American musician, arranger, composer, and record producer from Philadelphia.
Born March 2, 1946
Died August 17, 2023
Eli is a founding member and lead guitarist of Philadelphia studio band MFSB. He was a regular session player for Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label in the 1970s. A multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter and arranger, Bobby Eli's contributions can be heard on recordings by many artists, including Teddy Pendergrass, The Jacksons, Chris Brown, David Bowie, Jay-Z, Hall and Oates, Patti LaBelle, Elton John, Phyllis Hyman, B.B. King, Billy Paul, Wilson Pickett, George Clinton, The Spinners, The Temptations, The Stylistics, The Trammps, Curtis Mayfield, and Shaggy. He was a regular session player for Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label in the 1970s.
His credits as a songwriter include million-selling singles, "Love Won't Let Me Wait", by Major Harris (#1 R&B, #5 pop, 1975), which he also produced and arranged; "Just Don't Want To Be Lonely" by the Main Ingredient (#8 R&B, #10 pop, 1974); and Blue Magic's "Sideshow" (#1 R&B, #8 pop, 1974), as well as "Three Ring Circus" (#5 R&B, #36 pop, 1974) for the same group. He is credited with the success of Jackie Moore's #1 disco-dance classic, "This Time Baby" and co-wrote the song by Fat Larry's Band, "Zoom", which climbed to #2 in the UK charts in 1982.
He has also produced, arranged and performed on hit singles for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, William "Poogie" Hart of The Delfonics, The Whispers, Regina Belle, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Dells, Isaac Hayes and Sister Sledge. He has produced two albums for Atlantic Starr, and Rose Royce; and also Deniece Williams' Grammy-nominated album, Love Niecy Style in 2007. He has also worked with El Debarge, Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers and George Clinton, among others. Eli has contributed as a guitarist, arranger, and member of MFSB to the "A Soulful Tale of Two Cities" album project, which joins artists from Motown and Philadelphia International Records.
In 2007, Eli helped to unite three of Philly's most successful lead singers, William Hart of The Delfonics, Ted Mills from Blue Magic, and Russell Thompkins, Jr. of the Stylistics. The project was billed as the "Legendary Tenors of Soul" and featured the three vocalists alternating leads on mostly soul standards. Eli recruited Hall & Oates to join the soul trio for an original track on the CD, All The Way From Philadelphia.
In 2006, Eli opened his own recording facility, "The Grooveyard", in the Philadelphia suburbs.
He also launched his new record label, Groove City Entertainment.