Marcus Miller (born William Henry Marcus Miller Jr.; June 14, 1959) is an American jazz composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, best known as a bass guitarist. He has worked with trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Herbie Hancock, singer Luther Vandross, and saxophonist David Sanborn, among others.

Life and career

Early life

Miller was born in Brooklyn, New York City, in 1959 and raised in a musical family that includes his father, William Miller (a church organist and choir director) and jazz pianist Wynton Kelly. He is classically trained as a clarinetist and also plays keyboards, saxophone and guitar. He began to work regularly in New York City, eventually playing bass and writing music for jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith. Miller soon became a session musician, appearing on over 500 albums by such artists as Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Mariah Carey, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Frank Sinatra, George Benson, Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Joe Walsh, Grover Washington Jr., Donald Fagen, Bill Withers, Kazumi Watanabe, Chaka Khan, LL Cool J and Flavio Sala.[1]

Professional career

Marcus Miller at Leverkusener Jazztage 2017
Miller at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, 2007

After being discovered by Michal Urbaniak in 1975, Miller spent approximately 15 years performing as a session musician, observing how band leaders operated. During that time he also did a lot of arranging and producing. He was a member of the Saturday Night Live band 1988–1989. He wrote the intro to Aretha Franklin's "I Wanna Make It Up To You". He has played bass on over 500 recordings including those of Luther Vandross, Grover Washington Jr., Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, McCoy Tyner, Weldon Irvine, Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol. He won the "Most Valuable Player" award (given by NARAS to recognize studio musicians) three years in a row and was subsequently awarded "player emeritus" status and retired from eligibility. In the nineties, Miller began to write his own music and make his own records, putting a band together and touring regularly.[1]

Between 1988 and 1990 he appeared regularly both as a musical director and also as the house band bass player in the Sunday Night Band during two seasons of Sunday Night on NBC late-night television.[2]

As a composer, Miller co-wrote several songs on the Miles Davis album Tutu, including its title track. He also composed "Chicago Song" for David Sanborn and co-wrote "'Til My Baby Comes Home", "It's Over Now", "For You to Love", and "Power of Love" for Luther Vandross. Miller also wrote "Da Butt", which was featured in Spike Lee's School Daze.[1]

Miller currently has his own band. In 1997 he played bass guitar and bass clarinet in a band called Legends, featuring Eric Clapton (guitars and vocals), Joe Sample (piano), David Sanborn (alto sax) and Steve Gadd (drums). It was an 11-date tour of major jazz festivals in Europe.

Miller also hosts a jazz history and influences show called Miller Time with Marcus Miller on the Real Jazz channel of Sirius XM Holdings satellite radio system.[3]

In addition to his recording and performance career, Miller has established a parallel career as a film score composer (see listing below), having written numerous scores for films.[4]

Awards and recognition

Marcus Miller at Stockholm Jazz Fest 2009

Miller has won numerous Grammy Awards as a producer for Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chaka Khan and Wayne Shorter. He won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1992, for Luther Vandross' "Power of Love" and in 2001 he won for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his seventh solo instrumental album, .

In 2012 Miller was appointed an UNESCO Artist for Peace supporting and promoting the UNESCO Slave Route Project. His 2015 album, Afrodeezia, earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2016 for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.[5][6]


Miller is noted for playing a 1977 Fender Jazz Bass that was modified by Roger Sadowsky with the addition of a Bartolini preamp so he could control his sound in the studio.[citation needed] Fender started to produce a Marcus Miller signature Fender Jazz Bass in four-string (made in Japan) and five-string (made in U.S) versions. Later, Fender moved the production of the four-string to their Mexico factory[7] and discontinued both four- and five-string models in 2015. DR Strings also produced a series of Marcus Miller signature stainless steel strings known as "Fat Beams", which come in a variety of sizes.[8]

As of 2015, Dunlop has begun producing Marcus Miller Super Bright bass strings which Miller has switched to.[9] In 2015, Marcus began endorsing Sire Guitars.[10][11]


As leader

As sideman

With Donald Fagen

With Luther Vandross

  • 1981: Never Too Much
  • 1983: "Busy Body"
  • 1985: The Night I Fell in Love
  • 1985: "'Til My Baby Comes Home"
  • 1985: "It's Over Now"
  • 1986: "I Really Didn't Mean It"
  • 1986: "Give Me the Reason"
  • 1987: "Stop to Love"
  • 1987: "See Me"
  • 1988: "Luther in Love – Megamix"
  • 1988: "Any Love"
  • 1988: "She Won't Talk to Me"
  • 1989: "The Best of Love"
  • 1989: "Come Back"
  • 1991: "The Rush"
  • 1991: "Power of Love / Love Power" (Uno Clio & Colin and Carl Remix)
  • 1991: "Power of Love / Love Power"
  • 1991: "Power of Love"
  • 1993: "Never Let Me Go"
  • 1993: "Heaven Knows"
  • 1995: "This Is Christmas"
  • 1995: "Power of Love / Love Power" (The Frankie Knuckles Mixes)
  • 1996: "Your Secret Love"
  • 1996: "I Can Make It Better"
  • 1998: "I Know"
  • 2001: "Luther Vandross"
  • 2003: "Dance with My Father"
  • 2007: "Love, Luther"

With Grover Washington Jr (1980–1984)

  • 1980: Winelight
  • 1981: Come Morning
  • 1982: The Best Is Yet to Come
  • 1984: Inside Moves

With David Sanborn (1975–2000)

With Miles Davis (1980–1990)

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Dave Grusin

  • 1980: Mountain Dance

With The Jamaica Boys (1986–1990)

  • 1987: The Jamaica Boys
  • 1989: The Jamaica Boys II: J. Boys

With Bernard Wright

Film scores


  1. ^ a b c "Bio Marcus Miller". www.marcusmiller.com. Retrieved 2016-06-05. 
  2. ^ Sunday Night episodes No. 104 (1988), No. 121 (1989)
  3. ^ http://www.siriusxm.com/servlet/Satellite?c=StreamJockey&childpagename=SXM/StreamJockey/MOB_HostDetail&cid=1477463488053&pagename=SXM/Wrapper
  4. ^ See also interview on ABC Radio National Music Show with Andrew Ford Nov 2010
  5. ^ "UNESCO Marcus Miller". www.marcusmiller.com. Retrieved 2018-01-17. 
  6. ^ "Grammy Nominations 2016: See the Full List of Nominees". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-01-17. 
  7. ^ "Fender,com". Fender.com. Archived from the original on July 6, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  8. ^ Marcus Miller Fat Beams at Drstrings.com. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  9. ^ Marcus Miller Super Bright Strings and Dunlop.com Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]

External links