Morris “B.B.” Dickerson, a founding member of the band War, has died at the age of 71.
B.B. Dickerson, bassist and vocalist for the funk rock band, passed away peacefully at a Long Beach, Calif., hospital on Friday (April 2) after a long, undisclosed illness, a representative confirms to Billboard.
Dickerson, who was born in 1949 in Torrance, Calif., and got his start on the bass guitar at the age of 12, helped develop War’s signature sound co-writing and playing on tunes like “The Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “Low Rider,” “Summer” and more.
He also sang for the band, and his lead vocal can be heard on War’s hit “The World Is a Ghetto.”
War peaked on the Billboard charts in 1973 with the album The World Is a Ghetto (which went to No. 1) and the single “The Cisco Kid” (No. 2).
Before forming War, Dickerson had performed in a group called The Creators along with his uncle Howard E. Scott. The Creators split during the Vietnam War, and while Dickerson was away in Hawaii, his uncle played with a band that became known as The Nightshift. Dickerson joined them upon his return. That group eventually morphed into the original lineup of War with Eric Burdon, with the track “Spill the Wine” launching War’s career.
Notably, Dickerson was onstage in London in 1970 when Jimi Hendrix joined War for what would end up being his last public performance before he died.
Dickerson is survived by his mother, his uncle and his children.
Donations in his name can be made to MusiCares.