Mo Foster

Mo Foster

Michael Ralph “Mo” Foster, British bass stalwart who played with Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, and others, died July 3. He was 78 and battled cancer of the liver and bile ducts after a stage-four diagnosis in May ’23.

While studying physics and math at the University of Sussex in the mid ’60s, Foster played drums and bass in pub bands. After a brief stint as a lab research assistant, he opted for a career in music and helped form a progressive-jazz/rock group called Affinity. When it disbanded in 1970, Foster placed an ad in Melody Maker, looking for like-minded musicians. It generated a call from former Manfred Mann singer Mike D’Abo, and the two recorded and toured together; the association led to Foster being hired for a session at Lansdowne Studios, in London.

More session work followed and he ultimately did more than 350 studio dates including TV and film sessions for the James Bond and Pink Panther franchises. One of his finest associations was with Beck on the 1980 There and Back album, adding four-string to the FM cut “El Becko” and gorgeous fretless to “The Golden Road.” He also recorded five solo albums and toured or performed live with Beck, Clapton, Collins, Moore, Van Morrison, Sting, Hank Marvin, Cliff Richard, Roger Glover, Leiber & Stoller, and many others.

In 2000, he wrote the acclaimed 17 Watts? The Birth of British Rock Guitar, and followed in 2010 with British Rock Guitar: The First 50 Years, the Musicians and Their Stories.
Of his sideman’s philosophy, Foster told Bass Inside magazine, “Three decades of studio playing has taught me to be aware of the needs of the song, the requirements of the bass line and the actual sound that I’m making… I also realized that if you can play one note beautifully – and in the right place – then you are on the way.”

This article originally appeared in VG’s October 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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