Doug Watkins

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Doug Watkins
Doug Watkins [date unknown]
Doug Watkins [date unknown]
Background information
Born(1934-03-02)March 2, 1934
Detroit, Michigan, United States
DiedFebruary 5, 1962(1962-02-05) (aged 27)
near Holbrook, Arizona
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Instrument(s)Double bass, cello
Years active1950–1962
LabelsBlue Note, Prestige, Atlantic

Douglas Watkins (March 2, 1934 – February 5, 1962) was an American jazz double bassist.[1] He was best known for being an accompanist to various hard bop artists in the Detroit area, including Donald Byrd and Jackie McLean.[2]


Watkins was born in Detroit, Michigan, United States.[1] An original member of the Jazz Messengers, he later played in Horace Silver's quintet[3] and freelanced with Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, Art Farmer, Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley,[3] Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, and Phil Woods among others.[4]

Some of Watkins' best-known work can be heard, when as a 22-year-old, he appeared on the 1956 album Saxophone Colossus by tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, with Max Roach and Tommy Flanagan.[1]

According to Horace Silver's autobiography, Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty, Watkins, along with Silver, later left Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers because the other members of the band at the time (Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley and Blakey) had serious drug problems, whereas Watkins and Silver were tired of being harassed and searched by the police every time they went to a gig in a new city and club.[5]

When Charles Mingus briefly ventured over to the piano stool in 1961, he hired Watkins to take over the bass part; Oh Yeah and Tonight at Noon were the results.[1]

Watkins recorded only two albums as leader: Watkins at Large for Transition; and Soulnik for New Jazz.[4] The latter, recorded in 1960, with Yusef Lateef, features Watkins on cello with Herman Wright backing him on bass.[6] The cello was an instrument he had started to play only a few days before the recording session.[6]

Watkins died in an automobile accident near Holbrook, Arizona, on February 5, 1962,[7] while traveling from Arizona to San Francisco to meet drummer Philly Joe Jones for a gig.[1]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Pepper Adams

With Gene Ammons

With Art Blakey

With Tina Brooks

With Kenny Burrell

With Donald Byrd

With John Coltrane

  • Dakar (Prestige, 1957 [1963])

With Tommy Flanagan

With Curtis Fuller

With Red Garland

With Benny Golson

With Bill Hardman

With Wilbur Harden

With Thad Jones

With Yusef Lateef

With Jackie McLean

With Charles Mingus

With Hank Mobley

With Lee Morgan

With The Prestige All Stars

With Paul Quinichette

With Dizzy Reece

With Rita Reys

With Sonny Rollins

With Horace Silver

With Louis Smith

With Idrees Sulieman

  • Roots (New Jazz, 1958) with the Prestige All Stars

With Billy Taylor

With Phil Woods


  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 479. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
  2. ^ "Doug Watkins | Artists". Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  3. ^ a b "Doug Watkins: The Hard Bop Homepage". Retrieved 2019-10-29.
  4. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Doug Watkins". AllMusic. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  5. ^ Silver, Horace (1 August 2007). Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520253926.
  6. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 1470. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  7. ^ Rhyan, Dianna (2003). "Watkins, Doug(las)". Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0. Retrieved October 26, 2020.