Thursday, March 24, 2016

Passings: Bassist James Jamerson, Jr. (1958 - 2016)

James Jamerson, Jr., the son of renowned Motown/Funk Brothers bassist James Jamerson and an in-demand bass player himself for over forty years, has died at the age of 58. No cause of death has been announced, but it is known that he has had a number of medical problems in recent years.

Jamerson was, obviously, influenced throughout his life by music and hung around regularly at the Motown studios while in his teens. In 1969, he became part of the Gordy Road Shows, mostly touring as the bassist for the Temptations. He also became an in demand session bassist with his first credit being a 1972 Valerie Simpson album and continuing throughout the decade with the likes of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., Tavares, Herb Alpert, the 5th Dimension and many others.

A long time musical cohort, David Williams, joined Jamerson in the mid-70's to form the group Chanson. Their one, self-titled, album included the Earth, Wind & Fire horns and Boz Scagg's rhythm section and produced one hit, Don't Hold Back, which went to number 8 on the R&B singles and 21 on the Hot 100 in 1979.

During the 80's, he continued his session work with the likes of B.B. King and Bob Dylan and struck up a professional relationship with Tina Marie that saw them working together much of her career. By the turn of the century, he had moved behind the board and was doing mostly production work.

A selection of albums on which Jamerson played:

  • Valerie Simpson Exposed - Valerie Simpson
  • Check It Out - Tavares
  • Rocket Man (A Tribute to Elton John) - Hugo Montenegro
  • Two of Us - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. 
  • Chanson - Chanson
  • Street Life - Crusaders
  • Rise - Herb Alpert
  • Royal Jam - The Crusaders with B.B. King
  • Back to Basics - Temptations
  • Starchild - Tina Marie
  • Knocked Out Loaded - Bob Dylan
  • Hard Stuff - Wayne Kramer