Paul Jackson, bassist of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, dies

He was 73 years old.

Paul Jackson, the bassist of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, has died. He was 73 years old.

The musician died on March 18 following sepsis brought on by complications of diabetes, the New York Times reported.

Jackson was known for his work as a founding member of The Headhunters alongside fellow virtuoso Herbie Hancock. The bassist’s death was initially announced by his bandmate and friend, Headhunters drummer Mike Clark, before a note was posted on Jackson’s website.


“I will miss you beyond any words that I can express but I will see you again and again and again,” Clark shared on Facebook. “God really did make you funky my brother… I remember everything we did and every word we said. Rest up, you are a warrior larger than life, a genius musician and innovator and a gentle giant in every way who loved people!”

As a sideman, Jackson performed with a number of internationally acclaimed artists, including Santana, the Pointer Sisters and Sonny Rollins. He was known for revolutionizing funk basslines with his unconventional playing style on the electric bass.

“He never liked to play the same bass line twice, so during improvised solos he responded to what the other guys played,” Hancock recounted of Jackson in his 2014 autobiography Possibilities. “I thought I’d hired a funk bassist, but as I found out later, he had actually started as an upright jazz bass player.”


Jackson passed away in Japan, where he had lived since 1985. During his time there, he founded the Jazz for Kids concert. The acclaimed initiative helped connect Japanese students with African-American history through music and was the focus of a government documentary.

RIP, Paul Jackson. Listen to his 2014 trio album with Xantoné Blacq and Tony Match, Groove or Die, below:

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