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Musician born and raised in Milwaukee now plays bass with Smokey Robinson

"I left a long time ago, but this is home. This is where it all started."
Gary Foote and Smokey Robinson.jpg
Posted at 5:03 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 18:03:05-04

MILWAUKEE — "I left a long time ago, but this is home. This is where it all started," said Gary Foote.

It all started in the Arlington Heights neighborhood where Foote first fell in love with music.

"The memories are flooding back. This neighborhood is what allowed me to travel and I always had this in my heart," he said.

Foote said in his old neighborhood, you would hear everything from Neil Diamond to his brother playing the drums and guitar. He has fond memories of his old Milwaukee neighborhood and shared that he was also "adopted" by the musicians in the Big D.

"It's just kinda amazing that you're able to come from the Midwestern town that's known for cheese and brats and then you make your way to Motown," he said.

Foote has worked with Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson.

"They don't allow anybody in, but in Detroit, all the brothers, they say, you're an honorary Detroit bassist now too," said Foote.

Foote has also worked with artists like Blood, Sweat and Tears, Maxwell and many others. When he's not on tour, he works behind the scenes scoring films and TV commercials.

"We played in every state, we've done over 75 countries. All we do is just tour around the world and play," said Foote.

Even when he's traveling, he always finds a way to incorporate a little bit of home.

"The guys know that if we're in Germany or something they'd be like Gary Bratwurst! So we take the bratwurst, we put 'em in the beer, we boil 'em and then we put 'em on the grill to make 'em crunchy," said Foote.

During this interview with Foote, TMJ4 News ended up at his alma mater, Wisconsin Lutheran High School, which included a surprise appearance from his former music teacher. In 9th grade, Foote did basketball, football and track. In 10th grade, it was all about the music.

"Very first talent show, we played 'Smoke on the Water' and we killed it," said Foote.

While at Wisconsin Lutheran High School, Foote ran into Terry Treuden. Treuden taught Foote how to play music.

"This kid, well he's not a kid anymore, when he was in high school, he was just a natural and in 1979, he was definitely the best musician we had in our jazz ensemble," Treuden said. "He won the Louis Armstrong jazz award that year. "You did us proud, I'll say that."

Milwaukee is proud of its native son and no doubt, Foote is proud of Milwaukee.

"It sounds funny, but I do feel a responsibility to represent Milwaukee at all times, you know, all my friends in New York and LA know about the Milwaukee Bucks, you know, I'm proud of this city and you know we gotta rep."

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