The Funk Brothers Biography

The most successful group of studio musicians

Biography

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Bassline


The Funk Brothers

Motown’s house band didn’t have an official name. Most of the time, they weren’t even credited on the albums.

When they performed with their bandleader, they went under the name Earl Van Dyke & the Soul Brothers. Apparently, Berry Gordy didn’t like the name Funk.

Made up of a core of fifteen studio musicians, they did, however, play on more #1 hits than The Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys put together.

The Funk Brothers were active during 1959 and 1972, when Motown moved from Detroit to Los Angeles.

Perhaps the greatest musician in the Funk Brothers was their bass player James Jamerson. His intricate bass lines are incredible melodies, many times more elaborate than the vocal melody.

A great example of Jamerson’s genius can be found in his ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ bass line. Above is a video demonstrating this clearly using a visual representation.

It would be silly to list all the songs they played on, as you can see above, Spytunes has recorded six of their songs, making them the most covered band on Spytunes!

The 2002 documentary ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown‘ was the first time they got any real recognition. It’s a great insight into the brutal life of a musician in the 60s.

For example, their farewell gift in 1972 came in the form of a note on the door simply stating “No work today”.


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