If you’ve been online recently, you’ll know the most talked about story in the bass community in the last month has been the auction for a bass previously owned by James Jamerson.
Owned by the Motown genius from 1962 until approximately 1968, the 1961 Fender Precision was reportedly given to fellow Detroit bassist Billy Hayes around that time. Hayes used it for gigs with artists like John Lee Hooker. Incredibly, he left it completely the same as when Jamerson gave it to him – including three of the four original La Bella flatwound strings that Jamerson used.
There has been some controversy among readers as to the validity of the bass’s actual heritage, with many saying it wasn’t his bass or that if it is, Hayes didn’t have the right to sell it.
The bass was auctioned by Heritage Auctions with bidding starting on May 29th and final auction dates of June 17th and 18th. Bassists from every walk of life at least gave the auction a shot with many bids coming in between $500 and $1,000. (The lowest bid was a mere $31.) The new owner of a piece of history won the relic with a winning bid of $68,750.
That’s some serious money, but it’s also one of the last musical ties to Jamerson, who was a victim of theft in his later years. His most used bass, dubbed the Funk Machine, was stolen long ago, as was his Ampeg B15 amp.
Do you think that it’s a fair price?