“I’m not a star. I’ll never be a Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley or a Ray Charles. I’m just an imitator, man. I’m doing a very bad imitation on the bass of Jerry Jemmott, Bernard Odum, Jim Fielder, Jimmy Blanton, Igor Stravinsky, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, James Brown, Charlie Parker… the cats, man. I’m just backing up the cats…” Jaco Pastorius
As a founding member of Blood Sweat & Tears, Jim Fielder’s bass playing captivated millions by way of the band’s extraordinary run of hits and classic albums, including the monumental Child Is Father to the Man (1968), and BS&T (1969) both of which were a groundbreaking meld of rock, jazz, rhythm & blues, and pop music.
The towering Texan also contributed to landmark albums by Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention (Absolutely Free), Buffalo Springfield (Again), George Benson (Tell It Like It Is), Tim Buckley (s/t, Goodbye and Hello), Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, and Al Kooper among others.
Profoundly inspired by James Jamerson, Fielder likely helped Fender sell many a Precision bass in the late 1960s as his warm gritty tone, and soulful improvisations within Blood, Sweat & Tears’ amazing repertoire were a constant presence on AM/FM radio.
To my ears, Fielder’s best recorded performances with BS &T included “Something’s Goin’ On,” “Smiling Phases,” “Blues Pt. 2” “Lucretia MacEvil,” “John the Baptist (Holy John),” and “Down in the Flood.”
After his time in BS&T, Fielder became Neil Sedaka’s musical director/bassist for several years.