Passings: Nate Neblett, Session Drummer and Co-Founder of New Birth

by VVN Music

Nate Neblett, a very active session drummer and founding member of the group New Birth, has died.

As a session drummer, Neblett worked with a long list of R&B artists including Phyllis Hyman, Patti LaBelle, O.C. Smith, Aretha Franklin and Gary Bartz but he'll, perhaps, be better remembered, as one of the original members of New Birth.

Neblett originally played in The Nite-Liters starting in 1966 and was with them when they had a couple of minor hits such as K-Jee (1971 / #39 Pop / #17 R&B). At the same time, Vernon Bullock, Harvey Fuqua and Tony Churchill started forming the idea of bringing together a number of acts under a single touring name. They brought in the Nite-Liters, the male group The New Sound, the female act Mint Julep and vocalist Alan Frye to form the original version of New Birth.

The original lineup didn't come together as well as expected and, later in 1970, Bullock found the group Love, Peace and Happiness which he brought into the New Birth fold which now was 17 musicians strong.

In 1973, New Birth hit the big times with I Can Understand It, which went to 35 on the Hot 100 and 4 on the R&B singles. They followed with a couple of minor hits before hitting the R&B top ten with It's Been a Long Time (1974 / #66 Pop / #9 R&B). Their biggest hit came a year later with Dream Merchant (1975 / #36 Pop / #1 R&B). The group disbanded in 1979.

Neblett was married to Mallia Franklin, herself a member of Funkadelic and Parlet.

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