Tom Fowler, the bassist best known for playing with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention as well as Ray Charles, died this week at the age of 73.

Engineer and producer Dennis Moody confirmed the loss in a Facebook post, noting that Fowler died on July 2 from complications of an aneurysm he suffered the previous week. Moody praised Fowler as "one of the most creative, intelligent and wackiest people I've ever met. Tom played bass on a half-dozen Frank Zappa albums, and as well of the last 10 years with Ray Charles. I met Tom and his brother Walt when I was 20 years old. He and I remained friends forever, touring the world and making lots of incredible music."

Arthur Barrow, who played bass for Zappa in the late '70s and early '80s, also mourned the loss of Fowler in a Facebook post. "He was a hero to me," Barrow wrote. "The first time I heard 'Echidna's [Arf (Of You)]' I almost fell over when he played the big 5/16 lick on the bass! I had no idea that a clumsy bass could do such a thing! He was an inspiration for me to buy a bass and start practicing. I have known him since about 1976. RIP old friend — missing you very much."

READ MORE: Top 10 Frank Zappa Albums

Tom Fowler's Life and Career

Born on June 10, 1951, in Salt Lake City, Fowler picked up violin at an early age before switching to bass. He made his recording debut with Zappa on 1973's Over-Nite Sensation, which also featured his brother, Bruce Fowler, on trombone. He appeared on several more Zappa albums throughout the '70s, up to 1978's Studio Tan.

Fowler played bass for several other artists during that time, including George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty and Steve Hackett. He was also part of the jazz fusion band Air Pocket, which featured his brothers Walt (trumpet, miraphon), Bruce (trombone), Steve (alto saxophone, flute) and Ed (bass). He played with Ray Charles from 1993 to 2004 and appeared on his final studio album, the posthumously released Genius Loves Company, which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2005.

Sharing his philosophy on a successful live performance, Fowler told Zappa Books in 2000: "A live situation has to have lots of peaks and valleys and it's a good show, then you can have slow stuff. Ray Charles doing super slow. Frank Zappa and Ray Charles in concert together for the first time, with special guest appearances from Jean-Luc Ponty and It's a Beautiful Day. And there's my life in a one concert nutshell. Fowler Brothers as the opening act. Then we all go to my restaurant and eat something."

In Memoriam: 2024 Deaths

A look at those we've lost in 2024.

Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp

 

More From Q 105.7