James Jamerson’s Fender Precision achieves $69,000

A 1961 Fender Precision bass guitar belonging to session player James Jamerson (1936-1983) was the big hit of Heritage Auctions’ Entertainment sale over the weekend.

It realised $68,750.

You might not know Jamerson’s name but you’ll almost certainly have heard his playing. 

James Jamerson bass

Jamerson's groundbreaking style of playing changed the way the bass was used in popular music

He provided the backing for a vast swathe of the Motown catalogue, including the Temptations’ My Girl, I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Gladys Knight & The Pips and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

His rhythmically complex style of playing proved a major influence on popular music.

Fellow bassist Paul McCartney said of him: "As time went on, James Jamerson became my hero...because he was so good and melodic."

Jamerson owned this bass between 1962 and 1968, when he gave it to his friend Billy Hayes – another Detroit bassist.

Hayes explained: “Somewhere around 1967 or 1968, I don't recall specifically, I had a gig but no instrument…

“I mentioned it to James and he offered to help. He said he had a bass I could borrow…

“He never asked for it back and I continued to use it for years with his blessing.”

A cutout of actor Tony Curtis from the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper realised $57,500.

Sixty-one cultural figures were chosen for the record’s legendary cover photograph. Curtis appears just above Oscar Wilde in the finished design.

You can check out all our Beatles memorabilia for sale here.

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