Roy Babbington

Roy Babbington (born 8 July 1940 in Kempston, Bedfordshire, England) is a rock and jazz bassist. He became well known for being a member of the Canterbury scene progressive rock/jazz fusion band Soft Machine.


Babbington started his musical career in 1958, playing double bass in local jazz bands. At the age of 17 he took up the post of double bass, doubling on electric guitar (on such numbers as Cliff's 'Move It' on Monday's Rock 'n' Roll evening) with The Leslie Thorp Orchestra at the Aberdeen Beach Ballroom, where he honed his sight reading skills. After moving to London in 1969, he joined the band Delivery, one of the side roots of the Canterbury scene with Phil Miller, Pip Pyle and Lol Coxhill. Also, he began to work as a session musician with jazz/fusion musicians like Michael Gibbs and The Keith Tippett Group (including Elton Dean), appearing on their album Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening (1970) as well as in Tippett's big band project Centipede (1971) and on Dean's album Just Us. When Delivery disbanded in 1971 after an album with Carol Grimes titled Fools Meeting, Babbington joined Nucleus.

He contributed to albums by Alexis Korner, Mike d'Abo, Chris Spedding, folk singers Harvey Andrews and Schunge, and was a part-time member of the bands Solid Gold Cadillac (jazz pianist's Mike Westbrook rock band) and Keith Tippett's Ovary Lodge.

With Soft Machine

Having already contributed additional double bass parts to electric bassist Hugh Hopper's work on the Soft Machine albums Fourth (1971) and Fifth (1972), he finally replaced Hopper fully in the band with the release of their album Seven. He used a six-string Fender VI throughout his tenure with the band. In addition to Seven, he can be heard on BBC Radio 1971-1974, Bundles, Softs and the library music project Rubber Riff (not actually a Soft Machine recording but featuring its members). Babbington's funk- and rock-oriented electric bass playing went along well with Karl Jenkins' and John Marshall's fusion concept of Soft Machine at the time.

After 1976

After leaving Soft Machine, Babbington remained active on the UK jazz scene, playing with Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia, Joe Gallivan's Intercontinental Express and various bands led by pianist Stan Tracey. In 1979, he appeared on the album Welcome to the Cruise by Judie Tzuke. In the 1980s and 90s, he returned to his roots, double bass and pure jazz, and became affectionately known by the musical community as the jazz handbrake. He also worked with Elvis Costello, Carol Grimes, Mose Allison and the BBC Big Band.

In 2008, he played with Soft Machine Legacy[1][2] and has replaced Hugh Hopper as their electric bassist in 2009.[3] Soft Machine Legacy changed their name back to just Soft Machine in 2015.

Personal life

Babbington has a daughter by the name of Nicola Babbington (Pearson) & sons Gary Mery and Nick Babbington.


with Mike D'Abo

  • D'Abo (1970)

with Carol Grimes and Delivery

  • Fools Meeting (1970)

with Mike Cooper

  • Trout Steel (1970)

with Soft Machine

  • Fourth (1971, as a guest)
  • Soft Machine & Heavy Friends - BBC In Concert (1993, as a guest)
  • Fifth (1972, as a guest)
  • NDR Jazz Workshop Hamburg, Germany (1973, released 2010)
  • Seven (1974)
  • Switzerland 74 (1974, released 2015)
  • BBC Radio 1971-1974 (2003, compilation)
  • Bundles (1975)
  • Floating World Live (1975, released 2006)
  • British Tour ยด75 (1975, released 2005)
  • Softs (1976)
  • Triple Echo (1977, compilation)
  • Hidden Details (2018)

with Keith Tippett

  • Dedicated To You, But You Weren't Listening (1971)
  • Blueprint (1972)

with Elton Dean & Just Us

  • Elton Dean (1971)

with Centipede

  • Septober Energy (1971)

with Ian Carr

  • Belladonna (1972)

with The Mike Gibbs Band

  • Just Ahead (1972)

with Harvey Andrews

  • Writer of Songs (1972)
  • Friends of Mine (1973)

with Solid Gold Cadillac

  • Solid Gold Cadillac (1972)
  • Brain Damage (1973)

with Ian Carr / Nucleus

  • Labyrinth (1973)

with Chris Youlden

  • Nowhere Road (1973)

with Sandy Davis

  • Inside Every Fat Man (1974)

with Julian Brook

  • Portrait (1974)

with Intercontinental Express

  • London (1977)

with City Boy

  • Book Early (1978)

as Charles Austin, Roy Babbington & Joe Gallivan

  • Home From Home (1979)

with Graham Collier

with Stan Tracey Quartet

  • South East Assignment (1980)
  • The Poets' Suite (1984)

with Spectrum

  • Tribute To Monk (1982)

with Charlie Rouse

  • Playin' in the Yard (1987)

with Stan Tracey

  • We Still Love You Madly (1989)

with Alan Skidmore Quartet

  • East to West (1992)

with Robert Wyatt

  • Flotsam Jetsam (1994, compilation)

with Geoff Eales

  • Mountains of Fire (1998)

with Elvis Costello

with various artists

with Soft Machine Legacy



  1. Biography at Calyx
  2. Roy Babbington at
  3. Soft Machine Legacy on John Etheridge's web site. Retrieved 2010-01-17
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