Bootsy Collins: “James Brown said, “Son, just slow down and give me The One”

American soul singer and songwriter James Brown (1933-2006) performs live on stage with the J.B.'s, including bass guitarist Bootsy Collins and guitarist Catfish Collins, in East Ham, London in March 1971
(Image credit: Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

Bootsy Collins’ other-worldly bass work with James Brown and Parliament/Funkadelic has guaranteed him a place among the world’s funk royalty. Having hit the ground running with Brown’s backing band in the early '70s, the JBs, Bootsy developed an intuitive understanding of how to groove, and in turn established the bass guitar as an instrument that was capable of driving the band and commanding the song, rather than merely supporting it. 

“The most important lesson I ever learnt was how to play ‘the one’, and I learnt that from James Brown," said Bootsy when I interviewed him for Bass Guitar magazine in 2010. 

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.