Revered soul frontman, songwriter and bassist Michael Henderson died yesterday (19) at the age of 71. He had been admitted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta two weeks ago for an undisclosed illness.
His Facebook page carried the following message: “Singer, Songwriter, Bass Innovator, Music Producer, Father and Son Michael Henderson has peacefully made his transition surrounded by family and loved ones today at his home, Atlanta Georgia… Bless his heart and soul… He touched the lives of many and returned that love through his many live concerts, music recordings, social media, interviews and incessant touring which he loved…”
‘Our bass brother’
Fellow bassist and soul-funk notable Bootsy Collins wrote on his social media accounts: “Dangit, we lost one of the Real One’s our Bass brother Mr. Michael Henderson (July 7, 1951-July 19,2022) was an American bass guitarist and vocalist. He was known for his work with Miles Davis, Dramatic’s, Stevie Wonder & many others. Prayers going out to his family & friends!”
Marshall Thompson of soul and pop hitmakers the Chi-Lites added: “Another sad note my good friend Michael Henderson, has Pass R.I.P a great entertainer that traveled all around the world with The Chi-Lites and Aretha Franklin for many many years, He will be miss [sic].”
Henderson was well known for his bass playing on several Miles Davis albums, and for his memorable vocal on Norman Connors’ Top 10 soul ballads “Valentine Love” (in 1975, with Jean Carn) and the 1976 Top 5 US R&B single “You Are My Starship.” He then made series of successful solo records that produced such hits as “Take Me I’m Yours” and “Wide Receiver.”
Admired by Stevie and Miles
Born in Yazoo City, Mississippi on July 7, 1951 and raised in Detroit, his dexterity on the bass brought him to the early attention of Stevie Wonder, with whom he toured, appearing on Stevie’s 1970 UK album Live at the Talk of the Town, released in the US in 2005. This is turn won the respect of Davis, for whom he played bass on such jazz fusion albums as Jack Johnson (1971), Live-Evil (1971), and Agharta (1975).
As a solo artist, Henderson opened his account with 1976’s Solid which, like all of his catalog, was self-produced and, chiefly, self-composed. It reached No.10 R&B, the first of six consecutive Top 20 entries on that LP chart, all on Buddah Records.
The 1977 follow-up Goin’ Places featured Herbie Hancock on Fender Rhodes, and this and In The Night Time (1978) had the esteemed Ray Parker Jr. on guitar. The latter set was fuelled by the “Take Me I’m Yours” hit, and 1980’s Wide Receiver, including its title track single, was another bestseller.
As he had proved on “Valentine Love’ and “You Are My Starship,” Henderson was also an adept “quiet storm” soul balladeer, as he underlined again on his last substantial hit, 1981’s “Can’t We Fall In Love Again,” with Phyllis Hyman. Henderson’s last album was Bedtime Stories in 1986, which contained the Top 20 R&B hit “Do it To Me Good (Tonight), after which he stopped recording, leaving a body of work that is respected to this day.