Hi all,

The post below was sent to me on October 2001 as an email from "Micheal" who, did not mention his last name (which is not important to his questions anyway). He also posted here in my discussion group so I thought, "with all this talk (and/or writing) lately about how someone thinks they were ripped off of their recording credits and how it in their view is some gender based conspiracy not to mention talk of Plagiarism of some bass lines " maybe I would post this on the Jamerson site. After all, someone has to speak for the "Whiskey breathed..." testosterone factory that actually did the work (made the music). Michael's post content is accented by the color blue, First off I am not upset/angry/mad about anything. You'd be surprized how many times people have assumed that I was angry about "something".

My reason for taking particular notice of this email's questions (out of the many I received over the years) is I believe Michael is from Britain. His post represents, IMO, the kind of (mis) information that is getting out there (into the world) to people who do not necessarilly know the history of Jamerson's participation enough not to ask questions about this type of article. Michael is also a bassist and while I have not heard Michael's band, his passion for the music comes over loud and clear is his post.

I hold no ill feelings towards the publication he mentions as they can only print what they are told in an interview once they decide to print that interview (they don't make the stuff up) and the speaker takes responsibilties for their statements however, IMO, this publication chose the wrong individual to discuss Motown with regards to the songs mentioned below which is in contradiction with regards to what is generally known to have occured. I do appreiate Michael for bring it to my attention.

FROM: "Michael" on 25 Oct 2001, re: Jamerson Hits, Album Tracks, and 'B' Sides Search


Firstly, thanks for such a great site. Superb. But now the downer (?). I have been a lover of Motown and particularly the driving bass. When I finally found out about James and read about him wherever I could, I found myself in complete awe.

This Summer saw a publication in the UK at least called "Calling out around the world: A Motown Reader" Helter Skelter Publishing ISBN 1-900924-14-5 - a most excellent book and recommended reading for all, I would say. However, it carries in it an 8 page interview with CAROL KAYE in which Carol lays claim to most bass lines currently attributed to James, including "Reach Out", "Bernadette", "I was made to love her" and "I can't help myself".

standing in the shadows of motown
If you had looked over my Jamerson site fully (which you may have done by now) you should know that I am aware of such claims and have put the extended research on the subject by Jamerson's biographer, Allan "Dr. Licks" Slutsky on my site. I am of the opinion that the facts don't bode well for the claims made. First I gotta say, and I capitalize for emphasis, "I WAS NOT THERE" however, I have talked to a few that were there and have a connection to the person (Dr. Licks) who talked to most (if not all) that were there and wrote a book and produced a movie about it. He produced very good research in the process and once you see it, reason should suggest how it is received... I might note that you have quoted some of what the 8 page Kaye part of the book contains but said nothing from the book Standing In The Shadows Of Motown (aka SITSOM), which would contradict those claims, so I am left to presume that you have not seen SITSOM.

Unlike most detroit sessioners, it appears the LA lady and others involved in LA kept strict diaries / logs of sessions / producers, etc, and appears that it can be substantiated. I was naturally very shocked - especially at a time when James is finally getting the recognition he deserved.

I am of the belief that there is nothing Kaye could do to diminish the well deserved recognition of Jamerson and the Funk Brothers' achievements. What she may do to her own legacy is another matter. The above paragraph suggests that Carol remembers everything and the Detroit people who actually did the recordings don't remember anything (see below in green). The movie Standing In The Shadows Of Motown crushes that myth IMO(more on this later).

You should consider the source of those statements. There is on one hand her "diary" and statements, and on the other hand there are the affidavits of Brian Holland and Henry Cosby who state that Jamerson was the bassist on those tracks Brian is a member of Holland Dozier Holland who wrote and produced Reach Out, Bernadette, & I Can't Help Myself and the Supremes music in question. Henry Cosby was the co-writer and producer of I Was Made To Love Her. I personally spoke to Mr Cosby (who passed away recently) and he confirmed that the bassist was Jamerson. If you want me to tell you one version of the "facts" is true and the other is a lie, which would suggest that you cannot look at them both and decide for yourself, this is something I choose not to do. I am just relating informational evidence I have heard or read on the subject from what I believe are credible sources and let you decide. (Example: Not too long ago Ron Brown, A former Motown West Coast bassist, posted his personal comments on this issue on my discussion group.)

Berry Gordy wrote the foreword to Jamerson's biography and allowed use of Jobete songs Jamerson played bass on to be print in notation and recorded for "Standing In The Shadows of Motown" (No one, to my knowledge, uses Jobete songs without permi$$ion). I have a photocopy of the original union contract with all the musicians listed for "Reach Out" I am told by Dr. Licks that most of the other contracts exist also. This doesn't even address the fact that some of the musicians who were on the sessions are still alive and Kaye does not give access to anyone who will substanciate her claims. In my opinion that is just what they are, claims...

If you had ever seen SITSOM (the Book), then you know that some 20 world class bassists including Marcus Miller, Chuck Rainey, John Pattituci, Paul McCartney, Anthony Jackson, Pino Palladino, Jimmy Haslip, Jack Bruce, John Entwistle, and Bob Babbitt, among others honor Jamerson with their renditions of some of the 49 transcriptions of HIS recorded work in SITSOM on a two CD set accompanying the book (including many of the songs claimed by Kaye). Paul McCartney had a written comment (p.102) stating how much of an honor it was to MC the introduction to the CD's.

Kaye has bass only versions of several basslines to Motown songs she CLAIMS to have recorded on her site but Motown allowed SITSOM to use copyrighted materials. Basslines in and of themselves are not copyrightable so she can re-create (play) and use them but, I don't see her using any actual Motown copyrighted material in her claims (for instance, a excerpt of the original recording containing Jamerson's playing, Chords and melody as an accompanyment to the bassline, or even a lead sheet with writers and publishing credits). No melody or chords in Kayes versions plus, IMO they don't sound like the record anyway. Different feel, attack, and in some instances different notes. Berry Gordy apparently doesn't back her up since he gave credit to Jamerson by allowing those songs to be in SITSOM, a book about Jamerson (It is ridiculous to have to keep restating the obvious) and no visable support to Kaye's claims.

What about the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame that inducted Jamerson and identified some of the songs claimed by Kaye as Jamerson's bassplaying?. The list goes on ad nauseum.

Then there is the documentary on the Funk Brothers (as the Motown Detroit studio musicians called themselves) titled (oddly enough, he said fecitiously) "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown" (aka SITSOM for short) from 2002. In the movie, there is a place where Jamerson's bassline to Bernadette is used as the underscore. Dr. Licks states "We took it right off the multitrack master tape". Dr. Licks seems to have a relationship with Motown. Why would that be if he were lying regarding who played on the tunes? I wonder what, if any, relationship the writers of the book you quoted have with Motown? I have read several times where Kaye spoke negatively of her Motown "experience" and said she wished she never worked for them. (* since this was written, the movie is available on DVD)

I have not heard or read Carol's claims to have worked for the producers on the originally released records (Motown always gave their producers credit right on the albums so we know the records were produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland and Hank Cosby). They were Detroit guys (HDH moved to L.A. in 1968 after they split with Motown. Hank Cosby lived in Detroit all his life). Many people are alive today who say it was Jamerson (another very long list). Just what substantiation (by Kaye, or better yet, someone other than Kaye) are we talking about here regarding her participation? What "others" are you talking about? Does the article actually give names?

I am told that Motown had offices in L.A. in the mid 60's. Gordy's prized possesion was always Jobete, which was his publi$hing company. He kept it privately long after he sold his interests in Motown. From the beggining with Jackie Wilson, he was always trying to sell songs. There are probably more recorded versions of some of the songs in question than you could shake a stick at as publishing demos and other uses. Most never see the light of day. Could Kaye have recorded one of them as a demo or for a TV special? yes, of course she could have but, that is not what I view her claims to be about. If the songs you are referring to in you question are the originally released versions by the original artists, all evidence I have seen says it was Jamerson on bass.

From Dr. Licks:

Hitsville's studio band the Funk Brothers (including keyboardists Earl Van Dyke, Johnny Griffith, and Joe Hunter; guitarists Joe Messina, Robert White, and Eddie Willis; percussionist Jack Ashford, and bassist Bob Babbit) vehemently denied her story since they were on the same sessions as Jamerson. I interviewed numerous West Coast musicians that Carol claimed played on her alleged West Coast Motown dates, including drummers Earl Palmer and Hal Blaine, percussionist Jerry Steinholtz and others. They all recalled playing numerous Motown sessions with Carol but none of them backed up her claims to the songs in question. Earl Palmer for instance recalled working with her behind a Motown act called The Lewis Sisters (not exactly the Four Tops or the Temptations) but that's all he could substantiate. His recent biography (which is wonderful) did not back up any of Carol's claims as she had predicted. Others LA musicians cited acts like Brenda Holloway, Bobby Darren, and lots of tracks on which they had no idea who they were for, or where they wound up. They didn't know if they were working demo sessions, B-side filler songs, or, actual hit singles. It was just a date and a paycheck. None of them remembered specific titles. On the other hand, the Detroit musicians remembered everything’ titles, time frames, anecdotes, producers, and arrangers, etc. This is stated with no disrespect to the LA musicians: besides, other than Carol, they're not the ones alleging they played the disputed material.


About the closest I have personally heard that seems to be Carol's bass playing on a Motown record she claimed is Brenda Holloway's "You Made Me So Very Happy" outside of her being busier in general than on her BB records (for instance), there was a definate attempt at delivering the Motown style but, I can definately hear the pick sound and the (relative to Jamerson's thick tone) different sound of the bass. To my ears it was a considerably thinner sound. I have been told that there are other records that Kaye has done for Motown (probably on bass and Guitar) involving the artists mentioned but I was also told they were a far cry from the Detroit stuff we are discussion now.

One of the common claims is that everybody is lying. Why should they? Jamerson is dead and it would be no skin off their nose to say it was someone else or just say nothing.

Is there a view on this from your side of the pond? Frankly, I find this very disturbing.

Yours sincerely, Michael.

PS: I'm a Motown / 60's soul devotee and lead an 8 piece covers band playing these famous songs (one very harrassed bassist involved !).

I can only speak for myself, but here are my observations on the subject. No, I have not seen the article you mention. (*NOTE: Since this was written I have in fact seen the entire article on Kaye and what was said about the Funk Brothers. The Kaye article was produced by the author/editor of the compilation of writers who make up this book. He even dissavows the Carl Lozito's account of the Funk Brothers participation in music as an editor's note in the forwards of his piece on Kaye). Since he was the editor it was his prerogative to pad his case I guess... In any event, I hope that Carol Kaye is served well by her decisions. It is my opinion that history will state that Jamerson made the music and Kaye made the claims. it's that simple. To most knowledgeable people, (musician or just 60's Motown fan) Jamerson's legacy is secure.

There are some publicaions on "this side of the pond" that have repeated the claims through "interviews" (both print and radio) and books. To demonstrate to you what I view as the irony of some of it:

There is a book by GPI Books called "Bass Heroes" ISBN 0-87930-274-7 from 1993 which is a collection of feature stories reprinted from Guitar Player magazine issues of previous years.

Bass Heroes CK Article
On page 157 there is a 1983 story that originally appeared in GP and was written by Jas Obrecht in which Ms Kaye claimed to play on some Motown hits. She never responded to any questions in that GP story so it was not really an interview (they never really asked her any questions that appeared in that story). In the foreword to the article Obrecht mentioned artists that she has worked for including the Temptations, Supremes, Stevie Wonder and the Four Tops, but no song titles.

Bass Heroes JJ Article
Jamerson's 1979 GP story by Dan Forte was also included in the "Bass Heroes" book (page 154). It was a true question and answer interview in which the interviewer gave him credit for "Reach Out" in the foreword to the main interview listing it as "one of his greatest basslines" but Jamerson was not asked and did not offer to list his recording credits in the actual interview.
In the back of the book (p.194) they listed a short discography for both bassists and Jamerson's discography included the Motown Story 1959-1971 (Later repackaged as the Motown Singles 1959-71) which include all of the disputed songs while Carol's discography on the very same page contained no Motown work.

The back cover of "Bass Heroes" states "...James Jamerson, backbone of Motown (name a motown hit from the 60's and he probably played on it)..."

Bass Player Magazine cover with  James Jamerson and Uriel Jones

In June 1998, Bass Player Magazine (p.41) gave credit to Jamerson for (among other songs claimed by Kaye,) I Was Made To Love Her and included a 2 bar transcription of his bassline in a story titled "United We Stand, The All-Time Great Rhythm Sections" by the Bass Player Staff. IMO the descrepancy is in the context of these two different types of articles. The one where she made the claims IMO is not a true interview. The way I see it, she made more of a statement that she did those records. The credits in the June `98 Bass Player Magazine were the result of independant research of a story about the Worlds' Greatest Rhythm section and Jamerson (some 15 years after he passed) & Uriel Jones were on the cover and BP gave Jamerson credit in the article. To me this suggests that Jamerson was never big on saying "I did this and that". While I personaly think he might have believed that the public should know who he was, he should not have to toot his own horn about it... so to speak. I do believe him to have been a proud man. Carols seems not to have a problem talking about herself.

Bass Player January 2000 - Feature story 100 YEARS OF BASS - in the section that deals with the 60's (p.34) lists the scene (NY, LA, Motown etc...) and players. Jamerson was the first individual profiled and is credited again with the Motown singles 1959-1971 compilation and Supremes sing H-D-H.

Carol Kaye was identified along with Joe Osborne as L.A. players. There is a picture of Kaye playing guitar (rather than bass). The article mentions Carol working for (L.A.) Motown acts but no names and no song titles.

I did some reserach on the net about the book that Michael quoted from and here is a review from:

Soulful Kinda Music, at http://members.tripod.com/SoulfulKindaMusic/bookreviews.htm

Calling Out Around The World A Motown Reader by Kingsley Abbott – Helter Skelter Publishing – ISBN 1-900924-14-5

Here’s another good idea for a book. Kingsley Abbott has collected what he felt to be the best pieces of writing on classic Motown from the Sixties and gathered them together for this book. Most had previously been published previously in some format and are reproduced in their original format here. Some, like the piece I contributed, were updated specially for the book, and others were written specially for the book. Overall though, the articles are good, and make interesting reading, especially as the authors come from both sides of the Atlantic. Look out for this book because it is another essential buy.

This book is simular to the "Bass Heroes" Book from 1993 in that it is a collection of previously published independant writings by, in this case, non connected individuals. While this is alright, we still do not know who actually wrote the section on Carol. It also raises the question, "How was Jamerson represented in this book?" (*NOTE: Since this was written I have in fact seen the entire article on Kaye and what was said about the Funk Brothers. The Kaye article was produced by the author/editor of the compilation of writers who make up this book. He even dissavows the Carl Lozito's account of the Funk Brothers participation in music as an editor's note in the forwords of his piece on Kaye). Since he was the editor it was his perrogative to pad his case I guess...

(UPDATE) - December 2002 - Here is the latest magazine cover for Jamerson on the ocassion of the release of Standing In The Shadows of Motown (the movie). The article is entitled :The Dance Floor Never Stood A Chance!" subtitled "Inside The James Jamerson Style" with a side bar by Bob Babbitt: In Jamerson's Style... Bernadette is one of the songs that is analyzed by Chuck Rainey, Michael Henderson, Phil Chen, Ralph Armstrong , J.V. Collier, Wilton Felder, James Jamerson Jr., and of course Bob Babbitt. How do you think these players come out with regards to this controversy (so called)
(UPDATE) December 2003 - I hear the Funk Brothers are going to recieve a lifetime achievement award at the 2004 Grammys in February. They are sure getting credit for making all that wonderful music and as Allan Slutsky put it "If they were there, (to make the music) so was Jamerson". Sorry Carol.

PS. all of the book/magazine I used as references are from my personal library and thumbnail images are used to visually identify the books/magazine articles mentioned. The material may be available at your Public Library.

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