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Roy Babbington retires from Soft Machine

Soft Machine have announced the retirement of bassist Roy Babbington, and that his nominated replacement is Fred Baker. Here is the statement from the band:

RoyBabbington (left. foreground) with John Etheridge, Theo Travis and John Marshall. Photo credit Soft Machine.

“It is with sadness that Soft Machine announce that Roy Babbington is retiring from the band as bass player after playing with the band since 1970. His first recording with Soft Machine was with Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper on the album ‘Fourth’. He formally joined the band as Hugh Hopper’s replacement after ‘Six’ in 1973 and his first live appearance as a full band member was Hamburg on May 17th 1973. His final appearance with the band, after 51 years, was at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London on December 6th 2020, with John Etheridge, Theo Travis and John Marshall. (The longest lasting line-up in the band’s complex history.)His departure is as a result of hand problems making it difficult to play. He is otherwise in good health and wishes to spend more time fishing and gongoozling. Roy has nominated Fred Thelonious Baker as his successor. Fred Baker was a member of Phil Miller’s In Cahoots and played regularly with Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, Pip Pyle and with John Etheridge amongst others. Fred recently deputised for Roy on UK and European dates and will join the band for all dates from 2022.” (statement ends)

Leonardo Pavkovic commented: “What a character and beyond extraordinary Geezer! One of a kind. Long live Uncle Roy Sir Lord Babbington, the British jazz and bass institution. A Legend.”

John Etheridge said: “A sad day for us- they don’t make them like that any more. Character, creativity, eccentricity + musicality and professionalism . A career that goes back the mid fifties ! Mecca ballrooms – playing night after night and picking up skills. He wrote a list of people he has played with – an encyclopaedia.. everyone from Bert Weedon to Frank Sinatra! As well as years with us . So glad we have Fred Baker to fill these big shoes.”

LINK: Soft Machine on Bandcamp

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2 replies »

  1. While I have no idea what gongoozling is, I wish Roy a long and enjoyable retirement. He has earned it, through decades of service to the music.

  2. I think gongoozling is watching canal boats! Best wishes to Roy, a fine bassist and contributor to the music. Fred Baker is a worthy replacement.

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