MO FOSTER English multi-instrumentalist nous a quittés RIP


Michael Ralph “Mo” Foster (22 December 1944 – 3 July 2023) was an English multi-instrumentalist, record producer, composer, solo artist, author, and public speaker. Through a career spanning over half a century, Foster toured, recorded, and performed with dozens of artists, including Jeff BeckGil EvansPhil CollinsRingo StarrJoan ArmatradingGerry RaffertyBrian MayScott WalkerFrida of ABBACliff RichardGeorge MartinVan MorrisonDr JohnHank MarvinHeaven 17 and the London Symphony Orchestra. He released several albums under his own name, authored a humorous book on the history of British rock guitar, written numerous articles for music publications, continued to compose production music, and established himself as a public speaker. Foster was an assessor for JAMES, an industry organisation that gives accreditation to music colleges throughout the United Kingdom.[1] In 2014, Foster was a recipient of a BASCA Gold Badge Award to honour his lifelong contribution to the British songwriting and composing community.[2][3]

Early years[edit]

Mo Foster grew up in the post-war environment of Wolverhampton, a large town in the industrial English West Midlands. Although not having any music in the home, he picked up the recorder at school when he was about nine years old and taught himself.[4]: 1–2 

When he graduated from his primary school in Wolverhampton to the grammar school in the village of BrewoodStaffordshire, there was no music department. He could study Latin, art, science, English, mathematics, and agriculture – but not music.[4]: 2 

In 1959, Foster and a group of school friends formed a band called The Tradewinds.[5][6] Their repertoire initially consisted of American guitar instrumentals, skiffle, and excerpts from The Goon Show.

The band needed a bass-player, so Foster set out to convert a cheap acoustic guitar into a bass guitar. The pick-up consisted of two ex-military headphones squeezed into a transparent plastic soap-dish, which was then connected by TV aerial cable to a socket marked “gram” at the back of his Dad’s large Murphy radio.[4]: 67  It worked, but failed to impress his friends.

In June 1959, the ban on the import of American musical instruments into the UK, which had been introduced by the British Board of Trade in 1951, was lifted and such instruments (notably Fender and Gibson guitars) became available soon after that.[7] Foster had become a fan of the bass playing of Jet Harris of The Shadows, but had not seen the actual instrument until 1961, when Jet was revealed casually caressing the iconic headstock of a Fender Precision Bass on the cover of The Shadows LP. Foster wanted one, but had to settle for a Dallas Tuxedo Bass,[8] the solitary bass guitar hanging in the window of the local music shop, the Band Box.[4]: 112 

In the early 1960s, there were no college music courses available for electric instruments, so Foster followed a scientific path, electing to study physics and mathematics at the University of Sussex.[4]: 125  But the university’s pop band, The Baskervilles,[9] and later the University of Sussex Jazz Trio (known as the US Jazz Trio),[10] needed a drummer.[4]: 126–127  So Foster set aside his bass, and for the next three years he played drums at university dances and balls, supporting major acts such as CreamGeorgie Fame and the Blue FlamesThe WhoThe Graham Bond OrganisationThe ZombiesJimi HendrixThe Moody BluesPink Floyd, and Steampacket with Rod StewartLong John BaldryJulie Driscoll and Brian Auger.[4]: 126 

Foster’s first professional success came in 1968, when the US Jazz Trio morphed into the progressive jazz/rock band, Affinity, with singer Linda HoyleHammond organist Lynton Naiff, guitarist Mike Jopp, drummer Grant Serpell, and Foster, now back on bass guitar. Affinity played numerous London gigs[11][12] and radio sessions, attracting the attention of jazz club impresario, Ronnie Scott, who became their manager.[4]: 131  Scott secured a record deal with Vertigo Records who chose John Anthony, who had produced albums for GenesisQueen and Roxy Music, to produce their one, eponymous albumLed Zeppelin‘s John Paul Jones wrote brass and string arrangements for the collection of self-penned tracks and cover-versions.[13] The album was released in 1970, to a strong reception from the press and broadcasters.[14] However, despite television appearances, and concerts across Europe, the album didn’t sell well, and Linda Hoyle chose not to continue, re-appearing with a solo album in 1971. Soon after, the band dissolved, leaving Foster to seek employment as a freelance bass guitarist.

Session years[edit]

After Affinity played their last gig in 1970 Foster decided that rather than being an over-educated but unemployed musician he needed to join another band. He placed a classified ad in Melody Maker magazine stating “Bass Guitarist: ex-name group, wishes to join established Family/Colosseum/Traffic type group”.[15] He expected no response, but a music producer called Christos Demetriou (i.e. Chris Demetriou) unexpectedly called and offered him a job with ex-Manfred Mann singer Mike d’Abo‘s band. After touring with the band both in the US and in the UK, Foster’s name started to get around. In 1971 he was hired to do a studio session for a Russ Ballard song, “Can’t Let You Go” at Lansdowne Studios. “I knew nothing and turned up with a flask and sandwiches because I didn’t know how long I’d be there for. There was Clem Cattini on drums, Ray Cooper on percussion, Mike Moran on keyboards, Ray Fenwick on guitar, all fine players and nice guys who thought my naiveté was amusing! That was the beginning of a word of mouth situation which gradually mushroomed.”[16] The European disco scene was growing and session work was increasing and Foster was hired to play on a lot of the popular hits of the time including Jimmy Helms‘ “Gonna Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse” and Cerrone‘s hit “Supernature“.

In his early days as a session player Foster, having been self-taught, could not read music and freely admitted that he bluffed his way through a lot of sessions. Finally at a session at Abbey Road Studios, playing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, it got so difficult to follow the music by listening to the drummer and guitarist that he vowed to teach himself. This he then did.[17]

As a session musician Foster played on over 350 recordings including artists as varied as:

As a sideman Foster toured the world or played concerts with:

During his time as a session player, Foster was asked to work on many film soundtrack sessions including:

In 1975 Foster pioneered the teaching of bass guitar in Britain by founding the first-ever course at Goldsmiths CollegeUniversity of London.[citation needed] As of mid-2007, along with guitarist Ray Russell and drummer Ralph Salmins, Foster embarked on several music seminars at different educational establishments around the UK, the most recent (September 2007) being held at Leeds Metropolitan University. The trio have also been invited to give a similar seminar at the famous Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts music school which was started by Sir Paul McCartney. He has also contributed several articles to bass playing specialist magazines.[16]

One of Foster’s most memorable bass lines was in the theme tune to the late-70s UK TV show “Minder” starring Dennis Waterman. The tune, “I Can Be So Good For You” started out life as a track on Waterman’s solo album, it was then re-jigged as the show’s theme tune. He achieved the atypical bass sound by using an unusual bass slap technique on an aluminium Kramer 650B bass guitar.[32]

Foster cited several well known bassists as being the inspirations to both his playing and his compositions, including Carol Kaye, Jet Harris, Jack Bruce and Stanley Clarke.[16]

Jazz years[edit]

In the mid to late 80s Foster was the ‘M’ in the jazz/rock trio called RMS with fellow session musos, Ray Russell and Simon Phillips. They released (originally on Peter Van Hooke‘s then at the time fledgling MMC record label) an album called Centennial Park[33] which was remastered and re-released in 2002 on the Angel Air record label. This in turn prompted the release of a live album from 1982 that had never been heard publicly before RMS: Live at the Venue, 1982.[34]

As a result of the success of these two CD releases, a DVD (which featured guest appearances by Gil Evans and Mark Isham) was released a year later. RMS: Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1983.[35] Both the CDs and DVD were produced by Foster and Ray Russell.

Solo years[edit]

In the mid-1980s, Foster joined up with comedy writer/actor Mike Walling to form the core of the imaginary, but tragic RJ Wagsmith Band. Together they wrote a chart topping song for Roger Kitter (aka “The Brat”). They also penned what became one of the few one-hit wonders that never actually made it into the charts. “The Papadum Song” was about two losers who go into an Indian restaurant for a meal after a football match. The song got quite considerable airplay and Walling and Foster appeared together on the BBC children’s programmes Blue Peter[36] and Granada TV‘s Get It Together. Unfortunately there was an industrial dispute at Phonogram Records and no records actually got to the shops.

At the latter end of the 1980s Foster decided that he would like the freedom to perform, produce and record his own music rather than that of someone else. He was able to call on some of his many friends who happened to be some of the UK’s foremost session musicians to help him. Since 1987 he has released five solo albums.

Solo albums[edit]

Producer years[edit]

Apart from his five solo albums Foster has produced – or co-produced – albums for Deborah Bonham (The Old Hyde),[37] Dr John (Such A Night), Maggie Bell (Live at the Rainbow),[29] Affinity (Live Instrumentals 19691971–72Origins 1965–67, and Origins Baskervilles 1965), Survivors (Survivors), Maria Muldaur (Live in London), Adrian Legg (Fretmelt), RMS (Centennial ParkLive at the Venue 1982), RMS with Gil Evans (Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1983 DVD), The RJ Wagsmith Band (Make Tea Not War).

In addition Foster composed and produced hundreds of titles for the major Production Music Libraries, co-wrote with Ray Russell the instrumental “So Far Away” for Gary Moore, co-wrote with Mike Walling the comedy hit single “Chalk Dust” for The Brat, co-wrote with Kim Goody the song “Sentimental Again” which reached the final in the Song for Europe Contest in 1990, and co-wrote with Ringo StarrJoe Walsh, and Kim Goody the main song “In My Car” from Ringo’s album Old Wave.[38]

Author years[edit]

In 1997 Foster authored a semi-autobiographical and anecdotal book[39][40] about the birth and rise of Rock guitar in the UK during the period 1955 – 1975.

The book’s title is Seventeen Watts?, the title having arisen from the school band member’s quandary of “do we really need that much power?” when a 17W Watkins Dominator Amplifier was acquired as a replacement for the ‘aging’ 5W amp they had previously been using. The US edition of the book was entitled Play Like Elvis and had a different foreword, this time written by Duane Eddy.

The first half of the book covers the emergence of a new breed of the rock guitarist. It features many anecdotes describing the efforts of now prominent guitarists to not only learn chords but to work out how to build their own guitar because they could not afford the ones in the music shop window. There are stories and quotes from guitarists such as Jeff BeckRitchie BlackmoreJoe BrownClem CattiniEric ClaptonLonnie DoneganVic FlickHerbie FlowersRoger GloverGeorge HarrisonMark KnopflerHank MarvinBrian MayGary MooreJoe MorettiPino PalladinoRick ParfittJohn Paul JonesFrancis RossiGerry RaffertyMike RutherfordBig Jim SullivanAndy SummersRichard ThompsonBert WeedonBruce Welch, and Muff Winwood.

The second half of Seventeen Watts? is devoted to the rise and eventual demise of the London studio session scene. Foster seeks to present an insider’s view of this creative world, and to convey a sense of the absurdist flavour of musicians’ humour.

Later years[edit]

Foster worked as an archivist/interviewer on the UK Channel 4 series Live From Abbey Road,[41] which involved interviewing musicians and bands who were performing live sets at EMI‘s world-famous Abbey Road Studios.

Foster later concentrated on producing albums for others, composing music, session work, playing with Brian May and Brian Bennett on a 12-hour session at Abbey Road Studios for a re-make of Cliff Richard‘s 1958 hit “Move It“),[42] writing, researching and remastering his back catalogue (not only for his solo projects but also for other artists).

Foster also resumed playing concerts with his band RMS, featuring Ray Russell, and Gary Husband – notably with Gary Moore at a charity concert Vibes From The Vines.

In April 2012, Foster performed at the Jet Harris Heritage Foundation tribute lunch with The Shadowers and Daniel Martin on Nivram and Diamonds.


Foster died from liver and bile duct cancer on 3 July 2023, at the age of 78.[43]


The bass-players who have influenced Foster include:

Selected discography[edit]

Foster has played on hundreds of commercially released recordings and soundtracks. The lists below represent only a small fraction of his recorded performances.


Artist Album Label Year
Affinity Affinity Vertigo 1970
Mike d’Abo Down at Rachel’s Place A&M 1972
Olivia Newton-John Music Makes My Day Pye 1973
Roger Glover and Guests The Butterfly Ball EMI 1974
Jimmy Helms Gonna Make You An Offer! Cube 1975
Fancy Something To Remember Arista 1975
Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice Evita MCA 1976
Véronique Sanson Vancouver WEA 1976
Mike Smith & Mike d’Abo Smith & d’Abo CBS 1976
Cerrone Supernature WEA 1977
Ray Russell Ready Or Not Angel Air 1977
Andy Bown Good Advice EMI 1978
The Walker Brothers Nite Flights GTO 1978
Chris Rainbow Looking Over My Shoulder Polydor 1978
Gerry Rafferty Night Owl UA 1979
Chris Rainbow White Trails EMI 1979
Judie Tzuke Welcome to the Cruise Rocket 1979
Dollar Shooting Stars Carrere 1979
Cliff Richard & The Shadows (live) Thank You Very Much EMI 1979
Jeff Beck There And Back Epic 1980
Peter Green Watcha Gonna Do PVK 1980
Michael Schenker The Michael Schenker Group Chrysalis 1980
Dennis Waterman So Good For You EMI 1980
Jeff Beck, Eric ClaptonSting The Secret Policeman’s Concert Island 1981
Phil CollinsBob Geldof etc (live) The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball Island 1981
RMS Centennial Park Angel Air 1981
Trevor Rabin Wolf Chrysalis 1981
Phil Collins Hello, I Must Be Going! Virgin 1982
Frida (Annifrid Lyngstad of ABBA) Something’s Going On Polar 1982
Sheena Easton Madness, Money & Music EMI 1982
Neil Innes Off The Record MMC 1982
Phil Collins (live) Live at Perkins Palace EMI 1983
Gary Moore Victims of the Future 10 1983
Ringo Starr/Joe Walsh Old Wave RCA 1983
Tony Banks (Genesis) The Fugitive Charisma 1983
Gil Evans (live) The British Orchestra Mole Jazz 1983
Leo Sayer Have You Ever Been in Love Chrysalis 1983
Scott Walker Climate of Hunter Virgin 1984
Russ Ballard Russ Ballard EMI 1984
Heaven 17 How Men Are Virgin 1984
Dr John Such A Night/Live in London Spindrift 1984
Claudio Baglioni La Vita E’Adesso CBS 1985
Kenny Rogers The Heart of the Matter RCA 1985
Elkie Brooks No More the Fool Legend 1986
Howard Jones One To One WEA 1986
Virginia Astley Hope in a Darkened Heart WEA 1986
Tanita Tikaram Ancient Heart WEA 1988
Mo Foster Bel Assis Angel Air 1988
George Martin Under Milk Wood EMI 1988
London Symphony Orchestra Wind of Change Columbia 1991
Nanci Griffith Late Night Grande Hotel MCA 1991
Toshi (of X) Made in Heaven Ariola 1992
Gerry Rafferty On A Wind & A Prayer Polydor 1992
Cher It’s A Man’s World WEA 1995
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra The Cult Files Silva Screen 1996
Soraya On Nights Like This Island 1996
Luka Bloom Salty Heaven Sony 1998
Maggie Bell (live) Live at the Rainbow 1974 Angel Air 2002
Deborah Bonham The Old Hyde Track 2004
Cliff Richard and Brian May Two’s Company – The Duets EMI 2006
The Shadows The Shadows Live at the BBC BBC 2018
Mo Foster & Friends (live) In Concert Right Track 2020

Hit singles[edit]

Artist Single Label Year
Jimmy Helms Gonna Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse Cube 1973
Julie Covington Don’t Cry for Me Argentina MCA 1976
Cerrone Supernature WEA 1977
Dollar “Who Were You With in the Moonlight” Trojan 1978
Sarah Brightman “I Lost My Heart To Starship Trooper” Ariola 1978
Gerry Rafferty Night Owl UA 1979
Judy Tzuke Stay with Me till Dawn Rocket 1979
Dennis Waterman I Could Be So Good For You EMI 1979
Jeff Beck “Space Boogie” Epic 1980
Sheena Easton “Nine to Five (Morning Train)” EMI 1981
Frida (ABBA) “I Know There’s Something Going On” Polar 1982
The Brat Chalk Dust – The Umpire Strikes Back Hansa 1982
Gary Moore “Empty Rooms” 10 1983
Ringo Starr/Joe Walsh In My Car RCA 1983
Elkie Brooks No More the Fool Legend 1986
Howard Jones No One Is to Blame WEA 1986
Toshi (of X) “Made in Heaven” Ariola 1992
Cliff Richard/Brian May Move It EMI 2006


On 14 October 2014, Foster was presented with a BASCA Gold Badge Award in recognition of his unique contribution to music.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Mo Foster lived in London, with his wife, Kay.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “JAMES People”Joint Audio Media Education Support (JAMES). Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  2. Jump up to:a b “Gold Badge Awards 2014: Recipients”Ivors Academy. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  3. Jump up to:a b “Gold Badge Awards”Mo Foster. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Foster, Mo (2010). British rock guitar : the first 50 years, the musicians and their stories. Newcastle upon Tyne: Northumbria University Press. ISBN 978-0-85716-000-3OCLC 751747127.
  5. ^ “‘N Between Times”. Archived from the original on 22 March 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2007.
  6. ^ “Trade Winds”. Archived from the original on 9 February 2005. Retrieved 21 September 2007.
  7. ^ “The British Guitar Embargo: When Brits Were Banned from Buying American”Reverb. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  8. ^ “Dallas Tuxedo Bass”The Guitar Collection. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  9. ^ “Baskervilles”Mo Foster. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  10. ^ “Sussex University Jazz Trio”Mo Foster. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  11. ^ “Affinity 1”Mo Foster. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  12. ^ “Affinity 2”Mo Foster. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  13. ^ “Affinity – Affinity”Discogs. 1970. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  14. ^ “Affinity – Affinity”Angel Air. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  15. ^ “The Session Scene”. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2007.
  16. Jump up to:a b c d e f Bassist & Bass Techniques magazine: “Doctor Foster’s Casebook” by Mark Cunningham, October 1996: Transcription Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. Jump up to:a b c Guitarist magazine: “In The Can” by Penny Braybrooke, August 1988. Transcription Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ “Jeff Beck set list archive” Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  19. ^ “The Jeff Beck Bulletin Issue #11” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  20. Jump up to:a b c d Sound International magazine: “Mo Foster: Wide-Ranging and Fretless by Ralph Denyer, June 1981 Transcript Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ “Gary Moore Albums” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  22. ^ “East Meets East by Nigel Kennedy”Artists > Nigel Kennedy > AlbumsArtistdirect. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  23. ^ “Phil Collins: Live at Perkins Palace” 1 June 1983. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  24. ^ Jazz, All About (8 April 2006). “Live at The Montreux Jazz Festival 1983”All About Jazz. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  25. ^ “Mike D’abo solo” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  26. ^ “Mick’s Work with Others”. 31 December 2002. Archived from the original on 31 December 2002. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  27. ^ “Peter Van Hooke, Mo Foster, Van Morrison: Wonderland Tour 1977” Archived from the original (JPG) on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  28. ^ “Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Mo Foster, playing at The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball” Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  29. Jump up to:a b “CD Album – Maggie Bell – Live At The Rainbow 1974” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  30. ^ “Cliff Richard Tour”Mofoster.comKnokkeSweden. 1977. Archived from the original (JPG) on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  31. ^ Guitarist magazine interview with Mo Foster by Gibson Keddie, February 1992 Transcription Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Bassist Magazine: “One of the boys” by Paul Scott, 1998: Transcription Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ “CD Album – RMS – Centennial Park – jazz rock featuring Ray Russell, Mo Foster and Simon Phillips” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  34. ^ “CD Album – RMS – Live At The Venue 1982 – jazz rock fusion featuring Ray Russell and Mo Foster” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  35. ^ “DVD Album – RMS – In Concert with Special Guest Gil Evans – Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1983” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  36. ^ “Blue Peter (TV Series 1958– )” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  37. ^ “Track Records”. Archived from the original on 4 July 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  38. ^ “Old Wave” Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  39. ^ Foster, Mo (1997) [1997]. 17 Watts?: The Birth of British Rock Guitar. London: Sanctuary. ISBN 1-86074-267-X. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
  40. ^ “Mo Foster”IMDb. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  41. ^ “Programmes – Most Popular – All 4”Channel 4. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  42. ^ “Brian May official website” Archived from the original on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  43. ^ “Legendary English Bassist Mo Foster Passes Away at 78”. Bass Magazine. 3 July 2023. Retrieved 3 July 2023.

External links[edit]


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