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.

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