The Tor Guides

The clash of the titans – Kaye vs Jamerson

In Okategoriserade on 4 October, 2010 at 15:08


Only some ten years ago, I learned the fantastic story of bass woman Carol Kaye and her astounding career as t h e bass player of the 60s. She was of course an integral part of Phil Spector´s Wrecking Crew and took part in most of the classic recordings by and The Beach Boys, including Pet Sounds and the Smile sessions.

Initially a jazz guitar player, she changed her instrument to the Fender bass which she played with a pick as opposed to the then more common finger playing.

Late one evening and much to my and my wife´s surprise, I received a long e-mail from Mrs Kaye, regarding some requested information on her possible participation on one of my favourite Phil Spector recordings, namely The Ronettes´ fantastic Walking in the Rain. If I remember correctly, she could not then fully recall whether she actually played the 12 string guitar on that particular song, something I found amazing – up until that moment I had guessed that everyone that was ever close to a recording of such magnitude would never forget about it – and the other way around.

Anyway, I also came to read her recollections on Motown´s supposed Californian division, where some of the great Detroit music is said to have been recorded. The ground rocking thought itself, that Motown classics may have been recorded in sunny California, was almost too much to bear. Still, she claimed that she and her fellow Californian crew had recorded such Detroit classics as Bernadette, Reach Out, Baby Love, I Was Made to Love Her, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Dancing In The Streets, Can’t Help Myself“, and dozens of others Motown classics!

My knowledge of Mrs Kaye´s allegations coincided with the resurrection of the old Motown musical crew, the Funk Brothers,  through the great movie Standing in The Shadows of Motown, where some of the key Motown players reminisce their past. Sadly one of the most revered Funk brother had already died when the movie was made, namely the musician´s musician bass man James Jamerson.

Now we have, on the one side, a great bass giant and her claims and, on the other,  the whole of the Detroit Motown crew contesting her claims as ridiculous. And there is but one truth.

The discussions regarding the allegations have been vivid in the music press ever since they became public. The dispute is of course spiced up with other interests than just finding out the truth – which one shall be forever deemed the fabulous bass player on all those hot recordings? And what about  Motown´s Detroit heritage – is it just a media thing?

What evidence is there to guide us? On the one hand we have Mrs Kaye´s diary and her statements, on the other hand we have affidavits of Brian Holland and Henry Cosby who both state that Jamerson was indeed the bassist on those tracks,  Brian Holland of course being a member of the Holland Dozier Holland team who wrote and produced the songs in question.

Anyway, it seems as though the musician´s community has passed its verdict. In 2000, Jamerson was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, part of the first-ever group of sidemen to be so honored, and in 2004, the Funk Brothers were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The dispute most certainly will go on.

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