Funk Machine, The Novel

James Jamerson

Yesterday was a sad day in the world of bass and music in general. On August 2, 1983, James Jamerson – the man responsible for so much of the Motown sound for many years – passed away at the age of 47.

As bassists gather today in Detroit to honor the late bassist, another bassist is paying tribute with his own unique idea.

Patrick Rowling began thinking about writing a story about the disappearance of Jamerson’s famous bass, “The Funk Machine” about five years ago. As most bassists can attest, the fact that this bass remains missing is a tragedy.

So Rowling decided to fictionalize the story behind the fate of the bass in a book entitled The Funk Machine: A Highly Unlikely Yet Entirely Possible History of the World’s Most Famous Bass.

The Funk Machine was a 1962 Fender Precision Jamerson acquired after his first bass, a 1957 Precision he dubbed “Black Beauty”, was stolen. Jamerson carved the heel of his new bass with a ballpoint pen with a single word: “FUNK”.

The bass was stolen days before Jamerson’s passing in 1983. To this day, the location of the bass remains a mystery.

In the book’s introduction, Rowling sets the stage for his story:

…But one final and seemingly incomprehensibly cruel twist of fate occurred only days before his passing. As he lay on his deathbed suffering from the final stages of kidney failure, his apartment was broken into. Among the items stolen was his trusted and beloved instrument of over two decades, the Funk Machine. Vanishing without a trace, remaining among the missing ever since.

It is at that precise larcenous moment — when the known facts of the instrument’s history become pure speculation — at which our story begins.

Rowling’s book is being offered as a free download, with donations accepted.

“It is there. Read it. If you like it and want to send a gift, there is a PayPal link and YOU can set an amount based on your experience, enjoyment, etc. Or, not,” Rowling shared.

The Funk Machine: A Highly Unlikely Yet Entirely Possible History of the World’s Most Famous Bass is available from Rowling’s website.

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  1. Ahhhhh, JJ— My hero!

  2. Harrison

    Does anyone know of a link to this pdf? Can’t find it anywhere online.
    Read it ages ago, but won’t again.