A Legend Often Forgotten
Many of you probably don’t recognize that name, and I don’t blame you because he was held in relative obscurity for a while. Too long really. But today marks the 34th anniversary of James Jamerson’s death. Who’s James Jamerson you are inevitably going to ask?
What do all of these tasty spoons have in common you ask?
The answer is James Jamerson, yes, the man you probably know nothing about.
Motown records, one of the most popular and recognizable labels in music, did not start crediting their session musicians until 1971. James Jamerson was part of a group of session musicians called the Funk Brothers, and these guys were essentially the studio musicians for Motown Records as a whole, Jamerson was the uncredited bassist on most of the releases from Motown in the 60s and 70s. He reportedly played on 95% of Motown’s releases from 1962 to 1968.
As a member of the Funk Brothers, Jamerson played Bass on 30 (yes, 30) billboard #1 hits, and 70 (yes, 70) R&B #1 hits. That number of 30 billboard #1 hits surpasses the Beatles for the most of all time by an artist or group. So yea, this cat is the real deal.
Jamerson moved with Motown from DET–>LA in 1972, and on August 2, 1983 he lost a long battle with alcoholism and died.
So today we tip our caps and say thank you to this forgotten pioneer of Soul/R&B and most other genres of music. We may not have known of you, but now that we do we can appropriately and collectively say, “Thank you”.