“I really liked the concept, but it was a bit impractical. My bass playing tends to rely more on my hands than any kind of trick”: Listen to Paul Jackson’s double-stop funk on Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man

Legendary pianist and keyboardist Herbie Hancock performs 2 tracks from his 1973 album "Head Hunters" on Soul Train episode 110, aired 9/28/1974. Directly behind Herbie in a red shirt is jazz bassist Paul Jackson.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Along with Weather Report's Birdland, Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, and Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, one of the most mesmerizing bass guitar riffs of the 1970s is that of Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man from his 1973 album Head Hunters.

Penned by Hancock, Watermelon Man first became a hit when Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria released his Latinized take of the tune in 1962, igniting the boogaloo craze of the 1960s. When Hancock recorded a grooving bop version for his own solo debut, Takin’ Off, he called on bassist Butch Warren to hold down the sparse groove, a 16-bar blues in F.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

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.