Funk and R&B bassist Louis Johnson died at age 60 on Thursday. His death was confirmed by his nephew Troy on Instagram, though no official statement has been made by his estate. Johnson was a founding member of the Brothers Johnson and a longtime collaborator of Quincy Jones‘. He worked with the legendary producer on albums like Michael Jackson‘s Thriller and Off the Wall, as well as Jones’ own Mellow Madness.
With the Brothers Johnson, the bassist would top the Hot R&B Charts three times with 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” 1977’s “Strawberry Letter 23” and 1980’s “Stomp!” Their highly successful 1976 debut Look Out for #1 was produced by Jones, and by the group’s fourth album (also their fourth to go platinum) Light Up the Night, they counted the King of Pop as one of their backup singers.
“Thunder Thumbs,” as he came to be called, was also one of the pioneers of slap bass, making him an in-demand session player for everyone from Stanley Clarke to Donna Summer. Many of his classic grooves for artists like George Duke and Michael McDonald have also received a second life as some of hip-hop’s most popular samples.
Celebrity tributes have been pouring in as everyone from Questlove to fellow bass legend Bootsy Collins pay their respects to the artist. “He was a dear and beloved friend and brother,” Jones told Rolling Stone, “and I will miss his presence and joy of life every day.”