“I was scared to death. Miles didn’t say a word to me. Afterwards, I asked what he thought of my playing. He said, simply, ‘It was cool’”: T.M. Stevens on playing with Miles Davis and James Brown – and what went wrong on Vai’s Sex & Religion project

T.M. Stevens performs in concert at ACL Live on June 19, 2011 in Austin, Texas. Steve Vai performs for G3 project at Castello Sforzesco
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hailing from the Bronx in New York, the late T.M. Stevens recorded with some of the world’s most prestigious artists, from James Brown to Tina Turner. “I've had a strange career,” he told Bass Player back in 2010. “I don’t think it’s because I am a great bass player, it’s because I didn’t know how to say no to a gig!”

Inspired by the sounds of Motown, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, Stevens began playing bass guitar in after-hours clubs when he was 12. “I would get home at 7am, take a shower, and go to school!”

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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.