James Jamerson

James Lee Jamerson (January 29, 1936 – August 2, 1983)[3][4] was an American bass player. He was the uncredited bassist on most of the Motown Records hits in the 1960s and early 1970s (Motown did not list session musician credits on their releases until 1971), and is now regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. As a session musician he played on nearly thirty Billboard Hot 100 number one hits, as well as seventy R&B number one hits, more than any other bass player in both categories.

In its special "Bass Player's 100 Greatest Bass Players" issue in 2017, Bass Player Magazine named Jamerson the greatest bass player.[5] In 2011, Jamerson ranked third in the "20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists" in Paste magazine.[6]

James Jamerson
James Jamerson.jpeg
Jamerson in 1964[1][2]
Background information
BornJanuary 29, 1936
Edisto, South Carolina, United States
DiedAugust 2, 1983 (aged 47)
Los Angeles, California
GenresR&B, soul, funk
Occupation(s)Session musician
InstrumentsBass guitar, double bass
Years active1958–1983
LabelsMotown, and others
Associated actsThe Funk Brothers

Early life

A native of Edisto Island (near Charleston), South Carolina,[7] he was born to James Jamerson Sr. and Elizabeth Bacon.[8] He was raised in part by his grandmother who played piano, and his aunt who sang in church choir. As a youngster he was a competent piano player and performed in public. He briefly played the trombone. As a teenager he was a reserved person, and passionate about music. He listened to gospel, blues and jazz music on the radio.[9]


Jamerson moved with his mother to Detroit, Michigan in 1954. He attended Northwestern high school; there he started on the upright bass. He began playing in Detroit area blues and jazz clubs. He was offered a scholarship to study music at Wayne State University, and he declined. After graduating from high school, he continued performing in Detroit clubs. He joined blues singer Washboard Willie's band and toured with Jackie Wilson. His increasingly solid reputation started providing him opportunities for sessions at various local recording studios. Starting in 1959, he found steady work at Berry Gordy's Hitsville U.S.A. studio, home of the Motown record label.[9][10] He played bass on the Marv Johnson single "Come to Me" (1959), John Lee Hooker album Burnin' (1962) and The Reflections' "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet" (1964).[11] There he became a member of a core of studio musicians who informally called themselves The Funk Brothers. This close-knit group of musicians performed on the vast majority of Motown recordings during most of the 1960s. Jamerson's earliest Motown sessions were performed on double bass but, in the early 1960s, he switched to playing an electric Fender Precision Bass for the most part.[9]

Like Jamerson, most of the Funk Brothers were jazz musicians who had been recruited by Gordy. For many years, they maintained a schedule of recording during the day at Motown's small basement "Studio A" (which they nicknamed "the Snakepit"), then playing gigs in jazz clubs at night.[12][13][14] They also occasionally toured the U.S. with Motown artists. For most of their career, however, the Funk Brothers went uncredited on Motown singles and albums, and their pay was considerably less than that received by the main artists or the label, hence their occasional freelance work elsewhere. Eventually, Jamerson was put on retainer with Motown for $1,000 a week (US$7,205 in 2018 dollars[15]), which afforded him and his expanding family a comfortable lifestyle.[10][7][9](pp13–15)

Jamerson's discography at Motown reads as a catalog of soul hits of the 1960s and early 1970s.[16](pp114–115)[17] His work includes Motown hits such as, among hundreds of others, "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes, "My Girl" by The Temptations, "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & the All Stars, "For Once in My Life," "I Was Made To Love Her" by Stevie Wonder, "Going to a Go-Go" by The Miracles, "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Gladys Knight and the Pips, and later by Marvin Gaye, and most of the album What's Going On by Marvin Gaye, "Reach Out I'll Be There" and "Bernadette" by the Four Tops.[18] According to fellow Funk Brothers in the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Gaye was desperate to have Jamerson play on "What's Going On," and went to several bars to find the bassist. When he did, he brought Jamerson to the studio, but Jamerson was too intoxicated to stay upright, so James played the classic line while lying flat on his back.[14][19] He is reported to have played on nearly every Motown recording between 1963 and 1968.[20] He performed on nearly 30 number one hits on the pop charts, surpassing a record commonly attributed to members of The Beatles, and nearly 70 number one hits on the R&B charts.[21]

Style and influence

Get Ready
Bass line of the 1966 Temptations song "Get Ready" as played by Jamerson

Jamerson is noted for expanding the musical style and role of bass playing in popular music of the time, which, (in 1950s and '60s R&B, rock and roll, and country), largely consisted of root notes, fifths and simple, repetitive patterns. By contrast, many of Jamerson's basslines relied heavily on chromatic runs, syncopation, ghost notes and inversions, with frequent use of open strings. His nimble bass playing was considered an integral part of the "Motown Sound". He created melodic lines that were nonetheless locked to the drum groove.[10][13][22]

Jamerson's transition from upright to electric bass was at a time when electric bass was a relatively new instrument, and its use and style of play was not well established.[1](pp83–86) Jamerson's background as a jazz musician and upright bassist informed his playing style, and over time his technique and improvisational approach became more nuanced.[16](p114)[9](p12)[19] By mid-1960s, his style became an indispensable part of the Motown sound and in turn impacted pop music.[3][21]

Bassists who have noted Jamerson's contribution or been influenced by him include Rocco Prestia, Anthony Jackson, Pino Palladino, Paul McCartney, Bob Babbitt, Nathan Watts, Will Lee, Geddy Lee, Chuck Rainey, Marcus Miller, Mike Mills, Phil Chen, John Entwistle, Michael League, Mike Watt, Sting, John Paul Jones, Bernard Odum, Robert DeLeo, Victor Wooten, Glenn Hughes, Tommy Shannon, Suzi Quatro, Ron Asheton, Tony Sales, Peter Cetera, Robert Kool Bell, Bootsy Collins, Michael "Flea" Balzary, Alan Gorrie, Jerry Jemmott, Andy Fraser, Matt Noveskey, Brian Wilson and others.[23][13]

Post-Motown career

Shortly after Motown moved their headquarters to Los Angeles, California in 1972, Jamerson moved there himself and found occasional studio work, but his relationship with Motown officially ended in 1973.[3][10] He went on to perform on such 1970s hits as "Neither One of Us" by Gladys Knight & The Pips (1973), "Boogie Down" (Eddie Kendricks, 1974), "Boogie Fever" (The Sylvers, 1976), "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)" (Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., 1976), and "Heaven Must Have Sent You" (Bonnie Pointer, 1979).[18] He also played on recordings by Robert Palmer (Pressure Drop, 1975), Dennis Coffey (Instant Coffey, 1974), Wah Wah Watson (Elementary, 1976), Rhythm Heritage (1976), Al Wilson (1977),[10] Dennis Wilson (Pacific Ocean Blue, 1977), Eloise Laws (1977), Smokey Robinson (1978), Ben E. King (1978),[24] Hubert Laws (1979), Tavares (1980), Joe Sample/David T. Walker (Swing Street Cafe, 1981), and Bloodstone (1982).[18][25] However, as other musicians went on to use high-tech amps, round-wound strings, and simpler, more repetitive bass lines incorporating new techniques like slapping, Jamerson's style fell out of favor with local producers as he was reluctant to try new things. By the 1980s he was unable to get any serious gigs working as a session musician.[9](pp70–73)

Personal life and death

Jamerson married Annie Wells shortly before graduating from high school.[26] They had four children. His son, James Jamerson, Jr. (1958–2016), was a professional session bassist and a member of the disco band Chanson.[27] He had two other sons, Joey and Derek, and a daughter Dorene (Penny).[9](p49)

Long troubled by alcoholism, Jamerson died of complications from cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure and pneumonia on August 2, 1983, in Los Angeles.[28] He is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery.[29]


Jamerson (as is the case with the other Funk Brothers) received little formal recognition for his lifetime contributions. The first time he was credited on a major Motown release was in 1971 for his performance on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. He was noted as "the incomparable James Jamerson" on the record's sleeve.[7][19]

Jamerson was the subject of a 1989 book by Allan Slutsky (aka "Dr. Licks") titled Standing in the Shadows of Motown. The book includes a biography of Jamerson, transcriptions of his bass lines, two CDs in which 26 bassists such as Pino Palladino, John Entwistle, Will Lee, Chuck Rainey, and Geddy Lee speak about Jamerson and play the transcriptions.[20][16](p244) Jamerson's story was also featured in the subsequent 2002 documentary film of the same title.

In 1999, Jamerson was awarded a bust at the Hollywood Guitar Center's Rock Walk.[30]

In 2000, Jamerson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, part of the first-ever group of "sidemen" to be so honored.[3]

In 2003, a two-day tribute to Jamerson, titled "Return to the Source", was hosted by the Charleston Jazz Initiative and Avery Research Center of the College of Charleston.[31]

In 2004, the Funk Brothers were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[32]

In 2007, Jamerson along with the other Funk Brothers was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.[33]

In 2008, Jamerson was awarded the Gullah/GeeChee Anointed Spirit Award.[34]

In 2009, Jamerson was inducted into the Fender Hall of Fame. Among the speakers was fellow Motown session bassist and friend, Bob Babbitt.[35][36]

In 2009, Jamerson received a Resolution from the South Carolina House of Representatives.[32]

In 2011, Jamerson received the Bass Player magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award.[37]

In 2012, Jamerson received the Samson, Hartke and Zoom International Bassist Award.[38]

In 2013, the Funk Brothers received their Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[39]

In 2014, Jamerson received a Resolution from the South Carolina Senate.[32]

In 2015, Brian Wilson, in a question and answer session on Twitter, named Jamerson as his favourite bass player.[40]

In 2016, Jamerson received the Independent Tone Award for his lifetime achievement.[41]

In 2017, he received a Resolution from the town of Edisto Island, South Carolina.[42]

In 2018, he was awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Dream Keeper Award in Charleston, South Carolina.[32]

In 2018, he was inducted into the Lowcountry Music Hall of Fame in Charleston, South Carolina.[32]

In 2018, he was inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.[43]

Jamerson's equipment

Jamerson started on a school owned upright bass. After graduating from high school, he bought a German upright acoustic bass which he later used on such Motown hits as "My Guy" by Mary Wells and "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas.[19][9](pp5–9)

In 1960 to 1961 he transitioned to electric bass. Jamerson played mainly the Fender Precision Bass, but is known to have briefly used a Fender Bass V and a Hagström eight-string later in his career.[9](pp84–86)[19]

His first electric bass was a 1957 Precision Bass,[9](p84) refinished in black, with a gold-anodized pickguard and maple fretboard, nicknamed "Black Beauty". The bass was previously owned by his fellow bass player Horace "Chili" Ruth. But the guitar was soon stolen.[9](p84)

After his 1957 Precision Bass was stolen, he briefly replaced it with an early sixties sunburst Precision which was also stolen. He then acquired a stock 1962 Fender Precision Bass which was dubbed "The Funk Machine". It had a three-tone sunburst finish, a tortoiseshell pickguard, rosewood fretboard and chrome pickup and bridge covers (the latter containing a piece of foam used to dampen sustain and some overtones). On the heel of the instrument he carved the word "FUNK" in blue ink. He typically set its volume and tone knobs on full. This instrument was also stolen, just days before Jamerson's death in 1983. It has not been found.[9](pp84–86)[44] Reportedly Jamerson had given one of his instruments, a 1961 Fender Precision, to bassist Billy Hayes in 1968; the instrument was auctioned in 2017.[45][46]

Jamerson used La Bella heavy-gauge (.052–.110) flatwound strings which were never replaced, unless a string broke. He did not particularly take care of the instrument, as he stated: "The dirt keeps the funk". The neck may have eventually warped, as many claimed it was impossible to play. While this made it more difficult to fret, Jamerson believed it improved the quality of the tone.[9](p85)[13] In mid-1970s, a producer attempted to modernize Jamerson's sound by asking the bassist to switch to brighter-sounding roundwound bass strings, but Jamerson politely declined.[9](p71)

One aspect of Jamerson's upright playing that carried over to the electric bass guitar, was the fact that he generally used only his right index finger to pluck the strings while resting his third and fourth fingers on the chrome pickup cover. Jamerson's index finger even earned its own nickname: "The Hook". Another aspect of Jamerson's upright playing which carried over was his use of open strings, a technique long used by jazz bass players, to pivot around the fretboard which served to give his lines a fluid feeling.[13]

Jamerson's amplifier of choice at club performances was an Ampeg B-15; in larger venues, he used a blue Kustom with twin 15" speakers.[19][47] On both, the bass was typically turned up full and the treble turned halfway up.[22][19] On most of his studio recordings, his bass was plugged directly into the custom-made mixing console together with the guitars from Eddie Willis, Robert White and Joe Messina. He adjusted the console so that his sound was slightly overdriven and had a mild tube compression.[13]


  1. ^ a b Jayson Kerr Dobney; Craig J. Inciardi (2019). Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 83. ISBN 9781588396662. Retrieved April 17, 2019. Note image caption on page 83: "James Jamerson and drummer Uriel Jones playing with the Earl Van Dyke Band at Blues Unlimited, Detroit, 1964."
  2. ^ Page 83 of J.K. Dobney et al. shows a similar photo with caption. Notice the tambourine placed on top of the hi-hat, the curtains, and Jamerson's attire, all indicating this photo was captured around the same time in 1964 at the Blues Unlimited club in Detroit.
  3. ^ a b c d "James Jamerson – 2000". rockhall.com. 2000. Archived from the original on July 29, 2018. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Through most of his life, his birth year was mistakenly believed to be 1938. Jamerson found his birth certificate late in life, and it showed 1936 to be the birth year. (Source: A. Slutsky, 1989) This explains discrepancies in some sources relating his age, school grades, graduation year and such.
  5. ^ "The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time". bassplayer.com. February 24, 2017. Archived from the original on March 27, 2019. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  6. ^ John Barrett (October 12, 2011). "The 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists". Pastemagazine.com. Archived from the original on November 19, 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Stephanie Barna (September 20, 2017). "One man's battle to get Motown great James Jamerson into the S.C. Hall of Fame". Charleston City Paper. Archived from the original on January 27, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  8. ^ W. Kim Heron (August 4, 1983). "Bassist and Motown Pioneer". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on April 20, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Allan Slutsky (aka Dr. Licks) (1989). Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780881888829. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e Ed Hogan. "Allmusic: James Jamerson - biography". Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on July 19, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  11. ^ Beverley Turner. "James Jamerson – unofficial discography". philbrodieband.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  12. ^ Geoffrey Himes (October 18, 2002). "The Funk Brothers and Motown Jazz". jazztimes.com. Archived from the original on September 16, 2017. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Chris Jisi. "Inside the James Jamerson Style". Backstage-lounge.com. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Sean O'Hagan (July 19, 2003). "We sold our soul.. for 10 dollars". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  15. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  16. ^ a b c Adrian Ashton (2006). The Bass Handbook. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780879308728. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  17. ^ (various authors). Bob Lee (ed.). "James Jamerson's Greatest Hits – unofficial discography". Bassland.net. Archived from the original on July 18, 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  18. ^ a b c "Rick Suchow - NYC Bassist / Writer - Bass". Ricksuchow.com. December 2008. Archived from the original on July 10, 2018. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
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  20. ^ a b Geoff Gehman (August 13, 1989). "Pioneer Bassist's Work Emerging from Motown Shadow". The Morning Call. Archived from the original on April 20, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  21. ^ a b Brian McCollum (February 27, 2000). "Enigmatic bassist James Jamerson, anchor of the Motown sound". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 3, 2001. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "How to play bass like James Jamerson". musicradar.com, Total Guitar magazine. August 22, 2017. Archived from the original on February 9, 2018. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  23. ^ Influence: Prestia, Jackson, Palladino, McCartney, Babbitt, Watts, Will Lee, Geddy Lee, Rainey, Miller, Mills, Chen, Entwistle, League, Watt, Sting, Jones, Odum, DeLeo, Wooten, Hughes, Shannon, Quatro, Asheton, Sales, Cetera, Bell, Collins, Flea, Gorrie, Jemmott, Fraser, Noveskey, Wilson
  24. ^ "Ben E. King ‎– Let Me Live In Your Life". discogs.com. Archived from the original on April 20, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  25. ^ "Bloodstone ‎– We Go A Long Way Back". discogs.com. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  26. ^ Graham Betts (2014). Motown Encyclopedia. AC Publishing. pp. 291–293. ISBN 9781311441546. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  27. ^ "James Jamerson, Jr. Passes". vintageguitar.com. 2016. Archived from the original on March 30, 2016. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  28. ^ "James Jamerson Dies at 45; Bassist Backed Detroit Stars". The New York Times. August 6, 1983. Archived from the original on March 13, 2014. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  29. ^ Tom Perkins (March 9, 2016). "From prewar grandeur to postindustrial grit, Detroit has plenty to look at". Detroit Metro Times. Archived from the original on November 14, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  30. ^ "Hollywood's RockWalk – James Jamerson". rockwalk.com. January 27, 1999. Archived from the original on May 16, 2004. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  31. ^ "Return to the Source: Remembering Legendary Bassist, James Lee Jamerson". charlestonjazz.net. September 18–19, 2003. Archived from the original on February 9, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  32. ^ a b c d e David Travis Bland (October 27, 2018). "SC Motown musician to be honored. You've heard his grooves, do you know who he is?". thestate.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  33. ^ Calvin Gilbert (November 27, 2017). "Unsung Heroes Honored at Musicians Hall of Fame Induction". cmt.com. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  34. ^ "Gullah/Geechee Nation's Black Music Month on Historic St. Helena Islan". gullahgeecheenation.com. May 25, 2017. Archived from the original on October 18, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  35. ^ Evan Kepner (July 11, 2009). "James Jamerson to be inducted in Fender Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on March 11, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  36. ^ "Bob Babbitt inducts James Jamerson into Fender Hall of Fame". youtube.com. September 29, 2012. Archived from the original on June 12, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  37. ^ Chris Jisi (July 26, 2011). "James Jamerson to Receive Posthumous Bass Player Lifetime Achievement Award". bassplayer.com. Archived from the original on April 22, 2019.
  38. ^ "Samson and Hartke Honor James Jamerson". samsontech.com. January 20, 2012. Archived from the original on June 28, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  39. ^ "Hollywood Walk of Fame – The Funk Brothers". walkoffame.com. March 21, 2013. Archived from the original on February 23, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  40. ^ "Twitter: Brian Wilson - 30 March 2015". twitter.com. March 30, 2015. Archived from the original on April 21, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  41. ^ "Independent Tone Awards Final Newsbreak 2016". youtube.com. November 9, 2016. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2019. ITA will honor the lifetime achievement of Motown legend James Jamerson
  42. ^ "The Edisto Beach Comber – Resolution No. 2017-R04" (PDF). townofedistobeach.com. March 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  43. ^ Barney Blakeney (November 21, 2018). "Despite World Renown, James Jamerson Still Isn't in the South Carolina Music Hall of Fame". charlestonchronicle.net. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  44. ^ Hilary Brown (January 29, 2018). "A Tribute to James Jamerson and His Lost Funk Machine". reverb.com. Archived from the original on April 13, 2019. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  45. ^ "James Jamerson Owned and Played 1961 Fender Bass Up for Auction". bassplayer.com. May 22, 2017. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  46. ^ "James Jamerson's legendary bass guitar tops Heritage memorabilia sale". justcollecting.com. June 19, 2017. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  47. ^ Eduardo Obregón Pagán. "Motown Amp". Investigations. Season 10. Episode 2. 15 minutes in. PBS. Retrieved April 11, 2019.

Further reading

External links

Allan Slutsky

Allan Slutsky, also known by his pen name, Dr. Licks, (born May 5, 1952 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a Grammy Award winning American arranger, guitarist, music producer, and historian.

Benny Benjamin

William "Benny" Benjamin (July 25, 1925 – April 20, 1969), nicknamed Papa Zita, was an American musician, most notable as the primary drummer for the Motown studio band known as The Funk Brothers. He was a native of Birmingham, Alabama.Benjamin originally learned to play drums in the style of the big band jazz groups. In 1958, Benjamin was Motown's first studio drummer, where he was noted for his dynamic style. Several Motown record producers, including Berry Gordy, refused to work on any recording sessions unless Benjamin was the drummer and James Jamerson was the bassist. The Beatles singled out his drumming style upon meeting him in the UK. Among the Motown songs Benjamin performed the drum tracks for are early hits such as "Money (That's What I Want)" by Barrett Strong and "Do You Love Me" by The Contours; as well as later hits such as "Get Ready" and "My Girl" by The Temptations, "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" by Stevie Wonder, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Gladys Knight & the Pips and "Going to a Go-Go" by The Miracles.

Benjamin was influenced by the work of drummers Buddy Rich and Tito Puente. He recorded with a studio set composed of Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers and Gretsch components and probably Zildjian cymbals.

By the late 1960s, Benjamin struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and fellow Funk Brothers Uriel Jones and Richard "Pistol" Allen increasingly recorded more of the drum tracks for the studio's releases. Benjamin died on April 20, 1969 of a stroke at age 43, and was inducted into the "Sidemen" category of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Bob Babbitt

Bob Babbitt (born Robert Kreinar; November 26, 1937 – July 16, 2012) was a Hungarian-American bassist, most famous for his work as a member of Motown Records' studio band, the Funk Brothers, from 1966 to 1972, as well as his tenure as part of MFSB for Philadelphia International Records afterwards. Also in 1968, with Mike Campbell, Ray Monette and Andrew Smith he formed the band Scorpion, which lasted until 1970. He is ranked number 59 on Bass Player magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time".Babbitt traded off sessions with original Motown bassist James Jamerson. When Motown moved to Los Angeles, Babbit went in the opposite direction and ended up in New York; while making occasional trips to Philadelphia. In this new city he worked on recordings for Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, Gloria Gaynor, Robert Palmer, and Alice Cooper. During this time his most notable successes were "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips and "The Rubberband Man" by The Spinners.The Pittsburgh-born Babbitt's most notable bass performances include "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder, "War" by Edwin Starr, "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye, "Band Of Gold" by Freda Payne, "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)", and "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" by The Temptations. Also “Just don’t want to be lonely” by The Main Ingredient.

He participated in hundreds of other hits, including "Little Town Flirt" by Del Shannon, "I Got a Name" by Jim Croce, and "Scorpio" by Dennis Coffey & the Detroit Guitar Band. He played on the Jimi Hendrix album Crash Landing. He also played bass on Cindy Bullens' 1978 album, Desire Wire. He accepted an offer from Phil Collins to perform on his album of Motown and 1960s soul classics, Going Back, and also appeared in Collins' Going Back - Live At Roseland Ballroom, NYC concert DVD. He appeared on stage in an episode of American Idol, backing up Jacob Lusk's performance of "You're All I Need To Get By" for AI's Motown Week in March 2011.In 2003, Babbitt played on Marion James' album, Essence, on Soulfood Records, and amongst others playing on the record were Beegie Adair, Reese Wynans, Jack Pearson (The Allman Brothers), and drummer Chucki Burke.In 2008 Bob, along with Uriel Jones, Ray Monette, Dennis Coffey, and Robert Jones accompanied other notable Detroit session musicians, including Larry Fratangelo, Dennis Sheridan, Edward Gooch, John Trudell, saxophonist George Benson, Mark Burger, David Jennings, Spider Webb, George Katsakis, Gil Bridges and Rob Pipho, on the Carl Dixon Bandtraxs project, which featured a Dennis Coffey - Carl Dixon production of four new songs. Vocal performances by Spyder Turner, Cherokee Pree and Gayle Butts provided lead and backing for the session. The session was arranged by ex-Motown arranger David J. Van De Pitte. The session was also at Studio A, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, and was the dream of a 19-year-old Dixon, back in 1974, to pay homage to musicians, particularly The Funk Brothers, producers and those who influenced him with their music. It took Dixon almost 33 years to find the musicians and meet via the web site soulfuldetroit.com. It was via this web site that he and Dennis Coffey hooked up and then eventually collaborated to make the session work. On Dennis Coffey’s suggestion there were two drummers on this session, Uriel Jones and Spider Webb, who shared responsibility for the groove throughout the recordings, along with Bob’s pounding bass contributions. Robert Jones played on the studios’ over 100 year old Steinway grand piano. There is footage of Bob in the studio on this session via YouTube. Bob flew in from his home town to attend this session being a co member of soulfuldetroit.com along with Carl Dixon and Dennis Coffey.

Bob Babbitt died on July 16, 2012, aged 74, from brain cancer.

Chanson (band)

Chanson was an American studio-based disco group from the late 1970s, led by James Jamerson Jr. (son of legendary Motown sideman James Jamerson) and [David Williams (guitarist) They also Would Hired Session [Drummer] [Dwayne Tyree]. The group took their name from the French word for song. They were a one-hit wonder, reaching No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1979 with "Don't Hold Back", on the Ariola record label. The same track reached No. 33 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1979.

Dave Meros

Dave Meros (born 8 February 1956), is an American bass guitar player, best known as the bass player for progressive rock band Spock's Beard. Meros is also currently the bass player for Iron Butterfly and has also played or recorded with such artists as Gary Myrick, Bobby Kimball of Toto, Simon Phillips, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Glenn Hughes, Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders and Big Big Train, and played for Eric Burdon and The Animals for nearly 16 years. He was also tour manager for many of those years and has worked as a tour manager for further artists as well. As a bassist, Meros' musical influences are varied, including Paul McCartney, John Entwistle, Chris Squire, James Jamerson, Marcus Miller, Francis "Rocco" Prestia of Tower of Power, Chuck Rainey and David Hungate.

Down to Earth (Stevie Wonder album)

Down to Earth is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, released on November 16, 1966 on the Tamla (Motown) label. The album was a departure from Wonder's earlier, teen pop-driven albums, and, along with its predecessor, Up-Tight, it re-established the sixteen-year-old Wonder, whose voice had recently changed, as a Motown hitmaker.

The LP features the hit single "A Place in the Sun". Another single, "Hey Love", became a hit for Detroit soul singer Betty Lavette the following year.

Garry Tallent

Garry Wayne Tallent (born October 27, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan), sometimes billed as Garry W. Tallent, is an American musician and record producer, best known for being bass player and founding member of the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen's primary backing band since 1972. As of 2013, and not counting Springsteen himself, Tallent is the only original member of the E Street Band remaining in the band. Tallent was inducted as a member of the E Street Band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Growing up in Neptune City around the Jersey shore, Tallent took up first the tuba and then the bass. Tallent attended Neptune High School, together with future bandmate Vini Lopez.He was influenced by James Jamerson, Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Paul McCartney. He started playing with Springsteen in 1971 in two earlier bands and then was an original member of the E Street Band, who formed in 1972. Both visually and musically he stays in the background though his bass plays a key role in Springsteen's music; his most notable bass parts may be on the song "Fire" and the last verse of "Incident on 57th Street". During the E Street Band's early years, he occasionally played the tuba on some of Springsteen's quirkier early songs, both in concert and on record (most notably "Wild Billy's Circus Story").

In addition to his work with Springsteen, Tallent has recorded with numerous other artists. In 1987 Tallent produced the song "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" for Marshall Crenshaw on La Bamba soundtrack. During the long time the E Street Band was inactive in the 1990s, Tallent moved to Nashville, having an affinity for country and western and rockabilly music. (By this point, Tallent had already long been referred to by the nickname "The Tennessee Terror", a name given to him after once driving through Tennessee briefly on a roadtrip). There he opened the MoonDog recording studio and helped start the D'Ville Record Group label. Tallent has produced such artists as Jim Lauderdale, Kevin Gordon, and Steve Forbert.

Golden World Records

Golden World Records was a record label owned by Ed Wingate and Joanne Bratton (née Jackson, former wife of boxing champion Johnny Bratton). The recording studio was located in Detroit, Michigan, United States, first on 11801 12th Street (now known as Rosa Parks Boulevard), and then on 3246 West Davison, within the area of the present-day Davison Freeway. A business office on some of the labels reads 4039 Buena Vista, Joanne's home address.

Besides the following discography, the studio's national hits included "Oh How Happy" by Shades of Blue, from Livonia, Michigan, and "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet" by The Reflections. The early, pre-Motown songs by Edwin Starr ("War"), such as "Agent Double-O-Soul", were recorded in the Golden World studio.

Golden World operated from 1962 to 1968.

The label and its subsidiaries were purchased by Berry Gordy in 1966, and folded into Gordy's Motown Record Corporation. The Golden World studio became Motown's "Studio B", working in support of the original Motown recording studio (Studio A) at Hitsville USA. Before its purchase by Gordy, the studio's recordings often included moonlighting Motown back-up musicians, including James Jamerson on bass and George McGregor, who was the studio percussionist.

The famous clock that hung in Golden World Records is currently owned by Melodies and Memories in Eastpointe, Michigan, and is on display there. A restored old Steinway piano that Motown inherited from Golden World is now on display at the Motown Museum.

I Was Made to Love Her (album)

I Was Made to Love Her is the seventh studio album by Stevie Wonder, released on August 28, 1967 under Tamla Records, a Motown subsidiary.

James Jamerson (disambiguation)

James Jamerson (1936–1983) was an American bass player. James Jamerson may also refer to:

James L. Jamerson (born 1941), United States Air Force General

James Jamerson, Jr. (1958–2016), member of the band Chanson

Lamar Williams

Lamar Williams (January 14, 1949 in Gulfport, Mississippi – January 21, 1983) was an American musician best known for serving as the bassist of The Allman Brothers Band (1972-1976) and Sea Level (1976-1980).

Influenced by players from James Jamerson to Stanley Clarke, by the 1960s Williams was playing bass in a soul music band known as Sounds of Soul with future Allman Brothers drummer Jai Johanny Johanson.

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" was the second single from Marvin Gaye's 1971 album, What's Going On. Following the breakthrough of the title track's success, the song, written solely by Gaye, became regarded as one of popular music's most poignant anthems of sorrow regarding the environment. Led by Gaye playing piano, strings conducted by Paul Riser and David Van De Pitte, multi-tracking vocals from Gaye and The Andantes, multiple background instruments provided by The Funk Brothers and a leading sax solo by Wild Bill Moore, the song rose to number 4 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart and number one for two weeks on the R&B Singles charts on August 14 through to August 27, 1971. The distinctive percussive sound heard on the track was a wood block struck by a rubber mallet, drenched in studio reverb. The song also brought Gaye one of his rare appearances on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at number 34. In Canada, "Mercy Mercy Me" spent two weeks at number 9.In 1991, a music video of the song was released by Motown Records, featuring appearances by celebrities such as Smokey Robinson, Johnny Gill, Big Daddy Kane, Holly Robinson Peete, Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Rosie Perez, Bell Biv Devoe, Wesley Snipes, Tyler Collins (singer), Malcolm Jamal Warner, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Stephanie Mills, Debbie Harry and Vanessa L. Williams.

As the single became his second million-seller from What's Going On, the album started on the soul album charts in the top five and began charging up the pop rankings. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" soon became one of Gaye's most famous songs in his extensive catalogue. In 2002 it was his third single recording to win a "Grammy Hall of Fame" Award. As on "Inner City Blues", Bob Babbitt, not James Jamerson, plays the bass line.

Moving Along

Moving Along (self-titled in the US) is the fourth studio album by Australian soul/R&B singer Renée Geyer, and her first to be recorded in the US and released internationally. It was produced by famed Motown musician Frank Wilson who assembled the cream of US session players to back Geyer. Some notables were members of Stevie Wonder's band including Nathan Watts, Ray Parker Jr., Motown's most famous bass guitarist and Funk Brother James Jamerson, on backing vocals, Venetta Fields, and Mal and Barry from The Renée Geyer Band at Geyer's insistence. For this album, she re-recorded her Australian hit "Heading in the Right Direction" for the US market.

Paul Riser

Paul Riser (born September 11, 1943) is an American trombonist and Motown musical arranger who was responsible for co-writing and arranging dozens of top ten hit records. His legacy as one of the "Funk Brothers" is similar to that of most of the other "Brothers", as his career has been overlooked and overshadowed by the stars of Motown that became household names. Some of the Funk Brothers he worked with include: Earl Van Dyke, Johnny Griffith, Robert White, Eddie Willis, Joe Messina, Dennis Coffey, Wah Wah Watson, James Jamerson, Bob Babbitt, Eddie Watkins, Richard "Pistol" Allen, Uriel Jones, Andrew Smith, Jack Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Eddie "Bongo" Brown, Benny Benjamin, Cornelius Grant, Joe Hunter, Richard "Popcorn" Wylie, Marcus Belgrave, Teddy Buckner and Stevie Wonder.

Rhythm Heritage

Rhythm Heritage was a 1970s American disco-funk band, best known for their 1976 US #1 single "Theme from S.W.A.T.". It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in February 1976. They also recorded theme music for several other ABC television shows, including "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow," also from 1976, from Baretta (sung by Sammy Davis Jr.).

Rhythm Heritage was formed in 1975 by producer Steve Barri and session keyboardist Michael Omartian, and included bassist Scott Edwards and drummer Ed Greene. Other musicians who played on some of their recordings included Ben Benay, Victor Feldman, Jay Graydon, James Jamerson, Ray Parker Jr., Dean Parks, and Bob Walden.

Rocco Prestia

Francis Rocco Prestia (born March 7, 1951) is an American bassist, best known for his work with the funk band Tower of Power.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a 2002 documentary film directed by Paul Justman that recounts the story of The Funk Brothers, the uncredited and largely unheralded studio musicians who were the house band that Berry Gordy hand-picked in 1959.

The Funk Brothers

The Funk Brothers were a group of Detroit-based session musicians who performed the backing to most Motown recordings from 1959 until the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972.

They are considered one of the most successful groups of studio musicians in music history. The Funk Brothers played on Motown hits such as "My Girl", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", "Baby Love", "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours", "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", "The Tears of a Clown", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", and "Heat Wave".

There have been many articles written that identify members of the Funk Brothers, some of which claim that virtually every musician who ever played on a Motown track was a "Funk Brother". There are 13 Funk Brothers identified in the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown. The same 13 members were identified by both NARAS for the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and were recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The role of the Funk Brothers is described in Paul Justman's 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, based on Allan Slutsky's book of the same name. The opening titles claim that the Funk Brothers have "played on more number-one hits than the Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys combined."


The Wolfbox is the name for the original passive DI unit, direct box, or DI as invented in the late 1950s by Dr. Edward Wolfrum, PhD, alumnus engineer of Motown, Golden World Records, Terra-Shirma Studios, Metro-Audio Capstan Roller Remote recording, and United Sound Systems in Detroit, Michigan. Used by James Jamerson, Dennis Coffey, Bob Babbit and other The Funk Brothers, the Wolfbox was a key component in the 1960s and 1970s sound of recorded music in the Motown/Detroit scene.

#1 hit singles
Early influences
(Ahmet Ertegun Award)
Notable figures

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