Nate Watts

Bass legend talks Stevie Wonder gig, upcoming solo record

Exclusive video interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
June 19, 2023

Nate Watts, Stevie Wonder’s longtime bassist, is responsible for the unforgettable bass lines on songs like “I Wish,” “Sir Duke,” “Do I Do” and many others. The Detroit native got his start in music all the way back in elementary school, playing trumpet in a trio with friends Ollie Brown and Ray Parker Jr. He later made the switch to bass and joined up with a local group called the Final Decision. In 1974, his career took a major turn when he successfully auditioned for Wonder’s band, which started a long-running work relationship that continues to this day. Beyond his roles as Wonder’s bassist and musical director, Watts is also a prolific session musician who has worked with the likes of Smokey Robinson, Seal, Sergio Mendes, Paul McCartney, Marcus Miller, Gloria Gaynor, The Pointer Sisters, Johnny Mathis, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Teena Marie, and The Jackson 5. At the moment, he’s in the process of recording his first-ever solo album.

Watch our interview with Nate!

See Jon’s blog, with key takeaways from this interview here.

Comments on Nate Watts

  1. Peter Rochman says:

    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for the interview with Nate Watts. It’s great to learn a little more about him and I look forward to his new music. It’s timely in that I am trying to learn “Sir Duke” – it’s on my Bass ‘Bucket list’. Every time I work on a bar, I wonder how he came up with it. Lots of root to octave stuff that really works. It might be simple for Nate!!!

    I chatted with you before – through Jason Heath. I was studying DB but hurt my back – couldn’t lift it into the car any more so I switched to electric which I haven’t played for eons. I’m in the category you talk about the getting older but still want to learn – you know the one where the spirit is willing but the body is weak!

    I know I could learn lots from your site/program but unfortunately I live in New Zealand and our dollar is so low compared to the US one that it almost doubles the cost to join. Maybe some day.

    Thanks again for your work with all the interviews. I love the practical stuff like when Nate says: “Keep it simple”. It’s all I know!



    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Thanks, Pete. Sorry to hear about your medical woes. Have you seen either of my interviews with Dr. Randall Kertz? He’s a chiropractor, acupuncturist… and a bass player! Here’s a link to my latest interview with him. Maybe you’ll find some benefit from it:

      Hit me up offline about getting you back to playing bass. There may be something you hadn’t thought of that’ll get you back in the groove. In the meantime, good luck with “Sir Duke.” It’s pretty a pretty involved line — especially with the liberties Nate takes at the end — but once you get it down, it’s a blast to play. Let me know if you need any help with that too.

      Thanks again for weighing in.

  2. marie dega-banidol says:

    Lifted from Peter!”I’m in the category you talk about the getting older but still want to learn – you know the one where the spirit is willing but the body is weak!” So A BIG THANK YOU JON! for encouraging the like of Pete and I to follow their musical dream!
    I have played guitar since I was 10 and sadly discovered late that Bass was IT for me and I am throwing myself more and more into it using every opportunity to play, nice people give me a platform
    Mr Wats I am ashamed to say I litteraly JUST NOW discovered you and just stumbled on this video! Thank you for saying “keep it simple” like Wootten I decided I would love him forever because he said mistakes are good!!, he as long as you dont let it stop you and just keep going to the next Right note!!! :-))) thats so me with my mistakes and just sliding to the next to get back in key, it spoke to me straight away!
    Mrs Wats because you are Stevie Wonders friend and bass player and because each time i hear a bass line of Stevie I think:” thats how I want to play, thats a bass riffs I like” you are now in my heart forever too!
    Long live Great instrumentalists like you to keep inspiring us!!THANK YOU

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Welcome to the low end, Marie! You’re never too late to start learning bass. Hit me up anytime with your bass-playing questions. I’m happy to help!

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