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Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell 11/2017

November 27, 2017 – Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell (the Young Rascals) was born on the 29th of December 1950 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Popwell started his career in the ’60s. He quickly got work in the jazz and R&B worlds.

As a member of the house band The Macon Rhythm Section (with Johnny Sandlin, Pete Carr, Paul Hornsby and Jim Hawkins) for the Capricorn Records Studio in Macon Georgia, from 1968 he recorded with Doris Duke, Hubert Laws, Deryll Inman, The Atlanta Disco Band, Johnny Jenkins, and Livingston Taylor.

When the need for an inhouse session group became less of a need and the studio disbanded  the Macon Rhythm Section, Popwell moved on to gigs recording for The Young Rascals on their albums Peaceful World and The Island of Real and then joining the fusion group The Crusaders, with whom he would record and tour for most of the seventies.

When we built the studio in Macon, we expected to follow the model set by Stax in Memphis with Booker T & the MGs and Fame in Muscle Shoals with their rhythm section.  Artists and Producers would come in to use our studio and our players.  We did a lot of recordings this way including Livingston Taylor’s first album, The Tim Harden Bird On A Wire LP, Irma Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Jeff Beck, and a lot of albums produced by Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams.  But Capricorn Records was signing a lot of self contained groups such as The Allman Brothers Band, The Wet Willie Band, and Cowboy, and things began to go in a different direction.  As more and more studio time was being consumed by the groups, a staff rhythm section was harder to justify, and they were disbanded.  But it was these four guys and me for many long and fondly remembered days and nights the first couple of years.- Jim Hawkins

“Pops” Popwell and monster guitarist Larry Carlton joined the band at the same time guiding the band into a new musical direction, and were featured on the group’s albums throughout most of the 1970s. With this new style came increased crossover appeal, and the group’s recordings started to appear on the Billboard pop charts. The height of the group’s commercial success came with 1979’s Street Life, with Randy Crawford as featured singer, which peaked at No. 18 on the pop album charts and the title track from the album made the Top 10 on the R&B chart and No. 36 on Billboard′s Hot 100 chart.

Robert also performed with several rock and R&B groups, throughout his career, (live and in the studio) including  Ron Wood, Bobby Womack, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Greg Allman, Les Dudek and Randy Crawford, amongst others.

Popwell’s other recording credits include Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Terry Bradds and more. Showing his versatility, the bassist also toured with artists like Bette Midler and Olivia Newton-John. He’s featured in the film Hard to Hold with Rick Springfield.

Robert toured with Bette Midler and Olivia Newton-John and appeared in the movie ‘Hard to Hold’ with Rick Springfield. He also penned the track ‘Feelin Funky’ on The Crusaders album ‘Those Southern Knights’ in 1976.

Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell died at the age of 66 on November 27, 2017 from a heart attack.

Check out Popwell and Terry Bradds nonchalantly sit  back while performing Herbie Hancock’s ” Cantelope Island”.

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