Star Philly guitarist, songwriter and music producer BOBBY ELI died on Thursday August 17th . He was aged 77 and no further details are forthcoming. Several sources announced the sad news including the Spinners’ web site (Eli worked extensively with the band). The post read: “Please join the #SpinnersFamily in celebrating the life of legendary #mfsb lead guitarist Bobby Eli, who transitioned today. If the name isn’t familiar, believe us, his sound is. His guitar is a signature on so many classic #phillysoul hits, including many of our own. Celebrate his magnificent musical legacy by playing your Favorite classic Philadelphia soul jams and be enthralled by one of the greatest guitarists in the realm of #soulmusic, and far beyond. He is an ascended master.”
Bobby Eli was born Eli Tatarsky in Philadelphia in 1946 and after mastering the guitar he became a mainstay on the 60’s burgeoning Philly music scene. He played on scores of hits and albums and worked with a who’s who of “names” including the Jacksons, David Bowie, Jay-Z, Hall And Oates, Patti LaBelle, Elton John, B.B. King, Wilson Pickett, George Clinton, the Temptations, Curtis Mayfield, and Shaggy. As part of MFSB, he was also a key component of MFSB – Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International label’s studio band and there are few PIR hits that don’t feature Bobby!
Not just a garlanded guitarist, Bobby Eli was also a song writer and producer. Amongst his writing credits are ‘Love Won’t Let Me Wait’, ‘Just Don’t Want To Be Lovely’, ‘Sideshow’ and ‘Zoom’. As producer/arranger he worked with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the Whispers, Regina Belle, the Dells, Isaac Hayes and many more – including Englebert Humperdinck!
In 1977 he released his own album, ‘Eli’s Second Coming’ and in 2006 he opened his own recording studio, The Grooveyard.
Bobby Eli’s career was lengthy and star-studded. Here we have only touched on just a few of the artists he worked with, the songs he wrote and the recordings he arranged and produced. Little wonder he was inducted into the Musicians Hall Of fame in 2016!