Nathan Lamar Watts, born 1954 in Detroit, Michigan is an American session bass guitar player, best known for his work with Stevie Wonder from the 1970s to the present. He has served as Stevie Wonder's musical director for the last twelve years.
Born in the U.S. city of Detroit, 25 March 1954, Nathan Watts started playing the trumpet while he was still in elementary school, inspired by Lee Morgan jazz giant. Watts was part of a trio that had other future session musicians, such as Ray Parker Jr. on clarinet and drummer Ollie Brown, and often addressed the Hitsville Studios which Motown possessed in the city to attend rehearsals and recordings of the Funk Brothers, the baseband of the seal. When Parker left the clarinet to adopt the guitar he convinced Watts to bass, which was the first thing that he did after graduate from High School. With his first instrument, a National Bass, Watts learned Cold Sweat from James Brown, and soon began to study the lines of other great bassists such as James Jamerson, Tony Newton, and Bob Babbitt. When Ray Parker Jr. joined Marvin Gaye's band, Watts joined a local group called the Final Decision, with the intention of studying accounting, if his career as a musician failed.
In August 1974, Watts received a call to work with Stevie Wonder, in replacement of Reggie McBride, who had joined Rare Earth. After being selected as the official bassist of the band, Watts took part in the Japanese tour of 1975, and then began recording the album Songs in the Key of Life. From that moment on, Nathan Watts's career has continued to develop, either along with Stevie Wonder, well as with many other artists.
Style and Valuation:
Nathaw Watts grew up listening to the Funk Brothers as well as other musicians rock as Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Rare Earth, Mahogany Rush, or Steppenwolf. However, the same Watts admits are his three main references as bassist James Jamerson, Chuck Rainey and Joseph "lucky" Scott, bassist of Curtis Mayfield. Other reference to Watts bass players are a Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Rocco Prestia, Willie Weeks, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten and Gerald Veasley.
Technically, his style is characterized by the use of three fingers of the right hand, the strong attack that prints the notes, as well as the frequent use of techniques of palm mute, hammer on, trills and slides. The musician has developed an important career along with Stevie Wonder, with whom he has recorded some songs that would become classics for lovers: "I Wish", "As", "I Ain't Gonna Stand for It" and "Do I Do" are among Watts top favorite bass lines. More than 36 years in the service of Stevie Wonder - along with being the musical director of the band for 12 years - he earned in 2010 the International Bassist Award from the Winter NAMM Show, an award that recognizes the achievements of the musician throughout his career.
Nathan Watts has used his 1974 Fender Precision Bass and his 1979 MusicMan StingRay as main instruments throughout his career. He has also used a Fender Jazz Bass and Yamaha, Aria, and B.C. Rich(four and five string) bass. He currently switches between Bossa basses (a custom made five string cherry sunburst bass and a black five string bass)for a modern tone, and Alleva Coppola basses (a LG-5 Classic Crewes of five strings with and without frets). He also uses GHS Boomers strings, Elixir Nanowebs, and Hartke amplifiers.