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  1. #1

    Smokey pays Tribute to James Jamerson

    I recently was on the Malt Shop Cruise where Smokey performed , and I got the ask him a question about the great James Jamerson. Enjoy my fellow Soulful Detroit friends.


  2. #2
    Great reflection of the early England tour by Smokey!

  3. #3
    James Jamerson sounds doo woop great on The Supremes "Never Again". Great harmonies
    by The Supremes. I believe this song was recorded in Mono, which to me, highlights the bass.

    The voices of Flo, Mary and Diana as lead singer blend so well on this song.

    Was ''Jamerson '' his birth last name or a nickname?

  4. #4
    James Jamerson Jr was his birthname. Actually, his son, James (RIP) who was known as James Jamerson Jr was ACTUALLY James Jamerson lll...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    717
    I do not believe Smokeys story.

    Quote Originally Posted by tmd View Post
    I recently was on the Malt Shop Cruise where Smokey performed , and I got the ask him a question about the great James Jamerson. Enjoy my fellow Soulful Detroit friends.


  6. #6
    No Smokey over doing it I'm afraid.
    No Temptations, no Marvin Gaye, no Jr walker or Stevie Wonder on that flight.
    The point is ...it's a way of giving Jamerson his dues.
    But, as is often the case, never let the truth get in the way if a good story.
    The story that everybody in the UK knew Jamerson..please!!
    About 50 members of the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society who were 'Motown aware'...that's it I'm afraid.

  7. #7
    Actually, it was widely known that when the review landed in England, there was a devout James Jamerson fan club carrying signs who met the plane. Jack Ashford spoke about it in the SITSOM film.

  8. #8
    Sorry but again it's an over exageration.
    The TM appreciation society greeted the tour at the airport.
    The TMAS was run by Dave Godin, who's promotion and meetings with Berry Gordy led to the tour to launch the TM label in the UK.
    About 50 TMAS met the plane.
    They were clued up as to Motown artists and musicians via the TMAS newsletters.
    They no doubt asked about Jamerson and Benny Benjamin.
    But to claim there was a JJ fan club is over stating the case. Nice story..
    But like a snowball rolling down the side of a snow covered hill...it's growing

  9. #9
    It was called the "James Jamerson Appreciation Society" and actually DID exist in the U.K...I've personally spoken to people ON that tour about this...Keep in mind that Tamla as a label didnlt even exist in the U.K prior to 1965 and the entire purpose of that tour was to expand Motown's presence outside the U.S. beginning in the U.K. Most Motown artists weren't all that well known and the Four Tops were the most recognized group there. Outside London, the tour had trouble filling half the seats in the venues and was a commercial disaster...The U.K. musicians and groups like the Beatles and Stones and their covers of Motown records were the most familiar ties to Motown by U.K. fans and those musicians idolized Jamerson and Benny and copied their style, thus, the formation of those fan clubs for the Motown musicians inspired by the admiration of the U.K. musicians and groups who were studying and copying the Motown (Funk Brothers) unique sound with the heavy backbeats, the unfamiliar hot tambourine that fascinated them, and Jamerson's new and unique innovative style of bass that was being imitated by bassists throughout the U.K. music scene... While Motown obviously featured the groups that had begun to achieve great popularity here in the U.S on that tour since they were the headliners...many U.K. music aficionado's knew of Motown through the sound of its musicians like Jamerson...As Jack Ashford I believe stated in the SITSOM film...Jamerson was so popular there...many of the other musicians wanted to pass themselves off as Jamerson since he wasn't even on that tour as Jamerson fans with signs began showing up... There is obviously a lot of hyperbole relating to a LOT of the Motown stories and fables we hear today...but the fact that Jamersons name was much more recognized in the U.K than Gladys Horton, Pete Moore, Melvin Franklin, or most of the other Motown group members and many artists is hardly surprising...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 12-30-2019 at 03:30 PM.

  10. #10
    I don't doubt that amongst groups and musicians knew about JJ and were intetested in Motown's recording techniques. But I can assure you that JJ was not a name known to the general public or pop music fans at all.
    A small group of TMAS were there to meet the plane. Again, their interest , Knowledge and support for the Motown.set up must have been overwhelming to these artists.
    .but it was no Beatles invasion I can assure you. The point here is that Smokey Robinson claims that there was a stampede in the cause of finding Jamerson is total nonsense.
    None of this is any critiscism of JJ....
    It's just pointing out that this story is exagerated to make a general point..that a hard core group of UK Motown fans were aware of Motown's and JJ's influence.
    Last edited by snakepit; 12-30-2019 at 04:10 PM.

  11. #11
    As I said...Motown stories are chock full of exaggeration, however, Jamerson had a devoted group of serious devotees in the U.K. that did show up at the 65 Motown Review sites and the airport to greet them. This is documented by not only Smokey but Jack Ashford and others who were actually there...As for "exaggeration...the idea that the 65 tour was a huge success is itself a gross exaggeration as most of the U.K. venues on that tour sat half empty...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 12-30-2019 at 03:45 PM.

  12. #12
    Stu
    I've been to countless sporting dinners were the main speaker, playing to an adoring crowd, claim sporting acts and achievements that make a great crowd pleasing story but when compared to the actual events , just never happened. The story is exagerated to make a general point.

    In this case, a handful of Motown hard core fans greeted the tour. There were clearly a handful who made their knowledge of JJ clear.
    This clearly impressed the Motown artists and musicians.
    But this has built up into a story that there was such a JJ fan club that all the artists were virtually ignored.
    As for.being there, Smokey tells us that Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Jr. Walker ., Temptations were there...well, they were not. It makes is sound so much more interesting but like the sportsman's stories...embellishment.

  13. #13
    I've seen photographs of the welcoming banners that greeted the artists.

    I can't recall all the details...but I'd be happy to believe that a banner referred to James Jamerson. If such a.banner existed, I would imagine that THIS is what Jack Ashford refers to. Other UK musicians may have mentioned JJ to him.
    However, a handful of Motown TMAS members would have arranged for their manufacture.
    I collected a lot of Motown memrobillia over the years, particularly UK. I never saw any JJ fan club documents...if they existed , it was a small group who were in it.
    This is in no way a putdown but this "JJ mania" is not true. A hardcore of knowlegeable clued up Motown fans and musicians
    BTW I'd love to know how many of these pop group members were in this "JJ fan " club
    Last edited by snakepit; 12-30-2019 at 04:09 PM.

  14. #14
    The 1965 tour was a.commercial disaster...theatres outside London were empty.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    The 1965 tour was a.commercial disaster...theatres outside London were empty.
    Gotcha and agree that many stories from back in that day were greatly exaggerated. While I attended the 1968 Tigers famous World Series game 5...about 2 million other people also claim they were there in that 55,000 seat stadium...And Motown fans across the U.K also reportedly claim they attended 1965 Motown Review performances which as you suggest, we know didn't happen like that... I have personally seen photographs of the alleged Jamerson signs and I believe Smokey was likely speaking more in context, so when he talks about being run over by fans looking for Jamerson, he could have knowingly, or unknowingly embellished the situation, and even conflated events from the airport with events at the actual venues. It was after all over 50 years ago...but the actual idea of Jamerson getting more recognition on that tour than individual artists at SOME locations has been personally told to me by as I said...more than one person on that tour which included among others Jack, Tony Newton (who filled Jamersons usual role while James remained studio bound in Detroit), Robert White, Earl, Uriel (I believe) and others...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 12-30-2019 at 04:31 PM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by tmd View Post
    I recently was on the Malt Shop Cruise where Smokey performed , and I got the ask him a question about the great James Jamerson. Enjoy my fellow Soulful Detroit friends.

    That was great and thank you very much for sharing it.

  17. #17
    I'm sure I was at that that Tigers game ��

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Gotcha and agree that many stories from back in that day were greatly exaggerated. While I attended the 1968 Tigers famous World Series game 5...about 2 million other people also claim they were there in that 55,000 seat stadium...And Motown fans across the U.K also reportedly claim they attended 1965 Motown Review performances which as you suggest, we know didn't happen like that... I have personally seen photographs of the alleged Jamerson signs and I believe Smokey was likely speaking more in context, so when he talks about being run over by fans looking for Jamerson, he could have knowingly, or unknowingly embellished the situation, and even conflated events from the airport with events at the actual venues. It was after all over 50 years ago...but the actual idea of Jamerson getting more recognition on that tour than individual artists at SOME locations has been personally told to me by as I said...more than one person on that tour which included among others Jack, Tony Newton (who filled Jamersons usual role while James remained studio bound in Detroit), Robert White, Earl, Uriel (I believe) and others...
    We watched the '68 Series on TV.

  19. #19

    Agree with all

    No doubt a major embellishment, but the point is that Smokey acknowledges the greatness of J.J. , loved how he ends the conversation with "and that is who James Jamerson is"

    Thought you all would get a kick out of it, especially Stubass, who is the man when it comes to J.J.

  20. #20
    Yes that is the message indeed.

  21. #21
    Yup...through the years and with the stark reminder from the SITSOM book and film, all the Motown producers, fans, and artists, realized the importance and impact of Jamerson and all the musicians to the success of the Motown brand..

  22. #22
    It's also reported that Smokey Robinson has said the Motown Sound had little to do with Detroit:

    "People would listen to it, and they'd say, 'Aha, they use more bass. Or they use more drums.' Bullshit. When we were first successful with it, people were coming from Germany, France, Italy, Mobile, Alabama. From New York, Chicago, California. From everywhere. Just to record in Detroit. They figured it was in the air, that if they came to Detroit and recorded on the freeway, they'd get the Motown sound. Listen, the Motown sound to me is not an audible sound. It's spiritual, and it comes from the people that make it happen. What other people didn't realize is that we just had one studio there, but we recorded in Chicago, Nashville, New York, L.A.—almost every big city. And we still got the sound."

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    It's also reported that Smokey Robinson has said the Motown Sound had little to do with Detroit:

    "People would listen to it, and they'd say, 'Aha, they use more bass. Or they use more drums.' Bullshit. When we were first successful with it, people were coming from Germany, France, Italy, Mobile, Alabama. From New York, Chicago, California. From everywhere. Just to record in Detroit. They figured it was in the air, that if they came to Detroit and recorded on the freeway, they'd get the Motown sound. Listen, the Motown sound to me is not an audible sound. It's spiritual, and it comes from the people that make it happen. What other people didn't realize is that we just had one studio there, but we recorded in Chicago, Nashville, New York, L.A.—almost every big city. And we still got the sound."
    Not familiar with that particular quote, however, Smokey has also said just the opposite on many occasions, referring to the talent developed in Detroit as the mainstay of the Motown Sound...and in fact on the recent Showtime Special Smokey states that he did not want to leave Detroit fearful that the label would lose it's mojo and it's sound in Los Angeles... The Funk Brothers, virtually all journeymen jazz musicians at the clubs in and around Detroit were the heartbeat of the Motown sound and brought what they were doing in Detroit jazz clubs into Studio A as well as most of Motowns early marquee songwriters, producers, engineers, and artists. It's true that some tracks were cut outside Detroit, mainly in Los Angeles where Berry Gordy was trying to gain a foothold in the television and film industries and opened offices in the mid-60's before his final move there in 1973, however, those tracks were generally shipped back to Detroit for vocals or more often those tracks used as re-cuts for Motown artist when they appeared on national television shows originating in L.A. That likely where Carol Kaye got the impression she played on such tracks as I Was Made To Love Her and Bernadette, etc... She may have, but the tracks she played on were NOT the tracks used for the record releases... The bulk of the studio work during Motown's heyday and growth period were overwhelmingly cut in Studio A on West Grand Blvd...'
    Last edited by StuBass1; 01-01-2020 at 07:48 PM.

  24. #24
    Again Smokey speaking in general terms.
    The early days had Berry recording in Chicago for string arrangements and Smokey will recall those days very well.
    But Detroit was where it was it .

  25. #25
    Very enjoyable exchange to read Stu and Snake

    You always have great posts Stu

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Very enjoyable exchange to read Stu and Snake

    You always have great posts Stu
    Hopefully enlightening and thought provoking for all..

  27. #27
    To add some meat to the bones of this thread, a brief description of the TMAS below.

    https://www.thehorsehospital.com/arc...ty-bexleyheath

  28. #28
    This is a piece from an actual TMAS member.
    It gives an insight into the leader and driving force of the TMAS...Dave Godin.
    From this article, I think you can gauge where the TMAS support derived from.
    Godin was a champion of "underdogs" , and he railed against the pop music establishment.
    I would hazard a guess that Godin and a few trusty companions led the TMAS and the other members followed but perhaps with a reduced knowledge of the detail Godin brought.
    Often hailed as the creator of the term "Northern Soul" ( others in his circle claim the they invented it), it was his mention of "NS" in his Blues and Soul column that led to the previously named "rare soul" finding a "home". Tellingly, when NS became 'popular" i.e. the mainstream media showed an interest, Godin left the music scene (in the main) and and took up championing Avant Garde Cinema.
    See link below
    Last edited by snakepit; 01-03-2020 at 03:18 PM.

  29. #29

  30. #30

  31. #31
    https://recordcollectormag.com/artic...-the-beginning

    This is interesting...actually naming some of the 'key' players in TMAS. Many where well known to Motown fans in later years,
    I wonder who was the driver for JJ?

  32. #32
    Nice links Snake Pit, keep them coming.

  33. #33

  34. #34

  35. #35

  36. #36
    Look down to about the 11th paragraph on this page where the "large fan base" in those days for the Motown musicians, James and Earl in particular is highlighted as the emerging British invasion sound that had firmly taken root was taking the concepts created by James and including it in their own style...https://books.google.com/books?id=52...e%20uk&f=false
    Last edited by StuBass1; 01-04-2020 at 01:36 PM.

  37. #37

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Great tribute...During the early 60's....it was the guys like JPJ, Entwistle, McCartney, Bruce, Wood,etc who were all learning from Jamerson and singing his praises...

  39. #39
    Surely they were listening to tracks by The Strides and Gwen Owens?

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Surely they were listening to tracks by The Strides and Gwen Owens?
    LOL... I doubt that and never heard any of my licks on Beatles or WHO tracks......but if I'm in London anytime soon, I'll be happy to try to find my fan club...

  41. #41
    I liked the line that states Northern Soul is artist playing the Motown sound

  42. #42
    Hi TMD
    It's a bit of a minefield to describe NS.
    But a lot of the records played were indeed small labels trying to copy the Motown Sound, or a least appeal to that market.

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Hi TMD
    It's a bit of a minefield to describe NS.
    But a lot of the records played were indeed small labels trying to copy the Motown Sound, or a least appeal to that market.
    Detroit in the 60's was a beehive of activity with recording studios almost literally popping up on every corner...one of which that I participated in you alluded to , plus a couple of others I was involved with...ALL trying to catch that lightning in a bottle that they believed Berry Gordy found and evolved to international acclaim... Other cities too got in on the action and the Northern Soul movement was largely based on much of that lesser know material...Most of it was more like Motowns very early day without the highly polished productions, slick arrangements, and the great musicians around Detroit looking for work and finding it at Motown. OUR sessions were usually planned down to the minute to save on studio costs. We even used to rehearse setting up our equipment and tearing it down since the studio was charged for all the studio time we used, including preparation...Some of the small studio stuff was good and led to some artists, songwriters, and producers moving on to bigger labels, and some just stood on it's own. Obviously as you say...much of it was based on trying to duplicate a version of the Motown sound and some was a bit more experimental... All I all...an interesting time to be in and around Detroit and the music scene...the clubs and venues we all used to perform at...

  44. #44
    Yes it must have been a terrific time.
    The pre- NS era, discotheques in the mid 60s MOD era, played a mixture of R&B music...Motown, Stax, Atlantic and many other styles.
    The Twisted Wheel had a varied playlist, early R&B .
    Towards the end (1971), the discs preferred by punters were Motown-esq uptempo ( although by then Motown was not being played as the scene looked for "newer" sounds
    .not as in new sounds, but new as in previously unknown to dancers.
    After The Wheel closed, DJs had realized that they could visit the USA and bring over 100s of rare, unheard 45s and the early 70s period lent towards the smaller Motown-esq sounds. Detroit, Chicago, Philly, LA etc.
    By the early 80s, after exhausting the uptempo style, mid tempo early 60s 45s became the trend.

  45. #45
    Ian Melia posts a lot of those discs on his FB site...

  46. #46
    Stubass

    Looks like you got to live it, man oh man, lucky guy

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