Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson dies at 60

Felecia Henderson
The Detroit News

Louis Johnson, founding member of the R&B/funk band The Brothers Johnson and renown session bassist, died Thursday. He was 60.

The musician's nephew Troy confirmed his death to Rolling Stone but gave no cause of death.

Johnson — born April 13, 1955, in Los Angeles — and his brother, George, started their careers as backing musicians for Billy Preston and Quincy Jones. In 1976, they formed The Brothers Johnson and quickly produced three No. 1 R&B hits —"I'll Be Good to You," "Strawberry Letter 23" and "Stomp."

After the brothers split in the early '80s, Louis Johnson worked as a session bassist for Jones and Michael Jackson, playing on the "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" albums. His skills as a bass player can be heard prominently on "Billie Jean," "Wanna Be Startin Something" and "P.Y.T."

According to rollingstone.com, Johnson — nicknamed "Thunder Thumbs" — is credited with creating the bass line in Michael McDonald's hit "I Keep Forgetting," which was later sampled by Warren G and Nate Dogg in the hit song "Regulate."