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Tom Fowler, Bassist for Frank Zappa and Ray Charles, Dead at 73

Tom Fowler, the renowned bassist best known for his work with Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Ray Charles, passed away this week at the age of 73.

Engineer and producer Dennis Moody confirmed Fowler’s death in a heartfelt Facebook post, revealing that Fowler succumbed on July 2 due to complications from an aneurysm he suffered a week prior. Moody remembered Fowler as “one of the most creative, intelligent and wackiest people” he had ever met. “Tom played bass on a half-dozen Frank Zappa albums, and spent the last 10 years playing with Ray Charles. I met Tom and his brother Walt when I was 20 years old. We remained friends forever, touring the world and creating incredible music.”

Arthur Barrow, another bassist for Zappa in the late ’70s and early ’80s, also mourned the loss in a Facebook post. Barrow described Fowler as a personal hero. “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 inspired me to buy a bass and start practicing. I have known him since about 1976. RIP old friend — missing you very much.”

Born on June 10, 1951, in Salt Lake City, Tom Fowler initially learned the violin before switching to bass. He made his debut with Zappa on the 1973 album “Over-Nite Sensation,” which also featured his brother, Bruce Fowler, on trombone. Fowler continued to appear on several of Zappa’s albums throughout the ’70s, including “Studio Tan” in 1978.

Throughout his career, Fowler played bass for various artists such as George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Steve Hackett. Fowler was also a member of the jazz fusion band Air Pocket, which included his brothers Walt on trumpet, Bruce on trombone, Steve on alto saxophone, and Ed on bass. From 1993 to 2004, he played with Ray Charles and contributed to Charles’ final studio album, “Genius Loves Company,” which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2005.

In a 2000 interview with Zappa Books, Fowler shared his philosophy on live performances: “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.”

Fowler’s legacy will live on through the music he created and the countless lives he touched with his talent and personality. His innovative bass lines and dedication to his craft have left an indelible mark on the world of music. He will be deeply missed by fans, friends, and fellow musicians alike.

Source: Facebook