James Jamerson & The Funk Brothers

The Man Behind The Dance

Image of James Jamerson

As you will have read in my biog section, I hold James Jamerson entirely responsible for awakening my earliest awareness of rhythm. What people don’t realise when they’re dancing to Motown music is that it’s not the drums that are making them move, it’s the sheer rhythmical genius and groove Jamerson laid down with his Bass guitar that keeps them on the dance floor. Likewise, as a child under the age of 6 with no musical awareness to speak of, from the first time I heard Stevie Wonder singing ‘I Was Made To Love Her’, I was hooked by ‘The Hook’!

To this day, every time I hear a Motown record on the radio, if it’s a Jamerson Bass line on it, it’ll be the first thing I hone in on. Believe me when I say that this man is well and truly rooted under my skin. His Bass lines literally move my soul and it’s a crying shame he was tormented by his own demons that would eventually destroy him. If he could have kept things together, there is little doubt that he would have been rediscovered in the late 20th century and given the accolades he so richly deserved. This was the man who would subconciously dictate what everyone else was going to play in the studio. Berry Gordy might have held the reins on what came out of Motown, but it was Jamerson who would subliminally call the shots to the rest of the Funk Brothers when they were nailing hits in the Detroit Snake Pit.

In 2004 I had the privilege of seeing The Funk Brothers live with Bob Babbitt, Uriel Jones and the other living unsung heroes who had made millions of people around the world get off their asses onto dance floors, irrespective of race or differences. Although James Jamerson, Benny Benjamin and ‘Pistol’ Allen had left us, there was no mistaking that they were there in spirit, channeling their grooves into a cold, British, January night in a small theatre. It was quite a moving experience to be in the same room as those musicians who had anonymously made such a huge impact on so many peoples lives, including mine. For me, it really doesn’t get much better than these guys and I am so grateful to have heard them at such an early age.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.