Morris "B.B." Dickerson, the bassist and co-founding member of the band War, has died at the age of 71.

The musician’s death was confirmed to Billboard by a family representative. He had reportedly been battling “a long, undisclosed illness” prior to his passing.

Born and raised in Southern California, Dickerson began playing bass at the age of 12. He’d soon latch on with a band called the Creators, which later evolved into another group named the Nightshift. The band was backing football player turned singer Deacon Jones when record producer Jerry Goldstein caught their performance. He’d soon connect them with ex-lead singer of the Animals, Eric Burdon, bringing Eric Burdon and War to life.

The band would tour extensively in 1970, including notably sharing the stage with Jimi Hendrix on what would be the guitarist’s final performance. Burdon would depart soon thereafter, but the wheels of War’s success were already in motion.

Dickerson would stay in the band for 10 years, contributing to their peak of popularity. The musician co-wrote several of the group’s biggest hits, including “Spill the Wine,” “The Cisco Kid,” "Why Can't We Be Friends” and "Low Rider.” Meanwhile, his distinctive bass lines became a calling card of the band’s genre-fusing funk rock sound. He also occasionally sang for the band, including the group’s 1972 hit "The World Is a Ghetto."

War released 12 studio albums during Dickerson’s tenure, with seven of them achieving gold sales status or better. He’d depart the group in 1979, only to reunite with the other founding members in the ‘90s under the pseudonym the Lowrider Band. The name change was a way of circumventing Goldstein, who still held the rights to “War.”

A post to the Lowrider Band's Facebook page honored Dickerson's memory.

 

In Memoriam: 2021 Deaths