Keys And Chords
NEWS / In a year that has been devastating in the losses the music world has experienced, we are sad to report another. James Jamerson, Jr., one of the greatest R&B bass players ever – and the son of perhaps the most noted R&B bass player ever - has died.
James Jamerson Sr. was an integral part of the emergence of the Motown label in the 1960s, his unique bass work being the foundation of so many of the great Funk Brothers performances for just about every Motown act. So, when his son, James Jr, picked up the bass, people took notice. It is often difficult for a child to perform in the shadow of his or her parent, and the senior Jamerson, who died in 1983, cast a large shadow in the music world. But rather than shrivel in that shadow, James Jr. cast his own spotlight, developing into a musician who would be lauded worldwide for his virtuosity.
The Detroit-born James Jr. began his public notoriety by playing in the Temptations road band in the late 60s, but soon developed into arguably the most sought-after bass player in the R&B world, playing on albums of such notables as Tavares, The Four Tops, The 5th Dimension, The Crusaders, Johnny Taylor, The Dramatics, Teena Marie and countless others. He also toured with Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan and may other greats, and appeared in the movie Standing In The Shadows of Motown. In the late 70s, Jamerson formed the group Chanson and landed a hit with “Don’t Hold Back.” And, importantly, he developed his own style as a player that many felt took his father’s legacy in a new and exciting direction.
Sadly, illness became a constant companion of James Jr. over the past few years. I last saw him in early 2016, appearing with Motown arranger Paul Riser, Sr. and others at a wonderful community event in Detroit celebrating Motown history. He was clearly struggling physically, but roused the audience to a frenzy by pulling out his bass and working through the intro of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”
It is difficult to lose one’s father early, and just as difficult to enter into the same business. But James Jamerson, Jr. did both, and did them with class and with unbounded talent. He became the kind of man and musician that extended the Jamerson family and Motown tradition for excellence into the 21st Century. And his influence on bass players will continue for years to come. Godspeed, James. (Bron: Soultracks.com)