The Motown sound was largely defined by a modest 13-member house band that worked with such stars as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and many others.
They were called the Funk Brothers, and they included Edisto Island native James Jamerson on bass. The Funk Brothers are getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today. The commemorative star will be positioned next to the stars of Dizzy Gillespie (another South Carolina native), Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock.
Accepting the star will be the surviving Funk Brothers Jack Ashford, Joe Messina and Eddie Willis, according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which awards Walk of Fame stars.
“We are happy to honor The Funk Brothers on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” chamber president and CEO Leron Gubler said in a statement. “Many of us grew up with their amazing hit songs which they performed with some of the biggest stars of Motown.”
This will be the 2,493rd star in the recording category. Jamerson, who died in 1983, was a largely unacknowledged but seminal bass player who helped define the Motown sound, and thus the sound of popular American music in general. He played on nearly 30 No. 1 pop hits and nearly 70 No. 1 R&B songs.
He and his fellow musicians worked in a Detroit basement studio called the “snake pit” at Hitsville USA, under contract with Motown Records. They were often paid only $10 per song, according to a news release from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Jamerson gained some attention when the PBS show “History Detectives” tried to verify that a battered Ampeg B-15 amplifier with the name “James Jamerson” stenciled on its side was indeed that of the famed bassist.
Jamerson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
For more information on the Hollywood honor, visit walkoffame.com