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Michael Henderson born in Yazoo Citymarker, Mississippimarker is a bass guitarist and vocalist best known for his work with Miles Davis in the early 1970s, providing a deep funky groove to early fusion albums such as A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Pangaea, and Live-Evil. He was the only musician to play with Miles in both phases of his electric period, starting in 1970 at the age of 18 and continuing until Miles's semi-retirement in 1976. Henderson is the vocalist on Norman Connors' 1976 ballad "You Are My Starship".


With deep, funky grooves and a pop sensibility, he was one of the first notable bassists 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 Miles, he has played and recorded with Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, the Dramatics, Doctor John, and others. He is considered to be one of the three greatest Motown bass guitarists, along with Bob Babbitt and his primary influence, James Jamerson.

Before working with Miles, Henderson had been touring with Stevie Wonder, whom he met at the Regal Theater in Chicago while warming up for a gig. Miles Davis saw the young Henderson performing at the Copacabana in New York in early 1970 and reportedly said to Wonder simply "I'm takin' your fuckin' bass player."

After almost seven years with Miles, Henderson focused on songwriting and singing in a solo career that produced multiple hit songs and albums for Arista 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. To date his solo recordings have sold well over one million albums. He did however have a track titled "Wide Receiver" which is highly favored by breakdancers. The song was on an album of the same title which is now out of print; but a compilation titled The best of Michael Henderson made up for that discontinuation since it also features the Wide Receiver song.

In recent years, he has experienced a resurgence in popularity as 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 ), Eminem (for 8 Mile), Notorious BIG, Rick James, Wayman Tisdale, and Sugar Ray, among others. However, it is surprising that the popular breakdancing number Wide Receiver has never been sampled by any hip hop musician.

He currently lives in Las Vegas 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 Miles electric bands.


As leader

  • 1976: Solid (Buddah)
  • 1977: Goin' Places (Buddah)
  • 1978: In the Night Time (Buddah)
  • 1979: Do It All (Buddah)
  • 1980: Wide Receiver (Buddah)
  • 1981: Slingshot (Buddah)
  • 1983: Fickel (Buddah)
  • 1986: Bedtime Stores (EMI Records)

As sideman

With Miles Davis


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