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Ian Dewhirst

Who Played Bass On Tears Of A Clown....?

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Just having a disussion with a mate and he's curious as to who played bass on "Tears Of A Clown", especially since the record has a curious history. Can anyone confirm who? Also, were there any alternative versions to the original instrumental?

Thanks for your help! :thumbsup:

Ian D :D

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According to his website, Bob Babbitt although the date of recording is suggested as 1970 when I always understood it's a 1967 cut. Was listening to it earlier today and the bass lines lack the embelishments associated with either James Jamerson or Carole Kaye so I think it's correct.

http://www.bobbabbitt.com/disc.htm

Edited by autumnstoned

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sounds like a calliope (essentially a bunch of different pitched whistles controlled by a keyboard) but i don't know if it's a real one or something simulating it.

edit, just youtubed calliope, probably a small one such as this

Edited by Kris Holmes

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Wasn't "Tears of a Clown" lifted from an earlier (1967) album for UK 45 release in July 1970. When it went to No.1 here on the pop charts, the track started getting US radio plays. So Motown scheduled it for a US 45 release but added a few new bits to the backing track to 'freshen it up'. It was issued as a US 45 in September 1970 & made it onto the US R&B chart on 24th October.

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Wasn't "Tears of a Clown" lifted from an earlier (1967) album for UK 45 release in July 1970. When it went to No.1 here on the pop charts, the track started getting US radio plays. So Motown scheduled it for a US 45 release but added a few new bits to the backing track to 'freshen it up'. It was issued as a US 45 in September 1970 & made it onto the US R&B chart on 24th October.

Exactly this. I'm not sure if they changed the bass line, bur Babbitt was the one who we hear on the US 45 version (whether it be from 1967 or 1970). He started on regular Motown recordings in 1967.

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sounds like a calliope (essentially a bunch of different pitched whistles controlled by a keyboard) but i don't know if it's a real one or something simulating it.

edit, just youtubed calliope, probably a small one such as this

Fantastic - I've never heard of this instrument before - could very well be it or, as you say, something simulating it. It was good when Motown experimented in the studio. For example, the "clacking" sound on the intro to Reach Out and the trippy bits in Reflectons.

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"Don't forget the Motor City"

The Tears Of A Clown (Henry Cosby-Stevie Wonder-William Robinson) publ. Jobete

The Miracles; recorded Hitsville-GW, completed 14-Nov-66 ; produced by Henry Cosby, Smokey Robinson ; arranged by Dave Van DePitte, Paul Riser ; [LP version]

29-Aug-67; LP (S): Tamla S276 Make It Happen (retitled The Tears Of A Clown)

29-Aug-67; LP (M): Tamla T276 Make It Happen (retitled The Tears Of A Clown)

May-71; LP (S): Motown MS734 Motown Chartbusters Volume 4

27-Aug-71; LP (S): Tamla T312L One Dozen Roses

16-Jan-74; LP (S): Motown M-793R3 Anthology

16-Dec-91; CD (S): Motown MOTD 5156 The Tears Of A Clown

May-93; CD (S): Spectrum 550 732 2 The Tears Of A Clown [uK]

03-Mar-97; CD (S): Motown 530 774 2 Master Series [uK]

1997; CD (S): Britannia 530 705 Motown: The History: Here To Stay [uK]

02-Nov-98; CD (S): Spectrum 554 148 2 Motown Chartbusters Volume 5 [uK]

25-Apr-00; CD: Spectrum 530 794 2 The Tracks Of My Tears [uK]

Jan-01; CD (S): Singing Machine G8854 Motown Classics - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing Vol. 4 [band track]

Jan-01; CD (S): Singing Machine G8854 Motown Classics - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing Vol. 4

07-May-01; CD (S): Motown 013 183 2 Make It Happen / Special Occasion [uK]

24/09/2002; CD (S): Motown 064 481 2 Ooo Baby Baby: The Anthology

04-Apr-05; CD: Motown 982 8476 Motown Hitsville UK [uK]

30-Jun-06; CD (S): Reader's Digest RDCD 5251-3 The Ultimate Motown Collection - Male Groups

08-Aug-06; CD (S): Motown 02517 03240 Gold

The Miracles; recorded Hitsville-GW, completed 02-Sep-70 ; produced by Henry Cosby, Smokey Robinson ; [45 version]

24-Sep-70; 45 (M): Tamla T 54199 A [1st pressing] [remixed version]

24-Sep-70; 45 (M): Tamla T 54199 A [2nd pressing] [remixed version]

03-Nov-92; CD (M): Motown 37463 6312 2 Hitsville USA The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971

22-Feb-94; CD (M): Motown 37463 6334 2 The 35th Anniversary Collection

25-Oct-95; CD (M): Motown 530 472 2 Anthology / The Best Of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

1997; CD (M): DPSM 5241 The Complete Motown Anthology Vol 5

10-Feb-98; CD (M): Motown 530 857 2 The Ultimate Collection

27-Jun-08; CD (M): Hip-O Select B0011056-02 The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 10 1970

The Miracles; recorded live Carter Barron Amphitheater, Washington, 16/07/1972 ; produced by Smokey Robinson

08-Dec-72; LP (S): Tamla T320D 1957-1972

Dec-04; CD (S): Hip-O Select B0003633-02 The Live Collection

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Just got this from the guy I was discussing this with last night......

"I'm pretty sure it was Tony Newton who did the original session in '66 (I found his website and emailed him, and he's replied to confirm this). He was playing live with Smokey Robinsons & The Miracles at the time and was also the bass player who came to the UK with the Motown Review (Jamerson busy with studio work). So it was this version that was the UK single in '70".

Ian D :D

Edited by Ian Dewhirst

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The original idea for the song pre-dates 1967 but I'm not sure how much by. Stevie Wonder approached Smokey with elements of the tune and Smokey thought it had a fairground type sound. That's where the clown association began. Smokey at that time must of had something of an obsession with Pagliacci and so the Tears of a Clown was born. (My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down) How many other soul tracks manage to include the name Pagliacci??

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The original idea for the song pre-dates 1967 but I'm not sure how much by. Stevie Wonder approached Smokey with elements of the tune and Smokey thought it had a fairground type sound. That's where the clown association began. Smokey at that time must of had something of an obsession with Pagliacci and so the Tears of a Clown was born. (My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down) How many other soul tracks manage to include the name Pagliacci??

It's funny isn't it? It's taken me the best part of 45 years to actually understand that line of the song. It wasn't until my mate explained it last night that the penny actually dropped. Smokey at his lyrical best plus I love the way he 'sampled' one of his own previous songs......

Ian D :D

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It's funny isn't it? It's taken me the best part of 45 years to actually understand that line of the song. It wasn't until my mate explained it last night that the penny actually dropped. Smokey at his lyrical best plus I love the way he 'sampled' one of his own previous songs......

Ian D :D

I'm pretty sure that the use of Pagliacci in his lyrics would have gone some way to prompt Dylan to refer to Smokey Robinson as "America's greatest living poet"

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The original idea for the song pre-dates 1967 but I'm not sure how much by. Stevie Wonder approached Smokey with elements of the tune and Smokey thought it had a fairground type sound. That's where the clown association began. Smokey at that time must of had something of an obsession with Pagliacci and so the Tears of a Clown was born. (My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down) How many other soul tracks manage to include the name Pagliacci??

A track came on the cd in the van yesterday, and i was wondering the same thing myself, there must be a few. don't know who played base on tears of a clown, sorry. Edited by gogger

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Fantastic - I've never heard of this instrument before - could very well be it or, as you say, something simulating it. It was good when Motown experimented in the studio. For example, the "clacking" sound on the intro to Reach Out and the trippy bits in Reflectons.

the clacking sound is someone hitting chairs/seats as for the trippy bits on refelections i cant remember i'm sure it was discussed on soulful detroit what it was

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well, the information you have all read, concerning bob babbitt, is that in fact it WAS him on toac....how can this possibly be a confusing issue people??

....its listed in his official discography 1970....toac was released in the states 09/24/1970 on tamla54199A...released in uk on 9/11/1970. it was originally recorded 09/11/1966...the remix dates are unknown. quote from bartlette publishing " off the record"

"SEVERAL DIFFERENT TAKES OF THE SONG ARE IN CIRCULATION, THE MONO EDITION OF THE LP FOR EXAMPLE FEATURING AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT VERSION TO THE FAMILIAR STEREO SINGLE".

toac appeared on the lp "MAKE IT HAPPEN" in august, 1967, feb 1968 in the uk...it is motown's 4th best selling single...EVER!

the reason it took til 1970 was quite simply because berry gordy overlooked it, it wasnt squirreled away in the vaults, it was on a legit lp and nobody paid any attention...

according to terry wilson's book; tamla motown, the stories behind the singles, james jamerson's trademark jams are on it, so that adds another dimension to the requisite that it took 40 takes to get the track how smokey wanted it.

IF ITS A RUMOUR, THEN LETS SQUASH IT NOW,...ACCORDING TO ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION..NOBODY ELSE WAS INVOLVED IN THE BASSLINE OF THIS SONG...ITS IN BLACK & WHITE THAT BOB BABBITT PERFORMED ON IT AND THAT THERE WAS ALSO INVOLVEMENT FROM JAMERSON.

Edited by AGENTSMITH

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Bob Babbit's obit was in the Chicago Tribune newspaper today and it said he did the bass line on "Tears Of A Clown"

In Terry Wilson's "Tamla Motown", he credits Jamerson with the bass line.

The controversy continues .....

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Bob Babbit's obit was in the Chicago Tribune newspaper today and it said he did the bass line on "Tears Of A Clown"

In Terry Wilson's "Tamla Motown", he credits Jamerson with the bass line.

The controversy continues .....

And who's Tony Newton then? I could always get my mate to drop him another line to inform that he DIDN'T play that bassline even though Tony Newton says he did. This seems to happen quite a lot with bassists LOL.....

Ian D :D

Edited by Ian Dewhirst

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The original idea for the song pre-dates 1967 but I'm not sure how much by. Stevie Wonder approached Smokey with elements of the tune and Smokey thought it had a fairground type sound. That's where the clown association began. Smokey at that time must of had something of an obsession with Pagliacci and so the Tears of a Clown was born. (My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down) How many other soul tracks manage to include the name Pagliacci??

Smokey wrote "My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down" in 1964, and "Tears of a Clown" in 1966. There were 2 years between. And only 2 of his hundreds of songs mention Pagliacci. So, I wouldn't guess that he was 'fixated" with that thought for the whole 2 years.

As to "Tears of A Clown" by The Miracles, it's clear that both Jamerson and Babbitt played on versions of that song. The question is which of them (or when can both) be heard on which versions. I'm still unclear as to whether or not Babbitt was playing on the 1966 recording for the US LP, and whether his new playing was tracked over the original to embelish it for the 1970 US 45 release.

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......... who's Tony Newton then?

Tony Newton was a Motown studio musician who moved onto work with HDH after they split with Motown.

He played on most (well very many at least) Invictus / Hot Wax tracks from the inception of those labels through into the 70's.

As the original version of this track was laid down in 1966 & then 'extra' musical bits were added in 1970 .... I'm sure both guys played on the track (though not at the same time).

Edited by Roburt

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RE: .toac was released in uk on 9/11/1970 (by that I take it you mean 11th Sept 70) ........

Guess Dr. Who & the Tardis were involved then as TOAC entered the UK Top 50 Singles Chart on 1st August 1970, almost 6 weeks before you had the 45 getting released. After its early August debut, it stayed on the chart into November.

Edited by Roburt

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And who's Tony Newton then? I could always get my mate to drop him another line to inform that he DIDN'T play that bassline even though Tony Newton says he did.

Ian D :D

OK, I just googled him. Blimey. He has a pretty impressive discography and claims that he and James Jamerson 'double bassed' on many key sessions. No mention of "Tears Of A Clown" that I can see though, but I guess some of those sessions were murky, especially if there were several takes of a song (as we know there were in tons of cases). They probably all played on different versions of it I guess. I've got the Motown session listings here but I don't think they actually list the players......

His website's a 'lil clunky but there's some interesting stuff on there....

http://www.novastarinteractive.com/TonyNewton_BassBio.htm

Ian D :D

Edited by Ian Dewhirst

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Absolutely right Dave, it was released in the UK towards the end of July 1970.

I would imagine that being a UK project, another track, 'You Must Be Love', from that same 1966 LP was put on the 'b' side. Maybe someone intervened? and suggested that Smokey's latest US single 'Who's Gonna Take The Blame' should replace it, which is clearly what happened. All speculation.

Quite obviously the phenomenal UK success led to a rerecording of the track in September for the US market which resulted in its release in the October of that year. There could clearly have been several different bass players involved. It would be surprising if the bass player on the 1966 session was the same as that of the 1970 cut.

I am SPARTACUS!

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OK, I just googled him. Blimey. He has a pretty impressive discography and claims that he and James Jamerson 'double bassed' on many key sessions. No mention of "Tears Of A Clown" that I can see though, but I guess some of those sessions were murky, especially if there were several takes of a song (as we know there were in tons of cases). They probably all played on different versions of it I guess. I've got the Motown session listings here but I don't think they actually list the players......

His website's a 'lil clunky but there's some interesting stuff on there....

http://www.novastari...ton_BassBio.htm

Ian D :D

ian,

just quoting what is dictated in the bartlette publication which is a good many years older then our british representation, the ere were OVER 40 TAKES, so its highly likely knowing what we know about the well being of jamerson, that HE would have featured during this strung out labour of love, but perhaps we can summise that he must have had a bad day and didnt show at the final cut, hence bob babbitt plays on it and gets the credit, fully deserved of course....its also in black and white that this record did not appear on vinyl until 1970 despite the track being over 3 years old...and became the hit that it did off the back of its popularity in the clubs here, only when berry gordy was made aware of this fact did he wake up to the possibility of an unforeseen moneyspinner......good job he did, smokey may never have realised a number 1 and the subsequent re-releases of other tracks that charted here giving him belated fame that he had fought hard for in the 60's.

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its also in black and white that this record did not appear on vinyl until 1970 despite the track being over 3 years old...

The original version and the one which hit No.1 in the UK was on the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles vinyl LP "Make It Happen" in 1967 though....

http://www.discogs.com/Smokey-Robinson-The-Miracles-Make-It-Happen/release/3367476

.....I presume this is correct?

Ian D :D

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You will no doubt always have someone claiming they did this session or that session in the hope that no one can remember from 40 plus years ago.   I wonder how many session musicians kept accurate records of what hey did?  No doubt many were just having a breeze gettin paid to play music and all the action that went with being a well know musician around town, the drink, drugs, women etc.

I presume the record company kept records mind?

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The original version and the one which hit No.1 in the UK was on the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles vinyl LP "Make It Happen" in 1967 though....

http://www.discogs.c...release/3367476

.....I presume this is correct?

Ian D :D

correct mr.dewhirst,

all the reputable edicts state this fact....it was primarily an lp track, though just how good it was in the eyes of those in the seat of power and their incomprehensible ability to have blindsided it for a quite staggering period of time, will forever be an unanswerable question....the execs did however have the good grace to pay attention to the beckoning of the people who really matter......the record buying public of 1970

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The original idea for the song pre-dates 1967 but I'm not sure how much by. Stevie Wonder approached Smokey with elements of the tune and Smokey thought it had a fairground type sound. That's where the clown association began. Smokey at that time must of had something of an obsession with Pagliacci and so the Tears of a Clown was born. (My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down) How many other soul tracks manage to include the name Pagliacci??

How about Bobby Garrett - I Can't Get Away?

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