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Edisto Island Bassist James Jamerson
Edisto Island Bassist James Jamerson

Motown Legend James Jamerson’s Hometown Edisto Island Will Rename Street After the Bassist

A name that forever is bound with modern bass, or for that matter, music history, James Jamerson, has been getting his due over the years. “Steamboat Landing Road” in his birthtown Edisto Island, South Carolina will be renamed to “James Lee Jamerson Memorial Way” in his honor.

Jamerson was a prime architect of the Motown Sound and a core member of The Funk Brothers, the session musicians who performed on Motown records for artists like The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and innumerable others. He revolutionized bass playing which till that point consisted of playing roots and fifth notes. He added jazz and blues influences to gospel and soul-based pop, making bass lines a fundamental component of songs. However, at the time session artists were not credited by Motown until much later.

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Several of his iconic bass lines include “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Gaye and Terrell, “My Girl” by The Temptations, and “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder, among scores of others. Every major rock and pop bass guitarist from Paul McCartney to Geddy Lee of Rush has been influenced by him. Furthermore, Jamerson has been recognized as the greatest bass player of all time by Bass Player and Rollin Stone magazines.

An official ceremony followed by a musical tribute at Edisto Beach Civic Center will be held on August 19th. This is another just and long-due public marker of his legacy after his grave headstone was upgraded to a black marble block featuring his image and a bass guitar sculpture in 2021.

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Guitarist. I write on music and praxis.

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