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Joe Osborn, bassist with The Wrecking Crew, dies at age 81

Greg Campbell/WireImage for NARASJoe Osborn, who played bass for many years with the acclaimed collective of Los Angeles studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, died Friday of pancreatic cancer at age 81, reports Rolling Stone.

Danny Tedesco, director of the 2008 documentary The Wrecking Crew, confirmed Osborn's death to the magazine and also wrote a tribute to him on the film's official Facebook page.

Osborn served as an L.A. session bassist from 1964 to 1974. Among the many classic hits he played: Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water," The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'," Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy," The Fifth Dimension's "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," The Grass Roots' "Midnight Confessions," The Association's "Windy," Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park," America's "Ventura Highway" and The Carpenters' "Close to You."

As Tedesco explains in his tribute, the Louisiana-born Osborn began his career in the late 1950s playing guitar with rockabilly artist Dale Hawkins, and then spent four years playing bass in Ricky Nelson's band, contributing to such classic songs as "Hello Mary Lou" and "Travelin' Man."

After his stint in L.A., Joe relocated to Nashville, and became a highly sought-after session musician there, backing such artists as Kenny Rogers, Mel Tillis and Hank Williams, Jr. He also appeared on a few Neil Young albums, including the country-flavored Comes a Time and Old Ways.

"Over the years, he was always there when we needed him for a concert or screening [to promote the documentary]," writes Tedesco, whose late father, Tommy, played guitar with the Wrecking Crew.

"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."

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