Tom Robb

Tom Robb
Tom Robb in studio.jpeg
Background information
Birth nameThomas James Robb
BornJuly 12, 1948
Passaic, New Jersey
DiedMarch 6, 2006(2006-03-06) (aged 57)
Nashville, Tennessee
Occupation(s)Session musician
Years active1965-2006
Associated acts

Tom Robb (July 12, 1948 – March 6, 2006)[1] was an American session bassist who is best known for his work with acts like Dionne Warwick,[2] Little Richard,[3] Dolly Parton,[citation needed] The Marshall Tucker Band, and many others.[4] He was also the featured bassist on Alicia Bridges' 1978 song, "I Love the Nightlife."[5] Over the course of his career, he played bass on hundreds of records for a wide range of artists in Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee. He also helped create material for television shows, movies, and other publishing projects.[4]

Early life[]

Robb was born and grew up in Passaic, New Jersey. As a child, Robb experienced homelessness and lived with several foster families.[5] In high school, he spent time at the Bonnie Brae Farm for Boys near Basking Ridge, New Jersey. There, he began playing drums and taught himself how to play the bass. In the late 1960s, Robb moved to Greenwich Village in New York where he began playing in bands and doing session work in studios.[4]


Tom Robb (left) with (left to right) Larry Byrum, Barry Beckett, Tammy Wynette, Steve Buckingham, Eddie Bayers, Gene Eichelberger, and Steve Gibson (kneeling).

In 1970, Robb moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he teamed up with Mylon LeFevre, a rock and gospel artist.[2] LeFevre signed with Columbia Records, and formed the "Holy Smoke Doo Dah Band" with Auburn Burrell and J.P. Lauzon on guitar, drummer Marty Simon, Tom Robb on bass and keyboardist Lester Langdale. From 1970 through 1980, he performed alongside acts such as Eric Clapton, Elton John, Billy Joel, Duane Allman, Berry Oakley, Little Richard, and The Who among others.[6][7][8] In 1973, Robb was recruited by Leslie West to join the Leslie West and the Wild West Show for a United States tour. He was filling in for regular bassist, Jack Bruce, who had fallen ill prior to the tour's start.[9][10] From July to August 1973, the group toured the eastern and Midwestern United States alongside acts like Stevie Wonder, Humble Pie, Sly and the Family Stone, and Ted Nugent.[11]

Tom Robb playing with Leslie West and the Wild West Show.

While in Atlanta, Robb did session work with artists like Little Richard,[3] Dionne Warwick, Frankie Miller,[2] Allen Toussaint, Browning Bryant,[12] and Melissa Manchester.[4] In 1978, he was the featured bassist on Alicia Bridges' Grammy-nominated "I Love the Nightlife,"[5] which peaked at number 2 on Billboard's disco chart[13] and at number 5 on the pop chart.[14] The song was produced by Steve Buckingham who remained Robb's friends for more than 30 years till his death.

Tom Robb on bass.

In 1980, Robb moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he worked in numerous studios. He did session work for a wide variety of artists, including Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Eddie Rabbitt, The Winans,[2] Aaron Tippin, Deborah Allen, Vern Gosdin, and many more.[4][5] Robb was also a member of The Marshall Tucker Band from 1985 to 1987.[15][16] Throughout his career, Robb played in hundreds of sessions and worked on television, film, and other publishing projects.[4]

Personal life[]

Robb married singer-songwriter, Melanie Dyer, in 1987, and the couple remained together for 19 years until Robb's death in 2006. The two had no children together. Robb was an avid New York Yankees fan and he enjoyed acquiring sports collectibles. He was also known to be fond of many different animals, especially dogs.[4]

Illness and death[]

In 2004, Robb was diagnosed with liver cancer.[5][17] He died on March 6, 2006, from complications of the disease. On March 25, 2006, a memorial service for Robb was held in the Ford Theatre at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.[4] In a June 2006 article in Bass Player Magazine, Robb's longtime friend and Nashville drummer Eddie Bayers noted, "I loved Tom Robb. He played right in the center of the beat. He wasn’t just in the pocket—he was the whole pair of pants!"[2]

Selected discography[]

Robb was a regular member of Mylon LeFevre's Holy Smoke Doo Dah Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Paul Davis' backing band, and Shirley Eikhard's backing band. He was also the bassist in all of the following recordings:[1][18]

Year Artist/Band Recording/Album Record Label Notes
1971 Mylon Lefevre and the Holy Smoke Doo Dah Band Holy Smoke CBS Records International Rock
1974 Frankie Miller High Life Chrysalis Records Blues
1974 Paul Davis Ride 'Em Cowboy Bang Records Pop
1977 Johnny Nash What a Wonderful World Epic Records Pop
1977 Bobby Jones Soul Set Free Myrrh Records Won a Grammy
1978 Alicia Bridges "I Love the Nightlife" Polydor Records Grammy-nominated (funk, soul)
1978 Mylon LeFevre "Play It as It Lays" Warner Bros. Records Rock
1979 Melissa Manchester Melissa Manchester Arista Records Pop
1980 Dionne Warwick No Night So Long Arista Records Pop
1980 Melissa Manchester For the Working Girl Arista Records Pop
1981 Dionne Warwick "Even a Fool Would Let Go" Arista Records Pop
1982 Crystal Gayle True Love Elektra Records Country
1983 Shirley Caesar Jesus, I Love Calling Your Name Elektra Records Gospel
1983 The Tams Beach Music from The Tams Compleat Records Pop
1983 Melissa Manchester "Whenever I Call You 'Friend'" Arista Records Pop
1984 Eddie Rabbitt The Best Year of My Life Warner Bros. Records Country
1984 Deborah Allen Let Me Be the First RCA Records Country
1985 Tammy Wynette "Sometimes When We Touch" Epic Records Country
1985 John Schneider Tryin' to Outrun the Wind MCA Records Country
1987 Ricky Van Shelton Wild-Eyed Dream Columbia Records Country
1987 Tammy Wynette Higher Ground Columbia Records Country
1988 John Barlow Jarvis Whatever Works MCA Records Jazz
1989 Vern Gosdin Alone Columbia Records Country
1990 Sweethearts of the Rodeo Buffalo Zone Columbia Records Country
1993 Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette Honky Tonk Angels Columbia Records Country
1994 The Winans All Out Warner & Qwest Gospel
1999 Michael Johnson The Very Best of Michael Johnson: Bluer Than Blue (1978–1995) Capitol Records Pop/Rock


  1. ^ a b "Tom Robb". Discogs. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Pomeroy, Dave (1 June 2006). "Tom Robb, 1948-2006". Bass Player. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b White, Charles (14 June 2003). The Life and Times of Little Richard (3rd revised ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 9781783230143.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Nashville session player Tom Robb dies". The Nashville Musician. April 2006. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Thomas James "Tom" Robb". 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  6. ^ Fishwick, Marshall W. (15 June 1987). The God Pumpers: Religion in the Electronic Age. Popular Press. ISBN 978-0879724009.
  7. ^ Brant, Marley (2002). Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story. Billboard Books. p. 76. ISBN 978-0823083213.
  8. ^ "Mylon LeFevre -Sheep In Wolves Clothing - He Is Strong". YouTube. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Leslie West's Wild West Show - Masonic Temple, Detroit July 8, 1973". Haystack Pudding. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Mountain Tour Archive". Comcast. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Mountain Tour Archive" (PDF). Comcast. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  12. ^ Phillips, Dan (22 January 2007). "Wait. . .More Blinded Kindness". Home of the Groove. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 43.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 78.
  15. ^ Woodstock, Luiz (7 April 2010). "The Marshall TUcker Band - Southern rock > Years active 1972-1983-1988-Present" (in Portuguese). Luiz Woodstock. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  16. ^ "Tom Robb". The Marshall Tucker Band. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  17. ^ "Melanie Rose Dyer - Biography". Melanie Dyer. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  18. ^ "Tom Robb". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 April 2015.