This Picture of James Jamerson is courtesy of Phil Chen, former bassist with Rod Stewart and a dedicated Jamerson fan. I was at a private party in L.A. for the debut of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" ( ISBN#: 0-88188-882-6 ) and a lot of Motown people and quite a few of the Bass players that took part in the project were there (it took place at Ray Parker Jr.'s Studio in the San Fernando Valley). Phil pulled me to the side and presented me with this photo. Most of the published copies of this photo are in B&W or an artist's rendering (the Cover of Standing in the Shadows of Motown).
The next week there was a public book party at the Bass Center in L.A. I got to play Jamerson's part on What s Going On in the presence of Mrs. Annie Jamerson, James Jr. and The rest of the Family. Afterwards I had a really nice conversation with James' daughter Penny. I also got to play Jamerson's upright which James Jr brought to the affair. It was shortly after that, I traded my four string electric bass for an upright bass.
Below is the program from the Memorial service at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church following Jamerson's death in 1983. Several years ago I was contacted by Robert Russell, (a member of Mt. Zion) who e-mailed me stating that the Minister that presided over the service was Rev. Edward V. Hill not Rev. Edward B. Bass as it states in the program. I spoke to Mrs. Annie Jamerson on 4/16/2001 and in fact Rev. Edward B. Bass had officiated Jamerson's funeral (Rev. Hill was on vacation when Jamerson passed). I always thought it quite fitting that a minister named Bass (although actually pronounced like the ale) presided over James' going home.
Some Jamerson Stories
I was in the Musicians union in L.A. while Jamerson was still active around town (1980), "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" tells us he had trouble getting the work he deserved mainly because of the drinking but also because he really wanted to hold on to the past (doing things the way they were done in Detroit, keeping his old flatwound strings etc.).
He apparently had his daughter Penny (I presume because of the handwriting) make a work for hire notice to go into the union book of musicians available. It outlined his work history. He said he had done and I quote "all the Motown Shit" which I believe was his way of dealing with the fact that he was not on top anymore and had to seek work rather that it seeking him out. I took the address and phone number and contemplated calling him just to make the connection. It was rumored around BIT that they had Jamerson come over for some teaching and early (bit history) master classes. It was said that he did not do to well at dealing with the students (rough guy from the streets of Detroit vs some green kid asking him dumb questions) and he went away soon after. I was at BIT in 1980 so it could have been a reasonably fresh story. In any event, I had tried to meet Ron Carter in N.Y. and found him to be cold and unsharing ("when are you going to play the REAL Bass"). I did not want to have Jamerson turn out to be that way so, I procrastinated getting in touch with him. Subsequently I never did, Much to my regret now, as he died within 2 years of that time. I was back east at my brother's wedding when Jamerson died. I did not even know he was sick!! Upon my return to L.A. I searched down a copy of the program from the funeral (it appears above) and kept it. It was kind of strange to find out his middle name was Lee and he was born where my mother comes from in South Carolina. Though we are not related, I had the feeling that it was like a part of my family who had departed and the only thing we really had in common was a love for the Bass and the Music. Whenever I think of it I really wish I had taken the plunge and tried to meet him.
Another story related to Jamerson is when I got to L.A. in 1980 I headed straight for Motown offices on Sunset Blvd and made an application for employment there as a Musician. I can remember the receptionist telling me that this was not the way they hired musicians. I told her to trash my application and forget it and left partially in disgust. Soon after that I took up with this guy at the musicians union named Henry Grant. He had owned a music store/school in L.A. He fronted this big band and I was hot to try out my reading skills (which admittedly were not that good at the time).
After hanging around their rehearsals for a while Mr. Grant asked me if I could make this particular rehearsal (as the Bassist) for an upcoming gig that they had. I made the rehearsal and was told that the gig was at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I had been in town less than a year and had no idea where or what the venue was. I showed up to the Pavilion and was quite surprised to find that it was this ritzy place in Downtown L.A. The affair was a birthday party for the Honorable Ronald Dullums. I loaded up my equipment to the stage, set up and it was time to hit. The announcer said over the P.A. "And now Gil Askey and the Motown Orchestra" It was at that moment that I realized whom I was playing with (all along I thought it was Henry Grant's band. Gil was on tour with the Temptations at the time). Needless to say, I was in shock. There were a lot of the horn players in that band that did most of the L.A. sessions for Motown and/or traveled with the L.A. based Motown acts and I was in Heaven! I was holding down Jamerson's chair!!!
I also got to play with James Gadson in L.A. and was real honored that he liked my playing. Here was another musician that had played with the man.
In about 1986 or so, I got a call to do this play (For Heaven Sakes) and the principal writer was Mickey Stevenson who was A&R at Motown during the golden age. I remember taking a picture of Jamerson that appeared in Guitar World Magazine to show him at a rehearsal. He seemed pleased that Jamerson was at that point getting some recognition. The music for that play was pure Motown. I can remember the rehearsals seemed like what "Standing in the shadows of Motown" describes as a recording session at Motown in the early days. The musicians were set up looking at the same chord/Melody sheet and we started to play. If there was something specific that Mickey wanted to hear, he would come over to that musician and hum or sing a part or a line. I did 2 plays in all with Mickey Stevenson but I was unable to do a road show because of prior commitments.
Who Played Bass on Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made To Love Her"?
Who played bass on this record I grew up with? That almost sounds silly to ask. We've grown up knowing that James Jamerson played on that record. Even before we knew his name. When I say we, I mean a whole generation of musicians that were so moved by that sound, we decided that the bass was the instrument we would devote our lives too. I knew of Jamerson by name before many did. There was a guy from my hometown named William Bongiovani who worked for Motown as did Eddie Singletary (Singleton). Though I did not know them personally, Things that they said about Motown and the fact that I was a young bassist who idolized this Motown bass player made the stories that were to become legends exposed to me early on.
There has been a controversy over the musical legacy that James Jamerson leaves behind and I am proud to present, with his permission, the thoughts and research into this matter by none other than the author of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", Allan "Dr. Licks" Slutsky. I have added some Links.
In light of half-a-dozen magazine articles by Carol Kaye in the last few years and the distress they caused the Jamerson family, I find it necessary to state the following information about the ongoing debate. I've remained silent for the last five years but I think it's time to step forward with some hard facts. I hope it helps to clear up the issue.
Allan (Dr. Licks) Slutsky
"Who Played "I Was Made to Love" Her?
The Carol Kaye-James Jamerson Enigma"
He was dead, buried, and forgotten. Even 99% of the bass players in the world had no idea who he was. But in the last seven years, his life and music have been center stage amidst an explosion of newspaper and magazine articles (more than 350 worldwide), a long overdue biography, and an upcoming film documentary. The Fender custom shop has made a signature bass in his name, flatwound strings have begun selling again, and in the last two years, the recording company that had employed him for a decade and a half finally gave him official recognition in the liner notes of 3 recent historical CD box sets.
After three decades of obscurity, musicians and music lovers throughout the world were discovering the holy grail of the bass world-James Jamerson, the tormented genius whose earthquake-heavy bass lines fueled the Motown hit machine through the '60s and early '70s. Even though it was posthumous, he was finally getting his long overdue recognition.
And everyone lived happily ever after, right? Not exactly. As Jamerson rose in prominence, his reputation was given a serious challenge through the media by another icon of the bass, Carol Kaye. Well aware of her claims through the years about her recording sessions with the Supremes, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and other stars in Berry Gordy's stable, I contacted her in 1987 when I first began my research for STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson. This was done out of the highest regard for Carol's monumental achievements and contributions to the bass, and popular music in general. My intention was to find out first-hand what she had played on so I could avoid stepping on her toes.
I had expected her to name a few significant hits but was floored when she laid claim to "Bernadette", "Reach Out", "Baby Love", "I Was Made to Love Her", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Dancing In the Streets", "Can't Help Myself", and dozens of others Motown classics-in short, the majority of James Jamerson's signature performances.
At that point I decided to rethink the entire project. If I could substantiate Carol's allegations, I would write the book about her instead of Jamerson. I expected my research to turn up pros and cons for each player's position, along with the usual grey areas you can expect when researching multiple claims to the same material. Instead, what I found was overwhelmingly conclusive evidence that James Jamerson played the tunes in question. Here are the facts that my research turned up:
1) The songwriting-production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland attested to the fact that James Jamerson played on almost every one of their productions, and they never allowed others to produce songs that they had written. Brian Holland signed a notarized affidavit categorically stating that "Bernadette", "Reach Out", "Can't Help Myself", "Keep Me Hanging On", "Standing in the Shadows of Love", "Reflections", "Baby Love", "Back In My Arms Again", "Come See About Me", and "Can't Hurry Love", (all tunes claimed by Carol) were in fact, played by James Jamerson. Most damning was his statement that he had never even heard of Carol Kaye.
2) Smokey Robinson who wrote or produced probably 30-40 percent of Motown's biggest hits also denied that she had any major role in the Motown story, and had no part at all on the songs in question.
3) The performance credit that Carol has pursued with the greatest tenacity over the years is the bass part on Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her". Hank Cosby who co-wrote, produced it, and who, in his own words, "was there every step of the way from the writing of the song to the day the 45's were shipped", vehemently denied any participation by Carol Kaye on this recording. Cosby added, "Fifty percent of the song was James Jamerson's bass line. No one played like that but Jamerson." Cosby also signed an affidavit similar to Brian Holland's attesting to Jamerson's performance.
*********Point-Counterpoint: Carol's Side of the Story**********
1) The Politics of Race and Gender-Carol contends that Motown was afraid to admit that a white female bassist was the driving force behind some of their biggest hits. They wanted to push a black male agenda.
There are two faults with this argument. First of all, when it came to musicians, Motown had no racial or gender bias. They were all faceless cogs to them. Regardless of whether they were black, white, female, male, or Martian, they weren't going to get any recognition-period! It was a star driven phenomena and the company never gave the slightest thought to publicizing background figures. In addition, the Motown studio band (which was called the Funk Brothers) was not exclusively black. Guitarists Joe Messina and Dennis Coffey, percussionist Jack Brokensha, arranger Dave Van dePitte, and bassist Bob Babbit, who also played quite a few important
Motown dates, were all white.
2) Improvised vs. Written Parts - Her claim to "Reach Out" is based upon her contention that "discerning musicians can hear that the parts weren't improvised. It was a written part".
James Jamerson regularly improvised and sight read parts of that complexity. Part of his genius was that he could take a written part and make it sound as if it was his. Regardless of this argument, I have a photocopy of the original Union contract from the "Reach Out" session. It's dated July 6, 1966 (the year of the tune's release), it lists James Jamerson as the bassist (for which he received the princely sum of $61.00), and Detroit's Hitsville studio is indicated as the place where it was recorded. Carol herself admits that she never recorded in Detroit.
3) The West Coast Connection-Carol maintains that a great deal of Motown's output was being cut on the West Coast in Los Angeles.
That is true, but don't forget that Motown also had acts like Tony Martin, James Darren, and Soupy Sales signed to their label. There were also various Broadway and Las Vegas style orchestrated albums produced like the the Temptations in a Mellow Mood and The Four Tops on Broadway, not to mention the constant demand for filler material on albums. There was plenty of work to go around and Detroit could not possibly handle all of it. Frank Wilson who produced hits for Motown in both Detroit and Los Angeles supports Carol's claim that she worked numerous sessions for the company. However, he qualifies it by stating, "They used her a lot but not on the hard core R&B stuff. That stuff came out of Detroit. They didn't like her sound for
R&B because she played with a pick. It didn't have that fat round sound that Jamerson got with his fingers."
4) "I Was Made to Love Her"-According to Carol, this tune was recorded at Armin Steiner's studio and she recalls "I didn't like the final written riff that I played high up in unison with the horns. You can also hear where I was scuffling a bit with open strings a couple of times".
Now it starts to get complicated. First of all, the detailed studio log that Carol kept does not support her position. The log lists every date she played from 1963-1971. She painstakingly listed artists, studios, record labels, contractors and arrangers on each date. "I Was Made to Love Her" was released in 1967 which means it was cut in '66 or '67. There are no listings for a session at Steiner's or a Stevie Wonder date during that time span.
As far as "scuffling" around, the performance is perfect. Don't trust my ears. Trust the auditory ability of one of the world's most highly regarded bassists-lifelong Jamerson devotee, Anthony Jackson. He couldn't hear what she was talking about either. The "final written riff played in unison with the horns" argument also is problematic. "I Was Made To Love Her" is rhythm section and strings. There are no horns on that record.
5) Ask My Friends-Carol asked me to talk to Gene Page, Jerry Steinholtz, Earl Palmer, and some of the other studio musicians who played the West Coast Motown sessions with her. She felt they would back up her story.
I didn't just call a few of them. I talked to every one she recommended, naming the songs in question and telling them about Carol's claims. Arranger Gene Page immediately burst out laughing and said, "She said that? No way . . . never. That stuff was all Jamerson". Percussionist Steinholtz remembered playing Motown sessions with Carol but that was as much as he could remember. The closest I got to her viewpoint was with veteran R&B session drummer Earl Palmer who bristled at my suggestion that perhaps they played the demo versions of the songs in question. "Hell no!", he countered. "We weren't playing demos. We were playing hits". The only problem was that he also couldn't remember any song titles.
Now we all know that studio musicians live by their reputations, so remembering hits that they played on is of paramount importance. If they had even remembered one title-just one-I would have had something to pursue, but as it stood, they gave me no material at all to back up her story. Back in Detroit, In stark contrast to my California research, the Funk Brothers remembered everything- song titles, intricate details, times, dates, and fellow musicians on the session and it all revolved around James Jamerson.
6) The Great Cover-Up-Carol has accused many of Motown's producers of conducting illegal non-union, under scale sessions, and in efforts to cover their backs, they refuse to admit working with her.
First of all, if the sessions were illegal, why was a union musician like Carol playing them in direct violation of union rules? Secondly, the Motown story is full of lawsuits and union problems but that doesn't exactly strike fear in their hearts. It's just business as usual. James Jamerson certainly played under scale Motown sessions at different times. Why do these same producers admit working with him?
7) Demos That Became Hits-Amidst the thousand of studio dates in Carol's logs, quite a few are marked as demos and many of those were with Motown. According to her, the company misled the musicians because many of these sessions became the actual records.
Carol may have a legitimate grievance in this instance but not in regard to the songs in question. When the recent Platinum CD Box set The Hitsville Singles Collection was produced two years ago, most of the songs in question were pulled from the vaults and re-mastered. Motown's filing system lists whether the songs were recorded in Detroit or Los Angeles (and in a few instances in New York) on each storage box. All the disputed songs were listed as being cut in Detroit.
During the sixties and seventies, Carol Kaye contributed more to popular music than most musicians, including myself, could hope to equal in several lifetimes. By all accounts of people who know her well, she is also a wonderful, warm, loving person. I have no desire in any way to hurt her or ruin her reputation, but as James Jamerson's biographer, I do have a responsibility to him. James died a brokenhearted alcoholic, tortured by the lack of recognition for his his part in the Motown story. It took the world thirty years to find out and appreciate exactly what he did and I intend to further that recognition to the best of my abilities. If that includes defending him in the face of unfounded attacks on his life's work, so be it.
I'm still open to any information which would change the story and support Carol Kaye's version but so far, I've yet to find a single shred of evidence. I'd even go as far as to say that I wouldn't doubt that somewhere out there, there is some evidence that would support her claims on a few disputed songs.
She has my humblest apologies for the few that I may have missed. But when you're talking about "Bernadette", "Reach Out", "Baby Love", "I Was Made to Love Her", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Dancing In the Streets", "Can't Help Myself", Standing In The Shadows of Love", "You Keep Me Hangin' On", and dozens of others . . . Sorry Carol. That magical legacy belongs to
Rasta Smurf - New Defender of De Funk! (and a nice guy too!) "Read your music history not what someone is trying to RE-write". "Everybody else can't be wrong"
Motown related sites supporting Jamerson & the Funk Brothers
September 8th 2009 A very good piece by Brian McCullum of the Detroit Free Press on Motown at 50
August 7th 2009 Tempe Arizona
(the inscription simply reads)
James Lee Jamerson (1936-1983) transformed the role of electric bass in popular music. He was the top bassist for Detroit's Motown Records from the late 1950's to the early 1970's, and his impeccable and infectious bass guitar work underpinned more hit records than that of prehaps any bassist in history.
Although in his lifetime he received little public recognition or credit for his towering contribution to music, the countless hits fueled by his propulsive and musically adventurous bass work remain beloved by millions worldwide as each generation discovers and rediscovers the magic of Motown's 1960s golden age.
His unerring musical instincts - brought to life on a 1962 Fender Precision Bass guitar - were called upon time and again for what would prove to be timelessly enduring classics by the Miracles, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, the Four Tops, the Supremes and many others. On every record featuring Jamerson, each bassline is a masterpiece of rhythm and melody; each is a joyfully irresistible musical force.
Jamerson's inescapable influence on bassists of all eras and styles is incalculable, and he is thus universally regarded as one of the finest artists to ever wield the instrument.
There is a new feature called "Birth Of The Bass". Here is the pilot...
3/24/2009 We lost another Funk Brother today. Mr. Uriel Jones passed away this afternoon in Detroit. He was 74 years old. My condolences to his wife June and his family. We only have 4 of the Funk Brothers still with us now.
James Jamerson South Carolina's Petition PLEASE SIGN!!!!
9/7/2007 - A BBC documentary interview with Holland Dozier Holland which IMO completely dispells claims by Carol Kaye to have recorded bass on many HDH original Motown recordings. A must listen for anyone confused regarding the claims made of Bernadette, I can't Help Myself, Standing In The Shadows of Love or Reach Out, I'll Be there by the For Tops Holland Dozier Holland BBC Interview. They talk about recording techniques and played soloed multitrack recordings. They speak of Jamerson and the Funk Brothers VERY GOOD
6-4-2006 Here is a video of Jamerson playing What's Going Om and What's Happeniong Brother YouTube.com thanks to Michael Eisenman. As of today there are over 15,000 views of this video.
Here's where you can find Basscast: here. If you listen to Basscast 25, at 1:25:55 into the interview with Joe Osborne, he has some comments on Carol Kaye's assertions that she played on the Motown sessions. It's his opinion, but there you go.
There have been instaces where my site has been highjacked. I suspect you will see this notice on the highjacked sites (an indication of how thurough the highjackers are). I will not point to those sites as I would much rather someone come here to see my site rather than going to some highjacked site.
I also want to take this time to thank the hundreds of bass/Motown related site that have links to this page legitimately.
New Jamerson Event in Planning Stages
Mar. 18th, 2006 - I have it on fairly good authority another Jamerson Tribute, a Bass Player get together is in the early planning stages in Charleston / Edisto Island, South Carolina. I don't know any of the particulars but you can rest assured they will be published here when they become available. I certainly look forward to attending. The affair will be part of the Charleston Jazz Initiative Headed by Dr Karen Chandler and Jack McCray. These are they same people who put on the 2003 event which I attended as their guest.
The Bassland Discussion Group has discontinued visitor posting due to (apparent) off shore attacks resulting in pornographic or spyware laden posts by one or more individuals. Please feel free to visit the forum in spite of this as I have taken down all objectionable or off topic content. I did however leave the identification of the perpetrators so as you view the list it will be very apparent which posts were not on topic. Take a Look Bassland Forum.
Jan 29th, 2006 - James Jamerson would have been 70 year old today. Happy Birthday James, You would be amaized at your effect on bass and by the fact that the music you made some 35-40 years ago is still quoted today!
12/30/2005 - Album credits (producers writers musicians etc) and reviews for I Was Made To Love Her by Stevie Wonder (1967)HERE. You won't find any surprises...
I'm sorry to inform you all that on Saturday morning November 12,2005 in the early morning; Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called home my Auntie and Jamerson's Mother Mrs.Katherine Bacon, (affectionately known to her family as Yi-Ya) She was sick for about a month. God bless her and the rest of her family. Rest-In-Peace Yi-Ya. You will be missed and Loved. Anthony(Ant)McKnight
Note: The picture I added was from the Jamerson Tribute in 2003 in Charleston, S.C. I had the pleasure to meet Mrs. Bacon on that occasion. (BL)
For those wondering what I sound like as a bassplayer, I have a sound page here. There are some acoustic and electric samples.
101 greatesat Rock Bassist here. (hint: Jamerson was originally #5 but has progressed to #1. The bassplayer that played the "other" Bernadette was #36)
11-28-2004 Some comments on who played what by Bob Babbitt from his forum, Here
Inquiring minds wanted to know. Here is an article that is from 12/20/2000 called Let the Funk Brothers roll by Wendy M. Grossman. It is an interesting article to say the least and gives an insite as to what others thought about this now silly controversy. The protagonist/antagonist (depending on your position) in this matter still makes the same claims to this day.
Here was my letter to the editor of L.A. Weekly regarding the article mentioned and linked below:
There are a series of stories in the current edition about Studio Musicians. One article "The Lady At The Bottom", written by Matthew Duerston in which the interviewer asked "...Why did you work for Motown..." Carol Kaye was being interviewed in this section in responding, the name of a tune was mentioned ("Bernadette" by the Four Tops) in which the bass part is actually performed by James Jamerson of the Funk Brothers. There is some discussion on the web about the ongoing claim that Carol Kaye makes regarding bass performances generally known to be Jamerson's playing. While they layman may not be aware of the subject it is quite active amongst musicians. The claims made (but not in your story) also include "I Was Made To Lover Her" by Stevie Wonder, and many more of Jamerson's signature recorded performances which were not mentioned in the LA Weekly story.
There is a website called Soulful Detroit http://Soulfuldetroit.com/forum/ where her claims have been refuted by people who worked for Motown records. My own website http://bassland.net/jamerson.html has a story about Jamerson and has the research into this matter by Allan Slutsky who wrote the book and the film about the Funk Brothers "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown". While I do applaud the L.A. Studio musicians getting their just dues just like the Funk Brothers, I do have a problem with claims to work generally know to have been done by others being printed as fact without the other side of this issue being represented. I would hope that the LA Weekly has some responsibility to research the matter more fully. As a bass player, I feel that assaulting the acheivements and the memory of Jamerson who is considered the Father of modern electric bass playing appauling to me personally. In the article the Motown question seemed to come out of nowhere so I suspect there was more discussion on this subject that was not printed in the story.
There is a Usenet newsgroup alt.guitar.bass where the LA Weekly story has been discussed that might bear some looking into also. Thank you in advance for looking at this matter.
april 8th 2004 - Well, this week here in L.A. the local rag has a story about L.A. Studio musicians and lo and behold one musicians (guess who?) made a reference about playing bass on Bernadette (saying that Earl Palmer said that it was "their tracks" which, I have never heard from (in print anyway) Earl other than this persons claim. His book seems to refute any claims. I am (as always) referring to the original released recordings. Any other recordings done by Motown or anyone else is another matter. Plas Johnson did mention working with Motown acts but no titles and no controversy...
Secondly one of the 4 or 5 seprate sections mentioned the Funk Brothers and the noteriety that they have enjoyed since SITSOM implying that the same thing should happen for the L.A. studio musicians. For the most part I agree but not to the extent that myth (Bernadette) should be mixed with fact. BTW, at least one name you rarely hear from the bassist featured in the article also appeared in the L.A. Studio story. Chuck Rainey for one is mentioned as are other bassists. The featured bassist (we all know who) was the only one talking about Motown in regards to records generally known to have been made in Detroit by the Funk Brothers (in this case Bernadette) ... That is not surprising but, they should realize that what they are talking about will probably keep them from getting other just credit that they may actually be due.
the sections are left margin just below the top of the page under features. I suggest reading the whole thing so you can get an idea (from what I read) of what other L.A. musicians are (not) saying about Motown during the 1960's. One does mentions a Marvin Gaye album made in L.A. in 1973 that featured Jamerson and Wilton Felder on Bass but, no "Bernadette" that I saw anyway... except, well, you get the picture...
Some thoughts Here regarding Jamerson/Kaye and Motown in books and magazines.
The Funk Brothers (with Gerald Lavert) will perform on the Tonight Show this coming Friday night, January 2.
This is a composite picture of James Jamerson and his 2nd son Joey. The Jamerson photo was from 1979 and Jamerson was 43 years old.
Joey is 43 now (this picture was taken after the Jamerson Tribute in Charleston September 18th an 19th, 2003). The picture was taken by Anthony McKnight when Joey Jamerson asked if he could pick Anthony's bass up. When Anthony looked at him with the bass he got his camera and took the picture. It was not posed to match the picture of James Jamerson.
Here is a story from the Charleston Post-Courier from Sunday Sept 21 after the event Here
College of Charleston Avery Research Center held the first of 2 events honoring Jamerson at the Avery Center last night and it was a great event. On hand was James' mother, his wife, daughter Penny and son Joey!
Also on hand were the McKnight Brothers (shown below at a rehearsal).
This occasion was also marked with sadness. One of the McKnight Brothers, Richard "Tiny" McKnight passed away just 1 day before this event. There was a moment of silence in his memory. I have more pictures and will put them up once I am back in California. Tonight is the bigger event at the Sotille Theatre in Charleston where The Black Velvets (featuring Anthony McKnight) will perform some of the hits that Jamerson played on (with me sitting in on bass, thanks to Tom Tom) and there will be a proclamation from the Mayor of Charleston followed by the Charleston premier of Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.
Here are some other pictures from the event
There is this activity that is real big on Pawley Island
called "porch Sitting" Anthony and I took full advantage of it!
(PLACE THE CURSOR ON A PICTURE FOR A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF THE PICTURE CONTENT)
The old axioms of "You can never go home again," and "A prophet can never be respected in his own home" have been proven wrong, been ripped up, and put to bed by this wonderful home town tribute to James Jamerson.
A half century ago, James left Charleston for Detroit as a scared young man, unsure of what lay in his future, with a speech impediment, bad feet and a limp. Now, Charleston is welcoming him back as a conquering hero. To refer to him as "A prophet" may seem a bit over the top or overly dramatic, but in the world of music, that's exactly what he was. His pulpit was a 1962 sunburst Fender Precision Bass and his sermons were endless streams of soulful improvisations that shook the world of music and changed the way people listened and played.
James was basically a humble and somewhat shy man. He would never have believed that someday, he'd be revered all over the world, he'd be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, and that he'd be the talk of the town in his birthplace. But at the same time, he needed this recognitiondesperately. And even though it comes posthumously, I have to believe he's in this room today with a huge grin and a fat stogie sticking out of his mouth and he's at peace and happy as could be. There's gonna be a serious jam session in heaven tonight!!!
Thanks to all of you for coming and honoring James Jamerson and thanks to the College of Charleston, Avery Research Center, Karen Chandler and Jack McCray of Charlestons Post and Courier for helping to put this together.
Allan Slutsky, Music Supervisor and Editor, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and author, Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist, James Jamerson
Friday, September 19, 2003
(Sept 3rd, 2003)
Here is the exciting news I mentioned in my last entry. First the announcement.
The Avery Research Center, Dr. Karen Chandler, and Jack McCray, Jazz Journalist with Charlestons Post and Courier and a principal of The Charleston Jazz Initiative (CJI) of Avery, we are honored and humbled to present two programs that will celebrate the music and career of James Jamerson. Entitled Return to the Source: Remembering Legendary Bassist, James Jamerson, this two-day event will document Jamersons career via his Edisto Island/Charleston roots. Though his career has been commemorated by those in the music industry and from fans around the world, there has been no observance of his extraordinary musical life in his native Charleston. That will change in September.
On Thursday, September 18 at 8:00 p.m. at Avery, we will present "Conversations in Jazz: James Jamerson." This free event will be moderated by Jack and will feature musician-historian, Bob Lee, and family members including Ann Jamerson; displays of Averys James Jamerson Collection; live music by the McKnight Brothers, and combined choirs of Jamersons home church, First Baptist Church of Edisto Island; and a book signing of "Standing In The Shadows of Motown: The Life And Music of Legendary Bassist, James Jamerson" by Allan Slutsky.
On Friday, September 19 from 6:00-9:30 p.m. (7:00 film screening) at the Sottile Theater at the College of Charleston, Avery and Artisan Entertainment will present the Charleston premiere of "Standing In The Shadows of Motown" with the exceptional music and careers of The Funk Brothers. The evening will feature a reception with heavy hors doeuvres; music by Anthony McKnight and The Black Velvets joined by The Heart and Soul Band of Charleston and bassist, Bob Lee; and special guest presentations.
8/20/2003 I have some exciting news for all Jamerson fans to announce soon so please check back in the next week or so
Another shot of Joe with Mr. George Bush
Funk Brother Joe Messina shows of those well deserved Grammys Congratulations Joe!
4-11-03 - A great story on The Funk Bothers in the Philadelphia Daily News by Jonathan Takiff here
Funk Brothers Finally hit the Road! Great story by Susan Whitall. The tour will include singers like Joan Osborn and Darlene Love (hmmm I would have thought Darlene would be performing with some other bassist who plays with a pick )....
Sunday Feb 23, 2003
The Funk Brothers' movie, Standing In The Shadows of Motown, wins 2 Grammy Awards Read All About It
11-10-2002 Johnny Griffith, keyboards with the Funk Brothers died of an apparent heart attack in Detroit hours before he was scheduled to play with the Funks for a performance supporting the Movie Standing In The Shadows of Motown.
---------------------- The Funk Brothers on KCRW FM ----------------------
On Monday, September 2, 2002, the Funk Brothers will appear on Chocolate
City with host Garth Trinidad, heard most weeknights, 10 to midnight, on
KCRW 89.9FM and around the world at http://www.kcrw.com
As part of Chocolate City's 3-hour Labor Day Special, Garth Trinidad
proudly welcomes the men behind virtually every Motown classic, Detroit's
own Funk Brothers. This unheralded group of musicians have played on more
number one hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the
Beatles combined. A new film documenting the extraordinary accomplishments
of the Funk Brothers is about to be released entitled "Standing in the
Shadows of Motown."
KCRW is based in Santa Monica, California, and serves much of Southern
California through a network of translators. KCRW also webcasts their
programming, so you can listen in from virtually anywhere. Visit their
website for details: http://www.kcrw.com , and http://www.kcrw.com/show/cc
for information on Chocolate City.
----------------------------Film Festivals -------------------------------
We are proud to announce that Standing in the Shadows of Motown has been
invited to screen at the 18th annual Boston Film Festival (Sept 6-15,
2002, the exact date is to be announced). Visit the Boston Film Festival
website for further information: http://www.bostonfilmfestival.org
Don't forget that we will be at the Toronto International Film Festival,
showing in the VISA Screening Room at the Elgin Theater on 7:00 PM,
September 11, 2002. Here is the festival website:
Of course, we are also pleased to be a part of the "Focus on Music"
program at the Woodstock Film Festival (Sept 18-22, we screen Sept 20 at
6:30 PM). The festival website is: http://www.woodstockfilmfestival.com/
Finally, we have been invited to participate in numerous other film
festivals, not only in North America, but world-wide as well. We will
make these announcements as soon as we are able.
----------------------- Theatrical Release Dates -------------------------
We remain on-track for the November 15, 2002 North American theatrical
release. We promise to announce the cities and theaters as soon as we
can, as well as any information about our international distribution, and
home video plans.
---------------------------The Soundtrack CD -----------------------------
The Standing in the Shadows of Motown soundtrack CD, distributed by Hip-O
/ Motown, is making good progress toward the September 24 release date.
Here is the Hip-O website: http://www.hip-o.com/shadows/
Also, Motown has set up a discussion board for the soundtrack:
http://boards.motown.com/summary.asp?forum=AMB%5FAP417246659 -- check it
Aug 23, 2002
NPR Radio has a great interview with Harry Weinger on Cellarful Of Motown. They speak very highly of the Funk Brothers as the common link to the music.
Aug 6th, 2002
A nice tribute to Jamerson on the Fender site HERE
Artisan pictures acquires North American distribution rights to feature film documentary Standing In The Shadows Of Motown
This is the same company that distributed the film Buena Vista Social Club. For the full press release and more info log onto Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.com.
Thanks to Rik at Chatbusters, a great English magazine dedicated to classic Motown, for his feature article on James Jamerson based on my site to honor Jamerson's bass playing achievements. Here is a link to the Chat Busters website.
I just found a site called SoulfulDetroit.com which has a forum that has topics about Motown in general and includes a section about Jamerson and some familiar issues.
I have read through some of the posts on the above site and left one of my own. Bob Babbitt was there so was Russ Tarrana (former Motwn Detroit engineer), Billy Wilson of MAA, and Bob Olhsson (another Motown engineer) among others... Very interesting reading.
Video trailer for the SITSOM film is now available at Elliott Scott Films.
Sound Trailer for the film Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, the movie about the Funk Brothers of Motown.
Here is the Program from the Library Of Congress Premier of SITSOM. Thanks to Jeff Whittemore.n
"STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN"
PREVIEWED AT LIBRARY OF CONGRESS DECEMBER 14
The Library of Congress in Washington, DC will present a preview showing of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" a new documentary film about the Motown studio band The Funk Brothers from the Rimshot LLC production company, with Executive Producers, Paul
Elliott and David Scott; and Producers Sandy Passman, Allan Slutsky, and Paul Justman.The film will be shown in Coolidge Auditorium located on the ground floor of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street SE at 7:00 p.m., on Friday evening, December
14, 2001. A question and answer session with Mr. Slutsky and the Funk Brothers will follow the film.
Tickets are required for this event and are available for a nominal charge of $2 per ticket, with additional charges for phone orders and handling, from TicketMaster by calling (301) 808-6900, (202) 432-SEAT or by visiting TicketMaster outlets.
10/18/01 - I attended an advanced screening to the new Funk Brothers movie "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown" and was quite an experience seeing the edited and finished film on the big screen with all the voice overs and needle drops at the DGA (Directors Guild of America) in Hollywood. The film has Motown music throughout Live and archive. The guest stars, Chaka Khan, Montell Jordan, Levert, Joan Osborn, Bootsy, Ben Harper, and Meshell Ndegeocello really performed very well (Chaka was at the screening), so did the Funk Brothers. They played the original arrangements with horns and strings recorded. There was interview footage of the Funk Brothers. It was great to hear Jamerson's unaccompanied bassline from Bernadette playing under part of the story. Dr. Licks says, "they took it right from the multi-track master".
It was particularly interesting to me as Motown was the music I first played when I started bass in 1963. I had to learn all those records from sound alone and to "see" the originators of this music playing it on stage (there were 12 full songs played by the original Funk Brothers with Bob Babbitt on bass in Jamerson's place) filling in the blanks after almost 40 years. Some of these guys are in their 70's now and it was great to see them get their due while they were still with us (besides Jamerson, Funk Brothers Benny Benjamin, drums, Robert White, guitar, Eddie "Bongo" Brown, and Earl Van Dyke, keyboards have since past away) There is however footage of all but Benny Benjamin and Eddie Brown in an interview setting.
With all the MTV generation of music today this movie may seem trite now but it was something I was lacking for all these years and I am elated to see those blanks being filled in.
Live performances include Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Shotgun, Do You Love Me, Reach Out, I'll Be There, Ain't To Proud To Beg, I heard It Through The Grapevine, You Really Got A Hold On Me, Whats Going On, What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted, Heat Wave, Cloud 9, and Cool Jerk.
Besides Chaka Khan, Doctor Licks, The Director and co-Producers Paul Justman and Sandy Passman, Executive producers David Scott and Paul Elliott, (Paul is also a bassist) were all there. Also in attendance was Bill Leigh, editor of Bass Player Magazine and Detroit native bassist Al McGrier, Motown Alumni Association was represented by Cornelius Grant and Ruth Robinson.
The release date is now set for January after the Sundance Film Festival
8/17/01 - Last night I attended a mixdown session for the Documentary on the Funk Brothers and saw quite a bit of the filmed material and I am stoked! I think music fans in general and Motown fans in particular have a real treat coming their way very soon!
Here is my transcription of Jamerson's bass playing on "What's Happening Brother" from the Marvin Gaye album "What's Going On"
(updated July 13th 2001)
I became aware of an artilce from May 2001 in Mix Magazine regarding Armin Steiner and his involvement with Motown in LA.
He mentions the names of musicians who did sessions he recorded for Motown. He also mentions many Motown artists. What he does NOT mention the names of any tunes from those Motown Records artists. Now from what I have heard, Mr Steiner did many session for Motown but what I read in his article did not support claims (that we all know about by now) with regrards to the bass parts on some Motown hit records from the 1960's (I Was Made To Love Her by Stevie Wonder & Bernadette by the 4 Tops among others comes to mind). In other words I think Jamerson's legacy has always remained intact.
I have yet to hear of anybody (other than one person claiming to play bass on those and other Detroit Motown records) say specifically that they recorded the original IWMTLH or Bernadette in anyplace other than Detroit.
In contrast to that, I spoke specifically with Henry Cosby (producer and co-writer of IWMTLH as listed on the record) regarding that song being recorded in Detroit with James Jamerson playing bass.
From Dr Licks:
MOTOWN'S WEST COAST RECORDING ACTIVITIES AND WHAT MOTOWN RECORDINGS CAROL DID PLAY ON
Motown opened an office in LA in the somewhere in the early to mid-sixties. There was a great deal of Motown recording activity out there and Carol Kaye was right in the middle of it. But the type of recording being done out there and the type of tracks Carol played on needs to be defined. The material is as follows:
a)Motown had a lot of artists signed to their label that were exclusively recorded on the West Coast. They included names like Bobby Darren, Tony Martin, Paul Peterson (of the Donna Reed Show), Soupy Sales, the Lewis Sisters, etc. Carol worked on many of these sessions.
b)Brenda Holloway hits like "Every Little Bit Hurts" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy," and "When I'm Gone" were exclusively cut by Carol and the West Coast musicians. Brenda never recorded in Detroit.
c)A lot of the glitzier more show-biz style albums like The Four Tops On Broadway, The Temptations In A Mellow Mood, The Supremes at Disneyland, and in particular, the Soundtrack from the TV Special TCB (Takin' Care of Business) with the Temptations and the Supremes which were all cut by Carol and the West Coast crew. TCB is of particular importance to the dispute because that may be the root of many of Carol's claims and the resultant confusion over bass credits. TCB featured a lot of medley's of famous Motown hits performed by the Temps and Supremes including "Stop In The Name of Love," "You Keep Me Hangin' On," "Baby Love," "I Hear A Symphony," "Come See About Me," "Get Ready," and others. Maurice King, Motown's music supervisor for live shows, was involved with that soundtrack and told me Carol was definitely on that soundtrack. So Carol did play those tracks BUT THEY WERE REMAKES OF THE ORIGINAL HITS FOR A SYNDICATED TV SHOW. THEY WERE NOT THE ORIGINAL SINGLES AND THEY WERE ALL PLAYED DIFFERENTLY AND ARRANGED DIFFERENTLY FROM THE ORIGINAL SINGLES.
d)There was lot's of demo and B-side work was also done in LA often for their frontline stars. Motown was first and foremost a publishing company. Every time they had a hit, they recut it several times with other acts to increase their Jobete royalties. (Jobete was Motown's publishing arm.) This gave rise to tracks like Smokey Robinson cutting "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" or The Temps and Supremes cutting "I Second That Emotion" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (from the album Diana Ross Join The Temptations & The Supremes). Both of the last two titles were also claimed by Carol, so again, this may explain it. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" also falls into the same category. It was from the same Temps-Supremes album and was an album filler remake. Carol played on that version but didn't play either of the original Marvin Gaye or Diana Ross hit versions. Most of the titles described in the previous paragraph were produced by West Coast Motown producer Frank Wilson so we know they didn't come from Detroit.
e)Everyone connected with the company has always told me Motown liked to assign specific roles to everyone and all aspects of their operation. They didn't want live musicians doing studio work and vice versa, and with a few exceptions like Smokey, they didn't want artists to be songwriters and producers, etc. Everyone had a role. The Detroit musicians had a specific role. That was to cut the R&B singles. The West Coast musicians had an important role also but it was different. That role was what I explained in the above four points.
(updated May 2nd, 2001)
Thanks to Paul from England (I guess people from all over the world love this music). There are two stories that appeared in the Detroit News about Jamerson and the Funk Brother's upcoming Documentary (The articles are mini documentaries in themselves).
Keeping the Funk Alive By Susan Whitall / The Detroit News and an uncreditied piece
entitled "A Whos Who of the Funk Brothers" with pictures of the surviving Studio musicians from Motown Detroit.
(update 12/15/2k) The James Jamerson documentary film is going well. From Dr. Licks, "Hi Bob, I'm in Detroit filming So far we cut the Funks (Brothers, the surviving Motown rhythm section from the 1960's) with Chaka, Montell Jordan, Levert, Joan Osborn, Bootsy, Ben Harper, and Meshell Ndegeocello"
(updated 12/14/2k) Article from Bass Player Magazine from 1990. "Interview with the Ghost of Studio A" by Dr. Licks (with James Jamerson Jr.), (used with permission)(updated 9/20/2k) - Chuck Rainey's new website has a tribute to Jamerson HERE(updated 7/17/2k) On Amazon.Com from Motown Records "Motown sings Motown Treasures" Recorded in the 1960's and previously un-released. Motown Artist sing the songs made famous by other Motown Artists. Jamerson is the only listed bassist. A really interesting recording (with sound sample of all the tracks but one) and there is hope of more to come. Thanks to Arvey McFarland of Salt Lake City for the heads up on this release.
3/7/2000 - James Jamerson was the first bassist to be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame under the newly created category "Sideman". BTW, RNRHOF credits Jamerson with "I Was Made To Love Her" and "Reach Out, I'll Be There" in their tribute. 2/12/2k - Here is a partial list of hits Jamerson played bass on. Others inducted in this years selection include drummer Earl Palmer, saxophonist King Curtis, drummer Hal Blaine, and Guitarist Scotty Moore.
Here is a link to the Official TBL Archives (which has been around since Oct 2000) where Jamerson has been dicussed before. Put "Jamerson" in the search engine and research what has been said in this international bass list. You can use other words and names too...
Several other articles including a current series on Motown at 40 and the Top 100 Artist & Entertainers from Michigan (Jamerson is #83). This list includes people like Madonna, Aretha Franklyn, Great Scott, Hemmingway and many art forms. (2/13/2k - I originally identified the list as the top 100 Musicians. This list just got way more exclusive!)
This article is dated Aug 4th, 1983 (2 days after Jamerson's death)
Here is another nice story by Brian McCollum dated Feb 8th 1998. "Dancing In The Streets" identifies songs which define Motown's Detroit era with some disputed tracks listed as being recorded there (with 40 sound files as examples).
From Amazon.com, there is a series of recordings from Motown dubbed "Lost & Found" in this series we get a listen to some previously unreleased music featuring Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Miracles which almost certainly feature Jamerson's bass playing. Of special note is the Four Tops (Lost & Found) - Breaking Through which shows a rare glimps of the Jazz side of Jamerson with the Tops singing Pop standards (The word POP ment something different in the early 1960's) with sample sound files.
Links to a site on the Funk Brothers outlining which musicians were used during what period.
(From The History of Rock and Roll site). Another section of this site dealing with Soul Music.
Go to All Music Guide enter James Jamerson in search, click "to see the complete listing..." under "appears on" list, then click on "Various Artist - Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles..." which is a compilation of all the singles from 1959 to 1971. It list all the musicians of that period. AMG recently updated their site so the direct link does not work anymore. You can hear samples of most of the songs on "Hitsville...Motown Singles Collection" on Amazon.com's site here including some obscure releases. Very interesting.
An excerpt from the Both Sides Now Publications (by Mike Callahan) website on the Berry Gordy & Motown Stories
"As the Los Angeles offices continued to grow and the Detroit headquarters shrank, a company newsletter in March, 1972, stated, "There are no plans at present to phase out the Detroit
operations, as many rumors suggest". In June, Motown announced that it was closing it's Detroit offices and moving it's headquarters to Los Angeles. While the move probably made sense because of the increasing emphasis Berry Gordy was putting into making movies and television shows, many Motown fans believe the company's heart and soul was lost when it abandoned Detroit, that its most creative days were the 13 years from 1959 to 1972."
Cornelius Grant guitarist, songwriter and Musical Director for the Temptations for nearly 20 years.
It seems every few years we loose more musical legends. Here is the score with the Funk Brothers.
An article from BassPlayer Magazine interview with Anthony Jackson part1 and part2 in which he credits Jamerson as a mentor. Fact: As recently as June of 1998 BassPlayer published a transcription of "I Was Made To Love Her" and James Jamerson was credited as the bassist.
Affidavits by Brian Holland & Hank Cosby regarding "I Was Made To Love Her", "Bernadette", "Reach Out...", "Can't Help Myself" & 7 other disputed Motown records.
An interesting Amazon.com page reviewing Stevie Wonder's Legends record for Motown including sound files of "I Was Made to Love Her and other songs from that era. You can hear other records Jamerson & the Detroit crew did during that time.
Rolling Stone's Marshall Crenshaw aticle on Jamerson from September 29, 1983
7/2/99 I received a post from a gentleman named Marc Petrillo who wrote me (as a generalization) supporting the position that Jamerson was not the player on the Motown records in question. I wrote him and said I would respond to his post if he agreed that I could put his statements and my responses on this website. He agreed and here is that email exchange. Please note that Marc is the first one to write with this position as my reason in responding. I have added a discussion group page so feel free to stop by and leave a comment.