“The whole track is driven by the bassline!” How “Ready” Freddie Washington conceived the dance-funk classic that later became a massive hit as Will Smith's Men In Black

Will Smith and Tommy Lee aiming their weapons in a scene from Men in Black. Freddie Washington performs at Bass Player Live.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At the dawn of the ‘80s, the first wave of Larry Graham-inspired would-be thumbslingers receded, leaving behind a number of iconic slap bass standards. Patrice Rushen’s Forget Me Nots being one of them. The song was co-written by veteran L.A. session bassist “Ready” Freddie Washington, who grew up in Graham’s native Oakland, California.

His mentor was another great Bay Area bassist, Paul Jackson, whom he eventually replaced in Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters in 1977. Rushen heard Washington while performing in San Francisco and brought him to Los Angeles in 1978, where he embarked on a hugely successful session career.

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Chris Jisi was Contributing Editor, Senior Contributing Editor, and Editor In Chief on Bass Player 1989-2018. He is the author of Brave New Bass, a compilation of interviews with bass players like Marcus Miller, Flea, Will Lee, Tony Levin, Jeff Berlin, Les Claypool and more, and The Fretless Bass, with insight from over 25 masters including Tony Levin, Marcus Miller, Gary Willis, Richard Bona, Jimmy Haslip, and Percy Jones.