Paul Jackson (bassist)

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Paul Jackson
Born(1947-03-28)March 28, 1947
Oakland, California, U.S.
DiedMarch 18, 2021(2021-03-18) (aged 73)
GenresJazz, jazz-funk, jazz fusion, funk
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Instrument(s)Bass guitar
WebsiteOfficial website

Paul Jerome Jackson Jr. (March 28, 1947 – March 18, 2021) was an American jazz electric bassist and composer. He was a founding member of the Headhunters and played on several of Herbie Hancock's albums, including Head Hunters and Thrust. Jackson subsequently moved to Japan and started a voluntary concert called Jazz for Kids, with the intent of familiarizing students there with African-American history.

Early life[edit]

Jackson was born in Oakland, California, on March 28, 1947. He was one of four children of Paul Sr. and Rosa Emanuel. His father was initially a heavyweight boxer, who subsequently worked as a contractor and was occasionally employed as a security guard at music venues.[1] Jackson played piano and bassoon as a child, in addition to his primary instrument of bass,[2] which he started playing when he was nine years old. At the age of 14, he performed with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and went on to study at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.[3]


Jackson was a founding member of the Headhunters.[3] The group was established in 1973 by Herbie Hancock, and also featured Bennie Maupin on saxophone and clarinet, Harvey Mason on drums, and Bill Summers playing percussion. Their first album, self-titled Head Hunters, was released that same year.[4] It became the best-selling jazz album of all time when it was released,[2] selling over a million copies[4] (the first jazz album to do so)[1] and peaking to number 13 on the Billboard 200 chart.[1][2] Jackson co-wrote "Chameleon", the album's lead track that later became a jazz standard. He subsequently played on Thrust (1974), Man-Child (1975), the live album Flood (1975) and Secrets (1976). Another two albums were released by the group, but were performed and recorded without Hancock: Survival of the Fittest (1975) and Straight from the Gate (1977). In the former, Jackson co-wrote "God Make Me Funky" and sang its lead vocals.[2] He went on to release his first solo album, Black Octopus, in 1978. It featured his bandmates Hancock and Maupin.[4]

Later life[edit]

Jackson resided in Japan from 1985 until his death.[2] There, he became involved in its music scene. He wrote and arranged music for television advertisements and movies. He also performed with local artists such as Char, Tsutomu Yamashita, and Sadao Watanabe. Jackson established Jazz for Kids in 1987; this was a voluntary concert performed in schools around the country with the goal of familiarizing students with African-American history via music and presentation. He visited over 80 schools for this endeavor, and a documentary was produced by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology covering his band.[3]

Jackson released his second solo album, Funk on a Stick, in 2005. Nine years later, he collaborated with Xantoné Blacq and Tony Match – under the moniker "Paul Jackson Trio" – to release Groove or Die.[4] Jackson stopped touring in 2016 due to unspecified health concerns.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Jackson's first marriage ended in divorce. He had one son from that marriage, LaFura Eguchi Jackson, who was born in 1975 and died of cancer in 2000. Jackson's second marriage was to Akiko Suzuki. They remained married until his death.[1]

Jackson died on March 18, 2021, at a hospital near Tokyo, Japan.[2][4] He was ten days short of his 74th birthday; he suffered from sepsis caused by complications from diabetes prior to his death.[1]


As leader[edit]

  • Black Octopus (Eastworld, 1978)[6]
  • The Funk Stops Here with Mike Clark (Tiptoe, 1992)[6]
  • Conjunction with Mike Clark (Buckyball, 2001)[6]
  • Funk on a Stick (Back Door, 2005)[6]
  • Groove or Die (Whirlwind, 2014)[6]

As sideman[edit]

With Herbie Hancock

With the Headhunters

With others


  • Jazz Times, Volume 37, Issues 1-5. 2007 p. 297
  • Yanow, Scott. Jazz: A Regional Exploration. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, p. 231. ISBN 0-313-32871-4


  1. ^ a b c d e Russonello, Giovanni (March 23, 2021). "Paul Jackson, Funk Bassist With Herbie Hancock, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Farberman, Brad (March 19, 2021). "Paul Jackson, Headhunters Bassist Who Played With Herbie Hancock, Dies At 73". NPR. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Paul Jackson". Whirlwind Recordings. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bloom, Madison (March 19, 2021). "Paul Jackson, Jazz Bassist Who Played With Herbie Hancock, Dies at 73". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  5. ^ Rugoff, Lazlo (March 22, 2021). "Jazz bassist and Headhunters founding member Paul Jackson has died". The Vinyl Factory. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Paul Jackson – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  7. ^ "Death Wish (1974)". Library of Congress. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  8. ^ "Sunlight". Herbie Hancock. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  9. ^ May, Chris (April 8, 2018). "Kimoko Kasai with Herbie Hancock: Butterfly". All About Jazz. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  10. ^ "Discography". Herbie Hancock. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  11. ^ "Steppin': The Pointer Sisters – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 22, 2021.

External links[edit]