Michael Henderson

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For other people named Michael Henderson, see Michael Henderson (disambiguation).
Michael Henderson
Henderson singing at Sunset Junction Festival, Los Angeles, CA.,
Background information
Born United States
Genres R&B, jazz, funk, soul, pop
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, record producer, arranger
Instruments Vocals, bass, guitar, saxophone
Years active 1970–present
Labels Buddah Records, Arista, EMI-Capitol
Associated acts Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Ray Parker, Jr., Jean Carn, Norman Connors

Michael Henderson (born 1951)[1] is an American bass guitarist and vocalist best known for his bass playing with Miles Davis in the early 1970s, on early fusion albums such as A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Pangaea, and Live-Evil, as well as series of R&B/soul hits in the mid to late 1970s.


He was one of the first notable bass guitarists of the fusion era as well as being one of the most influential jazz and soul musicians of the past 40 years. In addition to Davis, he has played and recorded with Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, the Dramatics, Doctor John, among many others. He is considered to be one of the greatest bass guitarists based in Detroit, along with Bob Babbitt and his primary influence, James Jamerson.

Before working with Davis, Henderson had been touring with Stevie Wonder, whom he met at the Regal Theater in Chicago while warming up for a gig. Davis saw the young Henderson performing at the Copacabana in New York City in early 1970 and reportedly said to Wonder simply "I’m taking your fucking bassist."[2] After almost seven years with Davis, Henderson focused on songwriting and singing in a solo career that produced many hit songs and albums for Buddah Records until his retirement in 1986. Although known primarily for ballads, he was an influential funk player whose riffs and songs have been widely covered. His solo recordings have sold well over one million albums.[citation needed] A track titled "Wide Receiver" on an album of the same name is highly favored by breakdancers. The album, along with others, was reissued in 2015. He is also known for his ballad vocalizing on several Norman Connors hit recordings, including "You Are My Starship" and "Valentine Love", performed with Jean Carn.


Many of his bass riffs have been imitated by players seeking the fat, deep grooves of the Motown sound. His bass riffs, from such hits as "Valentine Love" and "You Are My Starship", have been sampled by the likes of Snoop Dogg and L.L. Cool J, and his songs have been sampled and/or covered by Jay-Z (American Gangster (album)), Eminem (for 8 Mile), and projects by Notorious BIG, Rick James, Wayman Tisdale and Sugar Ray, among others.[citation needed]

He currently lives in the US and plays shows intermittently, performing his solo material as well as that of other Motown and soul musicians. He has also played reunion concerts with other former members of the Davis electric bands.


As leader[edit]

With Miles Davis[edit]


  1. ^ McCall, Michael (1997). Erlewine, Michael; Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; et al., eds. "Michael Henderson". All Music Guide to Country: The Experts' Guide to the Best Recordings in Country Music. AMG All Music Guides (Hal Leonard Corporation): 88, 208. 0879304758. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Jung, Fred. "A Fireside Chat With Michael Henderson." www.allthatjazz.com, December 51, 2003. Retrieved April 28, 2014.

External links[edit]