Battle bassist and co-founder B.B. Dickerson dies at 71

by -4 views

Few bass strains could be stated to outline a whole West Coast vibe, however Battle co-founder B.B. Dickerson’s funky maneuvers on “Low Rider” — together with a well-placed cowbell — did simply that.

Dickerson, who died Saturday at 71, made his identify driving the underside finish of a seven-man Southern California musical establishment identified for hits together with “Cisco Child,” “Why Can’t We Be Buddies,” “Slippin’ Into Darkness” and “Spill the Wine.”

Howard Scott, Battle co-founder and Dickerson’s uncle, stated that Dickerson died in a Lengthy Seaside retirement residence because of issues from a sequence of strokes.

Sampled by a whole bunch of artists together with Janet Jackson, Kanye West, De La Soul, Mac Miller, Madlib, the Beastie Boys and DJ Quik, the rhythms that Dickerson constructed with drummer Harold Brown and percussionist Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen united the sounds of rock, soul and Latin music to create an essence that was distinctively Californian.

“Some individuals name it ass music, others name it avenue boogie,” Dickerson informed Rolling Stone in 1974 — earlier than touchdown on a single phrase that separated their music from others: “Rhythm. Our rhythm is completely different.”

Born in Torrance and raised in Harbor Metropolis, Morris “B.B.” Dickerson began enjoying piano earlier than he was 5, performing and singing at church. When he was 12, he and Scott, who was 4 years his senior, realized the best way to play bass and guitar. The Vietnam Battle put the band’s plan on maintain after Scott was drafted. Dickerson, 18, moved to Hawaii.

Upon getting back from service and altering their identify to the Evening Shift, the members of Battle obtained a gig backing NFL soccer participant Deacon Jones’ between-season foray into soul music. A type of 1969 units was witnessed by the Animals’ singer Eric Burdon, producer Jerry Goldstein and his enterprise associate Steve Gold, who as founders of Far Out Productions approached the band with the concept of collaborating with Burdon.

However they wanted a brand new bass participant, Scott recalled on the telephone from his residence in Arlington, Texas, in order that they beckoned Dickerson. Somewhat than the Evening Shift, Far Out pitched them on altering their identify to Battle and the following yr the band, which by then additionally included harmonica participant Lee Oskar, joined with Burdon to launch “Eric Burdon Declares Battle.”

The hit that adopted, “Spill the Wine,” set Battle on a musical trajectory that helped outline the sound of Southern California low rider tradition within the Nineteen Seventies. A pure echo of its environment, Battle captured a relaxed essence that coincided with curiosity in cruising, skating and Southern California automotive tradition. Constructed for partying and dancing, its songs teamed pleasure with messages of unity. “Why Can’t We Be Buddies,” with its chant-along refrain and proto-rap vocals, was pushed by Dickerson’s reggae-informed bass melody. The track reached No. 6 on the Billboard Sizzling 100 in summer season 1975.

Scott referred to as Dickerson “some of the distinctive gamers round as a result of he may play syncopated time with syncopated bass licks and syncopated guitar licks — all that stuff we put collectively — and nonetheless sing whereas enjoying all these ninth-notes. He may rock that bass and sing on time.” He achieved it with a laid-back easiness that got here to typify the band’s type.

Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson wrote on Instagram that Battle “was the primary out the gate of these bands you simply couldn’t establish — had been they pop rock (Burdon period)? Have been they LatinX? Soul? Funk? Disco? Which one sings? All of them sing? All on the identical time?!!”

Dickerson as soon as contrasted Battle’s music with extra up-tempo hits by saying that “some music is filled with vitality, like taking velocity… Battle music is like taking a spoon of honey or smoking some actually bad-ass weed.” Dickerson loved his success, spending it on automobiles and indulging within the spoils of pop music success. At one level he owned a Bengal tiger.

After he left the band in 1979, Dickerson stepped away from the musician’s life, moved to San Bernardino and opened a head store. He spent his final years in Lengthy Seaside.

His departure got here because the founding members of Battle started a decades-long authorized battle over rights to their identify. Due to the best way Battle entered into existence, Far Out Productions has lengthy claimed authorized possession of the moniker, and courts have confirmed it. In consequence, all however one member of the unique Battle is barred from touring as — and even mentioning a former affiliation with — Battle when promoting or selling concert events. Dickerson, Scott and others have lengthy been pressured to tour below a distinct identify, which they dubbed the Lowrider Band.

Dickerson was nicely conscious of pop music’s shelf life, he informed The Instances in 1975 as Battle was coming off of a two-year recording hiatus. “It is a killer enterprise as a result of individuals will neglect about you in a minute.”

That actuality was robust on Dickerson, stated his cousin (and Scott’s son) Howard “Scotty” Scott. “He wasn’t actually into the cash facet of issues. He didn’t actually care about that. However one of many issues that he did have an actual drawback with just isn’t having the ability to carry out as Battle. He was like, ‘OK, they personal the publishing, however I can’t even go onstage and say, ‘Hey, I’m who I’m.’”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *