BillyRadd Music

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Seeing James Jamerson's Unique Style

Here's a visual representation of the riffs played by bass player James Jamerson on Stevie Wonder's recording of For Once In My Life. One of the most influential bass players in pop music, James played on many of Motown's biggest hits with pretty much all the recording stars of that era, usually uncredited. Stevie Wonder's track of this song is often singled out by bassists as the best example of Jamerson's style (he did his own arranging) since no two bars of his bass line are played alike during the entire song.

BTW, he picked the strings mostly with only his right index finger, nicknamed "The Hook".

It is also interesting to note that, troubled by alcoholism, James Jamerson, died destitute in Los Angeles at the age of 47 of cirrhosis, heart failure and pneumonia in 1983, and was said to be bitter about his lack of recognition.

Many of us can recognize the distinctive signature of his bass playing on the dozen #1 hits he worked on for Motown from 1961 through 1973, but most of us don't know his name.

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