Morris B.B. Dickerson, bassist and co-founder of War, dies at 71

The bass giant contributed to hits such as Low Rider, Why Can’t We Be Friends? and The Cisco Kid.

Morris BB Dickerson

Photo: Michael Putland / Getty

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Morris B.B. Dickerson, bassist and co-founder of the iconic 70s funk-rock-soul band War, has died at the age of 71.

Dickerson passed away peacefully at a hospital in Long Beach, California last Friday (2 April). According to Billboard, he had been battling a “long, undisclosed” illness for many years.

The bass giant was instrumental in forming the signature crossover sound of War. Some of his best-known contributions can be heard on hits such as Low Rider, Why Can’t We Be Friends? and The Cisco Kid.

He also sang on several tunes, including lead on The World Is A Ghetto, the title track of the band’s No.1 album from 1972.

Born in 1949 in Torrance, California, Dickerson started playing bass at the age of 12. He later joined his uncle, Howard E. Scott, in a band called The Creators.

By 1968, that band evolved into Nightshift, and the following year morphed into Eric Burdon And War, fronted by the former Animals singer.

In 1970, the band released their debut album, Eric Burdon Declares War and followed it up with a double LP, The Black-Man’s Burdon. Burdon left the group that same year in the middle of a European tour, and the band would be renamed War.

After Burdon’s departure, War released over a dozen studio albums. The World Is A Ghetto, Deliver The Word and Why Can’t We Be Friends? were No.1 albums on the US R&B charts in 1972, 1973 and 1975, respectively.

Dickerson left War in 1979, but in the 90s formed Lowrider Band alongside a handful of his former bandmates. While they didn’t release new music, they performed live and toured regularly.

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