soul with us for so many years.”
Moore was also known for the contribution of his signature bass style to enduring country hits including Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” Marty Robbins’s “El Paso,” Conway Twitty’s “Hello, Darlin’,” and numerous other songs.
In 2007, Moore was celebrated by the Country Music Hall of Fame as part of its Nashville Cats series. At that time, Moore estimated that he had played on more than 17,000 songs.
“I’d rather work with everybody in the studio,” he said of his love of studio work during the event. “There’s chemistry and vibes when you play with each other that come across on record and through the wires. There’s a magic in it that can’t be created without everyone being in the studio playing at the same time.”
Moore was born in 1932, grew up in East Nashville, and began performing by age 10. In his mid-teens, he played guitar and bass for blackface group Jamup & Honey. In 1948, he joined Paul Howard & His Arkansas Cotton Pickers. The road work kept coming, and Moore soon found himself performing in bands for Little Jimmy Dickens, Flatt & Scruggs, Cowboy Copas, Eddy Arnold and more.
Eventually, Moore split his time working with Red Foley on Missouri’s Ozark Jubilee and working with Marty Robbins in Nashville. Through Foley, Moore met producer Owen Bradley, and soon became an in-demand session player, playing on records for Arnold, Cline, Lee, Lynn, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Faron Young, Ernest Tubb, and many more. Moore also became one of the core members of Nashville’s illustrious first-call team of session players, dubbed the “A Team.”
Moore also played on several records for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson and others. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he played on Presley songs including “I Need Your Love Tonight,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Little Sister,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and more. In the early 1960s, Moore helped establish Monument Records, including leading sessions for Monument artists such as Roy Orbison. In 1961, Moore earned his own pop hit with a recording of Boudleaux Bryant’s instrumental “Mexico,” released via Monument.
From 1983 until 1985, he also served as a sideman for Lewis. In 2007, the Musicians Hall of Fame inducted Nashville’s A-Team. That year’s inductees included Moore, Harold Bradley, Floyd Cramer, Pete Drake, Ray Edenton, Hank Garland, Buddy Harmon, Tommy Jackson, Grady Martin, Charlie McCoy, Moore, Boots Randolph, Hargus “Pig” Robbins and Jerry Kennedy.