James Jamerson, Jr. dead at 58

James Jamerson, Jr.James Jamerson, Jr. dead at 58

Son of Motown great leaves own music legacy

By David Sands
March 26, 2016

James Jamerson, Jr., son of the legendary Motown bassplayer James Jamerson and a sought after bassist in his own right, has died.

He passed away Wednesday in Detroit at the age of 58. Although no cause of death was immediately announced, the musician had been struggling for several years with ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects the spine.

His father James Jamerson, regarded as one of the most influential bassists of the modern era, was an anchor member of  the Funk Brothers, the group of studio musicians who were responsible for the bulk of Motown Records’ musical output during the 1960s.

Although he could play in his father’s style, the younger Jamerson had tremendous range. Over the course of his career, he performed with an eclectic roster of artists that included Motown-related acts like like The Temptations and The Pointer Sisters, as well as the likes of Bob Dylan, Teena Marie, B.B. King and The 5th Dimension.

“He was a chameleon on the bass,” his friend Scott Forbes told The Detroit Free Press. “The stuff he did with Dylan was real simple, and the stuff he did with Herb Albert was very complicated.”

The late musician recorded his first Motown song at fourteen years old. In the late 1970s, his disco group Chanson found Top 40 success with their song “Don’t Hold Back.”  Towards the end of his life, he paid respects to his father’s musical legacy by performing in various Motown tribute shows.

Jamerson’s surviving family includes three daughters, four grandchildren, a brother and sister and his mother, Annie Jamerson.

FBPO's Jon Liebman with James Jamerson, Jr., 2011

FBPO’s Jon Liebman with Jamerson in 2011

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