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1937 - 2018
Since his sound was first heard as clear as a bell cutting through Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man”, Joe Osborn has been a major force in Pop and Country Music. He has recorded literally thousands of songs with artists like the Mamas and the Papas, Johnny Rivers, Simon and Garfunkel, The Carpenters, The Fifth Dimension, The Grass Roots, Glen Campbell, The Association, Neil Young, Barbara Streisand and America -- a Who’s Who of popular music. Over 200 Top 40 pop singles, 17 of which are number 1’s, and over 400 top 40 country singles, over 50 of which are number 1’s, are some of Joe’s most impressive statistics. Joe had a distinctive unique style, sound and tone unmatched by other bass players. When you heard a recording Joe played on, you instantly knew who it was. His playing was confident, yet fluid. He had a natural gift for playing just the right riffs and notes that made the song happen. On the other hand, he knew when to play simple and leave space. (“Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu”). In November of 1963 Eddie Rubin and I were playing at the original Gazzari’s which was a small Italian restaurant with a small dance floor. We had become the hottest spot in LA and thought we should try to do a live recording much like Trini Lopez had done at P.J.’s. So I asked Joe if he would help us out for the two nights of recording. The recordings sounded really good, but we needed to play together more in order for them to sound great. Joe agreed to open the Whisky a Go Go on January 15, 1964 where we recorded “Johnny Rivers Live At The Whisky A Go Go” which contained “Memphis” my first hit single. We recorded four more albums at the Whisky, all of which contained a hit single. My third single “Mountain of Love” was recorded in Studio 3 at Western Recorders. This brought together the famous recording trio of Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel and Joe Osborn. Joe played on all of my albums and went on to be one of the top five bass players of the last 60 years. Joe loved a good joke and had a laid-back, dry sense of humor. I will miss him as a friend and musician.
~ Johnny Rivers
Some Great Sounds of Joe Osborn