Cincinnati Musicians Respond to Death of Veteran Rock / Blues Organist and DJ Bob Nave


Bob NavePhoto: reported yesterday longtime southwest Ohio musician Bob Nave has passed away. He was 75 years old.

A Hammond organ specialist inspired by Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes, Nave began playing in R&B cover groups in the 1960s. In 1965, while a student at the University of Miami, he became a member of the Oxford, Ohio group Tony and the Bandits, which morphed into The Lemon Pipers.

As part of a recording contract, the band was commissioned to record a song “Bubblegum Pop” outside of their usual more rootsy Rock style. Written by Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz, this song – “Green Tambourine” – would go all the way to # 1 on the Billboard and Checkout cards in early 1968.

The label pressured the Pipers to stick with the more pop sound, which Nave and the other musicians weren’t into. Nave would later say that the group was “ruined by commercial success”. The Lemon Pipers split in 1969.

Nave continued to perform with various groups (including Starstruck and The Crystal River Band) until he retired largely from music in the early 1980s. He dusted off his Hammond organ in the mid 2000s to help form the R & B / Blues group The Blues Merchants, which performed regularly at clubs around Greater Cincinnati and released a pair of albums, including Tattooed with the Blues in 2012, when local singer Amy McFarland led the group. This album included only one cover – the updated version of The Merchants on “Green Tambourine”. Nave took over the lead vocals for the album tracks “Why, Why, Why” and “Ode to Congress”.

Nave had a long-standing presence on local radio, most notably on WVXU, where he hosted a jazz show for over 20 years. According to Kiesewetter, Nave’s “day job” was an investment advisor at a local bank. Nave was also treasurer of the local nonprofit association Play forward, which helps local musicians during times of medical and financial turmoil.

On the website Fandalism, Nave has already answered several questions about his musical life. In response to the question “If you could jam with anyone, who would it be?” Nave recalled one of his favorite musical memories involving one of his music heroes, the guitar legend born in southeast Indiana, Lonnie Mack.

“I always wanted to play in Lonnie Mack’s band. Several years ago I had the opportunity to play with Lonnie for a few nights. It took me 3 days to make myself smile,” wrote Nave. “I know Lonnie’s music and feel like I can play the organ behind him. I loved playing with his pianist, the late Dumpy Rice. Dumpy and I knew how to compliment each other without getting in the way and yet put the rug down for Lonnie to play on. “

Since news of Nave’s death started to spread, there has been a wave of grief, memories and tributes on social media from his fellow musicians and friends.


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