James Jamerson: The Untold Story of Motown’s Bass Hero

Jaz Moss sent us his latest video, which is an incredibly well-done, detailed look at the work of James Jamerson.

Jaz said it took three months of research to produce this retrospective on the Motown legend.

“Jamerson’s unique style and virtuosity have made him one of the most influential bassists in the history of music,” Jaz shared. “His melodic and intricate bass lines were a defining feature of the Motown sound and can be heard on countless hits by artists like The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and The Jackson 5. In this video, we not only explore Jamerson’s life and music but also delve into his playing style and techniques. The electric bass was a relatively new instrument during James Jamerson’s time, so in this video, we’ll also explore five specific techniques that he adapted from his experience playing the jazz double bass and successfully applied to his electric bass playing.”


  • 0:00 – Prologue: Who was James Jamerson?
  • 0:55 – Chapter 1: Early Years
  • 2:38 – Chapter 2: The Funk Brothers
  • 5:16 – Chapter 3: Jamerson’s Sound
  • 5:56 – 5 things that define Jamerson’s sound
  • 11:30 – Chapter 4: The Downfall

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Share your thoughts

  1. Greywoulf

    Good, but unfortunately narrator thought he was the star of this ‘documentary’ of Jamerson so we saw way more of him than we did of Jamerson. Photos and videos of Jamerson performing were just quickly flickered across the screen where they might instead have been given enough time to be appreciatively viewed…So, fairly good overall, but heavily flawed, IMO…

  2. Randy

    Good job. Every bass player owes him.

  3. Robert H Riley

    as a kid growing up in Bklyn in mid-late 60s my mom played motown on the stereo all the time, and I’ve been playing bass since ’77 and everyone I know credits Jamerson for his influence




    I played drums for him in his house when I was 10 years old, he gave me a warm approval and said “You’re pretty good, you can hold a beat” as I played to What’s going on, that played through his in house basement speaker system. He told me Motown was moving to California and to call him, which I never did, very regrettably though. Joey his son and classmate of mine are still good friends to this day ?.

  6. Michael Ray

    Hmmm . . .I think Chuck Rainey was on Bernadette and it was ‘Hitsville’ not ‘Hotsville. . . .

    • Greywoulf

      Yeah, well the promo blurb for this video raved about the producer “spending 3 months researching” Jamerson, as if that were a real BD? (LOL!!) ~IMO Jamerson is well worth years of study before one can claim expert knowledge of his performances!

  7. Steve Masters

    There is more to be known. As a regular church attendee as a teen in the 70s in Los Angeles I had the privilege of seeing Brother Jamison play bass in the choir stand every Sunday morning. He skillfully picked out his part in church music with the accompanyment from Brother Leslie Bush, arguabily the greatest organist on the planet and Brother Charles Johnson on piano. A trio for the ages!! Ollie Brown occasionally joined in on drums.

  8. Mitch Cook

    I never met my cousin James on my father’s side of the family from South Carolina. I use to listen to lots of Motown music back in the day. I only really found out that he was related to me when my father passed away in 2010 when relatives attended the funeral and at the repass started having conversations and that’s when I found out. Back in the day I even sang with a group which we’ve done many of Motown songs not realizing that we had family that was actually in Motown. Small world isn’t it. I only hope that when his health was failing him, and before he closed his eyes that he made his peace with God. To each and everyone of you that are responsible for bringing this information on him, I just want to thank you for magnifying his life and not with a glimpse but in such a perspective that people around the world will really have got to have known him through this medium, and the phenomenal gift that he had in the contribution that he made for Motown in many other places, sincerely yours Mitch Cook.

  9. Merrick Anderson

    I Was Born to Love Her by Mr. Wonder is my favorite Motown bassline, jumps right out of the car radio!