​Bobby Eli, guitarist behind ‘Disco Inferno’, has died aged 77

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Bobby Eli, the guitarist and songwriter behind disco classics including ‘The Love I Lost’ and ‘Disco Inferno’, has died aged 77.

Eli passed away peacefully at home in Havertown Pennsylvania on Thursday, August 17, his wife told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bobby Eli was a founding member of the Philadelphia International Records house band MFSB, the disco group that helped to develop the sound of R&B and soul from Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and Motown into revered disco classics.

He performed in hundreds of songs recorded at Sigma Sound Studios, such as the O’Jays’ ‘For the Love of Money’ & ‘Love Train’, and McFadden & Whitehead’s ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’.

Eli also played an instrumental part in The Spinners, the smooth soul group hailing from Michigan who recruited Bobby Eli to work on beloved tracks including ‘I’ll Be Around’ and ‘Could It Be I’m Falling in Love’.

The Spinners paid tribute to Eli in an Instagram post over the weekend, calling him “an ascended master”. They said: “If the name isn’t familiar, believe us, his sound is. His guitar is a signature on so many classic #phillysoul hits, including many of our own.”

“Celebrate his magnificent musical legacy by playing your favorite classic Philadelphia soul jams and be enthralled by one of the greatest guitarists in the realm of #soulmusic, and far beyond.”

During his career, Eli worked alongside the likes of David Bowie, Jay-Z, Elton John, and Engelbert Humperdinck, and was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2016.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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