Robert “Pops” Popwell (Crusaders, George Benson)

By Thomas Semioli


His dancing bass solo with Olivia Newton John is legend.


If ever a bassist was aptly named, it was Robert “Pops” Popwell!  A composer, producer, session ace, anchor of the iconic Crusaders, and in-demand sideman – Pops popped, slapped, plucked, glissando-ed, and grooved with a soulful disposition that drew from jazz, funk, rock, blues, gospel and permutations thereof.


Popwell first came to prominence as the anchor of the “Macon Rhythm Section” which included Johnny Sandlin (Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts), Pete Carr, Paul Hornsby, and Jim Hawkins, waxing sides with Doris Duke and Hubert Laws, among others.


The scope of Pop’s canon is remarkable: Rascals, Aretha, Irma Thomas, Eddie Money, Allen Toussaint, Gregg Allman, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, George Benson, Ronnie Wood, Bette Midler, Larry Carlton, Smokey Robinson, Ruth Brown, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, to cite a very, very select few.


Pops’ basslines can be heard in numerous hip-hop samples. A true giant of the instrument…Pops passed in 2017.


Pops Popwell Sound & Vision…

The Crusaders:


“The Spiral” featuring a Pops solo


“Stomp and Buck Dance”


“Fairy Tales”


“Soul Caravan”


The Rascals:


“Be On The Real Side”


“Lucky Day”


Ronnie Wood:


“Worry No More”


Larry Carlton


“Upper Kern”


Lisa Dal Bello


“Day Dream”


George Benson:


“Welcome to My World”


Doris Duke:


“He’s Gone”


Eddie Money:


“Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star”