Musician Behind Dozens of Major Hits Passes After Long Battle with Cancer, Family in Mourning

December 17, 2018Dec 17, 2018

Remarkable bassist Joe Osborn has passed away, reported the Rolling Stone. Osborn was the bassist for the amazing group of student musicians, the Wrecking Crew, who performed on tracks like Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin."

He was 81 at the time of his passing. Denny Tedesco, the director of the 2008 documentary The Wrecking Crew, confirmed to Rolling Stone to that Osborn died December 14, 2018.

The Louisiana-born artist passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He got his big break as part of Ricky Nelson's backing band in the 1960s, and he played on other hit singles like the Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy,” Grass Roots’ “Midnight Confessions,” the Association’s “Windy,” Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” America’s “Ventura Highway,” and the Carpenters’ “Close to You.”

In addition, he played major theme songs with the Wrecking Crew. They played the original Los Angeles cast recording of Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1974 and the Partridge Family’s hit “I Think I Love You.”

After working with the Wrecking Crew in L.A., he moved to Nashville to work with country artists. He played for Haggard, Reba McEntire, Chet Atkins, and Kenny Rogers. That worked amassed him 53 Number One country hits.

“When I started this documentary, it was very difficult to get to all the players around the country. But there was no way I was not going to make the trip out to meet Joe,” Tedesco wrote on The Wrecking Crew film’s Facebook page.

“He made sure he found time for me to do that interview which was so important to the history of the Wrecking Crew. Over the years, he was always there when we needed him for a concert or screening. Even though he was a quiet man, I could see the sparkle in his eyes when he saw the love of his fans. I called him a gentle bear. He made his impact in Rock and Roll and Country. First called session bass player in two cities; Los Angeles and Nashville. My favorite line from Joe. He was asked why he kept the same strings on his bass for 17 years. His answer, ‘No one told me I was supposed to change them.’ He will truly be missed but not forgotten.”

While there aren't many details about his personal life online, Osborn is survived by at least three children. His son, Darren, also released a statement after his passing.

He wrote, "Thanks from all the Osborn family for all the warmth and support from our friends during this difficult time. Joe is in a beautiful place now. He passed 12-14-18 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by family at his home in Greenwood, Louisiana.”

Please pray for Osborn's family as they mourn his passing. This is such a sad loss.