Tributes have poured in to much loved bass player Mo Foster who has died at The Royal Free at the age of 78.

During a career spanning five decades the session guitarist toured and recorded with Phil Collins and Jeff Beck.

He played on more than 400 albums including Collins' Hello I Must Be Going, Frida from ABBA's Something's Going On, film soundtracks of For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and Revenge Of The Pink Panther, and work by Gerry Rafferty, Brian May, Ringo Starr, Cher, Jose Carreras, Elkie Brooks, Nigel Kennedy, Sheena Easton, Meatloaf and Kenny Rogers.

He also played or toured with Van Morrison, Cliff Richard, Sting, Eric Clapton, Dusty Springfield, and Joan Armatrading, performing his final gig on May 2 - shortly after being diagnosed with liver cancer - at Pizza Express in Dean Street with jazz fusion band Mo Foster & Friends.

Lifelong friend and fellow session guitarist Ray Russell celebrated '"a life well lived" in a Facebook post: "There wasn’t a gap of two days between either Mo or I calling each other. Once he was with Frieda of ABBA in Sweden, I was in Italy with Greg Walsh. We spent evenings on the phone talking about everything from music to surreal humour. 

Ham & High: Long time collaborator and fellow musician Ray Russell.Long time collaborator and fellow musician Ray Russell. (Image: Courtesy of the family of Mo Foster)

He added that Mo would "out the groove right in the middle" and "facilitate strong melody lines".

"He was "a master at making the most awful things funny. His values and integrity were emblazoned on anything he wrote and played and composed. An empty chair, a lead waiting to be attached to the Bass and amp that will remain silent. But you will remain long past the song has ended."

In 2004 Mo discovered the original recorded version of Handbags and Gladrags by Manfred Mann in his closet. The song's writer and band's lead vocalist Mike D'Abo posted: "He was an immensely loveable, humorous yet humble character, as well as being a supremely talented bass player. He was fluent in so many different musical genres, although Jazz was always his special passion. I know he’ll be missed by so many other musicians."

Foster who lived in Belsize Park for 45 years, played bass and drums while studying maths and physics at Sussex University in the mid 60s. He quickly rejected life as a lab technician, instead forming prog rock jazz group Affinity which was managed by Ronnie Scott.

Ham & High: Mo Foster with wife KayMo Foster with wife Kay (Image: David Stark)

By 1971 he was a regular session musician, but he also wrote songs including co-writing with Ringo Starr and penning his own album Belsize Lane. Friend and neighbour David Stark who is editor of Songlink International said: "I was roadie for his last gig, I drove him there, and he was struggling, but it was absolutely fantastic."

He said Mo was renowned for his humorous industry anecdotes which he recorded in his book British Rock Guitar. (McNidder and Grace)

"He was just a lovely guy who took no prisoners. Everyone knew him as the big storyteller about everyone in the music business he had played with. He had a million stories and a great sense of humour.

"He was also the top session bass guitarist  - the most well known in the music fraternity if not to the general public. He was revered by all the other session players because he was a lovely character, and a great musician who knew his stuff."

Lyricist Gary Osborne who has written with Elton John and on Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds album, described Mo as "a pro and a trouper to the end".

"Mo was lovely and talented man marinated in the kind of humour that only musicians seem to exude. I had the pleasure of seeing his last ever gig just two months ago. He was barely strong enough to lift his bass and said afterwards that it had "never felt so heavy” but his playing was, as always, immaculate."

Mo Foster 1944-2023 is survived by wife Kay. There will be no funeral service but plans are afoot for a memorial gig and celebration of his life in London.