Mo Foster obituary

My friend and neighbour Mo Foster, who has died aged 78, was a session bass guitar player in the 1970s and 80s working with such people as Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Gerry Rafferty, Joan Armatrading and Gary Moore.

Over the years he played on a number of hit singles including Don’t Cry for Me Argentina by Julie Covington (1976), I Could Be So Good for You by Dennis Waterman (1979) and No One is to Blame by Howard Jones (1986), as well as on many albums, including Beck’s There and Back (1980) and Collins’s Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982).

Born in Wolverhampton to Ethel (nee Billings), a housewife, and her husband, Charles Foster, a senior manager at Goodyear Tyres, Mo was educated at St Dominic’s grammar school in the village of Brewood, Staffordshire. He then went to Sussex University, where he studied physics before leaving early to follow his musical interests.

In 1959, Mo and a group of schoolfriends formed the Tradewinds, a band whose repertoire consisted of American guitar instrumentals, skiffle songs and excerpts from The Goon Show. At Sussex he played drums for the university’s jazz trio, who served as the support act to visiting musicians such as Cream, the Who and Jimi Hendrix.

Mo moved to London and, after living in various locations, settled in Belsize Park. His first professional success came in 1968 when the jazz trio morphed into the progressive jazz/rock band Affinity with the singer Linda Hoyle, and attracted the attention of the jazz club impresario Ronnie Scott, who became their manager. An album was released in 1970, but did not sell well, leaving Mo to seek employment as a session bass guitarist.

After placing a classified ad in Melody Maker he was unexpectedly offered a job with the former Manfred Mann singer Mike d’Abo’s group, and on his first studio session (for a Russ Ballard song) he worked with Clem Cattini on drums, Ray Cooper on percussion, Mike Moran on keyboards and Ray Fenwick on guitar. He also established a close working relationship with the jazz/rock guitarist Ray Russell, with whom he played his final gig at Pizza Express, Soho, earlier this year.

In his later years he mainly recorded jazz albums, the most recent of which was Mo Foster & Friends in Concert (2021). His last sessions were in August 2022 for Music n the Bones, an album and US film project. The first two tracks from it were released in July.

Mo was also the author of Seventeen Watts?: The First 20 Years of British Rock Guitar (1997), which contained anecdotes from rock musicians about their escapades, with a foreword by Hank Marvin of the Shadows, and a follow-up, British Rock Guitar: The First 50 Years (2011).

In 2014 Mo was honoured with a Gold Badge award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors in recognition of his contribution to music.

He is survived by his wife, Kay (nee Morgan), a New Zealander whom he met at Stringfellows nightclub in 1986 and married the following year.