Bobby Hackney is the Bass Player and lead vocalist for Death. From his early age in elementary school, Bobby wrote and read his poetry in front of his fourth grade class. Bobby got his start on the Bass guitar in 1969 after brother David mischievously sold a guitar that Bobby got for Christmas to a local pawn shop. Instead of re-purchasing the guitar, Bobby placed a lay-away down payment on a Bass guitar that caught his eye. With much practice and determination, by the start of 1971, Bobby was prolific on Bass guitar and with much encouragement from his two brothers, he began to play with them. Continuing to study and learn the Bass, Bobby sought out and studied the styles of Motown’s James Jamerson, John Entwhistle, John Paul Jones, and Jazz Bassmen such as Ron Carter, Charles Mingus, and Stanley Clarke, but what really intrigued Bobby was the Bass Players who could also sing while playing such as Paul McCartney and Jermaine Jackson. So Bobby began to sing and play Bass developing a singing/playing style all of his own. Bobby continued to write Poetry and as he became a better musician, his Bass playing began to complement his poetry writing, matching words to Bass lines and Rhythms, Bobby became a music songwriter, and the main lyricist for all of the Hackney Boys musical endeavors and upon studying intensely the Business side of music, became the groups catalog and archive Director.
David conceived the name and concept for Death 1n 1973. David received the majority of his education on Detroit streets learning from seasoned Blues guitarist, and various Detroit musicians. By the time David was in his mid teens, he had become a prolific guitarist influenced by the styles of Wes Montgomery, Phil Upchurch, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townsend, Todd Rundgren, and Motown session guitarists such as Wah Wah Watson and Dennis Coffey. David could have been, and would have been welcome in any group or band in Detroit, but David’s dream was to form a band with his blood brothers Dannis and Bobby. In 1972, they did form a band with a cousin from Cleveland playing Blues, Funk and Soul. Later in 1973, after becoming a three piece trio they called themselves "RockFire Funk Express" and began to explore the many open avenues of Rock music that was in, and around, and constantly coming to Detroit. By late 1973 the trio became totally immersed in Rock-N-Roll and it was during this time that David convinced the brothers to change the name of the band to Death. From the beginning of the whole Death concept, David, along with his two brothers Dannis and Bobby, wanted it to be clear that the Death concept was not to be a morbid, gory, dark concept, but that their concept of Death would be a spiritual one.
Dannis Hackney the drummer of Death is the engine that provides power to the hard driving Rock-N-Roll sound of Death. Dannis got his start as a drummer by playing on a living room trash can his Mother had purchased from a department store that looked strikingly similar to a floor tom of a drum-set. Turning the trash can upside down and placing two butter knives on the base, made it sound just like a snare drum. One day Mrs. Hackney discovered the many dents from drumsticks on her trash can and helped Dannis to purchase his first full set. With much practice and determination, Dannis went on to become a solid drummer with an unprecedented ability to lock into complex time signatures. With Dannis, its all about, and always will be about the drums. The super sonic drumbeats displayed on "For The Whole World To See" were conceived by Dannis when David and Bobby would describe the sound type they were looking for in songs. If the sound was described as a train rolling, Dannis would emulate that sound in a beat, if the sound was described as a machine or any other sound described, Dannis would emulate the sound in a drumbeat. In 1975 during the recording of the tracks at Detroit’s United Sound Studio, the recording engineers could not stop talking about how tight Dannis played those tracks on the drums.
So you’ve heard of the Detroit band called DEATH that was formed in the 1970s? Maybe you’ve read the New York Times article, or have read reviews in Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine, National Public Radio, The BBC, Melody Magazine and Dazed And Confused , The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, Fader Magazine, or even the Howard Stern Show and you feel that you know the story. Maybe you have heard the great and legendary release of the tracks recorded at Detroit's United
Sounds Recording Studio in 1974/1975 released in 2009 by Drag City Records entitled "FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE". Although all of the above is true and well written regarding the Death story, the half is still yet to be told. All we can tell you is that Death is a strange and wonderful story and all of it has to do with Rock-N-Roll.