A bass-playing friend owned it for many years
By David Sands
May 26, 2017
A 1961 Fender Precision Bass owned by Motown session great James Jamerson has gone up for auction.
The instrument, which Heritage Auctions has put up for bidding, was owned by Jamerson from 1962 until about 1967 or 1968, when he loaned it to his friend “Billy” Hayes. As of today (May 26) at 9 a.m. the current bid for the P-Bass was $10,000.
Hayes, a fellow bassist who played for a number of years in John Lee Hooker’s band, was close with Jamerson; in his words, they spent “countless hours together eating, drinking, playing cards, jamming and checking out music all over Detroit.”
As fellow bassists, they also shared a musical bond and would occasionally lend each other instruments. In the case of the 1961 Fender P-Bass, he says:
“Somewhere around 1967 or 1968, I don’t recall specifically, I had a gig but no instrument. Occasionally, I found myself in that situation. I mentioned it to James and he offered to help. He said he had a bass I could borrow…[a] Fender Precision Bass with a sunburst finish. He never asked for it back and I continued to use it for years with his blessing. James and his family left Detroit for California when Motown Records moved to Los Angeles and we never saw each other again. ”
The legendary James Jamerson is best known for his trailblazing session work with Motown Records during the 1960s and 70s, recording with a group of studio musicians that called themselves The Funk Brothers; much of that work was uncredited at the time of its release.
As a session artist, Jamerson played on 30 #1 Billboard hits and 70 #1 R&B hits. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him into its ranks in 2000, the first year session artists were welcomed into the institution.
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