Bassist Anthony Jackson stands as one of the masters of the instrument. The ubiquitous sideman’s exhaustive discography spans many genres’ of music. An academician, his tenacious research into the origins of the bass, lead to the invention of the six string contrabass, a couple of decades before five string basses became popular.
He also has the distinction of co-writing with Gamble & Huff, The O’Jays’ million selling single “For The Love Of Money” from their platinum album “Ship Ahoy”. Jackson’s dynamic, flanged, plucked bassline on the single set a precedent among four string axe players.
Born on June 23, 1952, in New York City, Jackson began learning the piano as a teen before switching to the guitar. Like many, Jackson picked up the bass after being influenced by legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson. Years later, he contributed to Allan “Dr. Licks” Slutsky’s classic book/CD set “Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson”.
At 18, he became a session musician and after becoming a member of Billy Paul’s band, he started working with Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. One day during the fall of 1973, keyboardist Leon Huff was leading the members of the MFSB rhythm section and Jackson through a rehearsal of “For The Love Of Money”, Sigma Sound Studios owner/engineer Joe Tarsia noticed that Jackson had a wah wah pedal attached to his Fender Precision bass. Tarsia decided to run Jackson’s bassline through a phaser, giving it a swishing sound and later mixed in echo. During the final mixing of the track, Kenny Gamble impulsively reached over to the echo button and added echo to Jackson’s opening riffs. “For The Love Of Money” went to number three R&B and number nine pop in the spring of 1974. Radio stations gladly played the over seven minutes long album version.
Jackson became an in-demand musician for both live and recording sets, working with Roberta Flack, Buddy Rich, Michael Urbaniak, Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, Leon Pendarvis, Paul Simon, Chaka Khan (Naughty, What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me), Steely Dan (Gaucho-“My Rival”, “Glamour Profession”) and (Donald Fagen (The Nightfly-“I.G.Y What A Beautiful World”, “Ruby Baby”) and others. – Ed Hogan