There's so much myth and mystery around the brilliant Motown bassist James Jamerson that it's sometimes hard to know who he really was. Thankfully though we have his amazing basslines to listen to, and for many bass players these recordings are a sort of sacred archive, the beginnings of modern bass playing and the creative output of a musical genius.
Before Jamerson almost all bassists would just play a simple root-fifth pattern or walking line. The bass player was basically there to keep time and outline the melody, and usually nothing more. James Jamerson changed all that and he did over a relative short period while working for Motown Records.