On Friday, January 20, James Jamerson, legendary bassist of The Funk Brothers and the soul behind countless legendary Motown hits, became the fourth recipient of the prestigious International Bassist Award. Samson’s VP of Operations, Jack Knight, and Stevie Wonder were on hand to present the award posthumously to Jamerson’s widow, Anne, and sons, Joseph and James Jr.
In addition to the award, Jamerson was honored with a star-studded tribute concert, featuring over 40 artists and an 18-piece choir performing 20 of his greatest hits. The show’s highlights included James Jamerson Jr. playing bass on the opening number, “What's Going On”, Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple fame and Black Country Communion singing “Ooo Baby Baby”, Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots) and Peter Erskine playing together on “Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing” and Stevie Wonder performing “I Was Made to Love Her” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours”, along with closing the show with encore renditions of “Ain't No Mountain High Enough” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).”
The evening was hosted by Nate Watts, Stevie Wonder’s Bassist and Musical Director. “Hosting the Jamerson Tribute with Samson was such an honor,” said Watts. “With so many great musicians and friends, it was an unforgettable night. The proof was the smile on Momma Jamerson's face.”
The tribute was considered by many to be long overdue, as Jamerson was one of the unsung heroes of the Motown sound. Although few among the record-buying public know him by name, they’re well acquainted with his work. His groove-oriented melodicism brought about a broader awareness of the bass guitar.
“Having a hand in organizing this well deserved, and way long overdue tribute to Mr. James Jamerson was truly one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Mark Menghi, Marketing Director for Samson Technologies. “People may not realize that Jamerson played on more #1 hits than The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones combined! It was a night of incredible music, and having Stevie Wonder and the Jamerson family involved made it nothing short of magical. I know James was smiling down on everyone as we celebrated all of his incredible music.”
“Dad always wanted to be a teacher, but he got a 'D' in music class,” says James Jamerson Jr. “From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank Nate Watts, Samson, Hartke and Zoom for bringing all of my friends, family, musicians from Detroit and some sensational rock n' rollers together to show the world that he WAS a teacher. And if Dad was there, he would have cried… I know I did.”
Stevie Wonder was on hand to present the International Bassist Award posthumously to Jamerson's son, James Jamerson Jr.
The Jamerson Family (Mrs. Anne Jamerson, center) received a standing ovation from the crowd for Jamerson's contributions to music.
Will Lee and Nate Watts, who shared a few laughs, were two of the 60+ musicians that took the stage to honor Jamerson.
One of the highlights of the evening was Glenn Huges, of Deep Purple fame, singing "Ooh Baby Baby."
Led by Stevie Wonder, every musician took the stage for encore renditions of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)."