Even if you’ve never heard the name Marcus Miller, there’s a good chance you’ve heard his playing. If you’re a fan of funk and soul music, you will most definitely be familiar with his work! Born in New York in 1959, William Henry Marcus Miller Jr. (Marcus Miller for short) is a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, but is best known for his work on bass guitar.
With a decorated career spanning some thirty years, Marcus has worked with some of the biggest names in the business. Marcus worked primarily as a session musician for over fifteen years, during which he regularly worked as an arranger and producer. He was also a member of the famous Saturday Night Live band. He would later become the band’s musical director, solidifying his reputation as one of the hottest players in town.
Marcus has appeared on over five hundred recordings and his list of artist credits makes for some impressive reading! During his career, Marcus has played for Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Bill Withers, Mariah Carey and Beyonce, to name a few!
In the ‘80s, Marcus moved away from session work and branched out into a solo career. During this time, he released two albums, Suddenly (1983) and Marcus Miller (1984), on which he served as songwriter, producer and instrumentalist. He has since released a further ten solo albums! Marcus won a Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” for his Seventh solo album M2!
Towards the end of the ‘90s, Marcus joined the supergroup Legends, in which he played bass clarinet and bass guitar alongside Eric Clapton, Steve Gadd, David Sanborn and Joe Sample. The band appeared at a number of major jazz festivals and once again showcased Marcus’ exceptional musical ability and repertoire. Marcus formed another supergroup, SMV in 2008, with fellow bassists Victor Wooten and Stanley Clarke, producing their first album Thunder in 2011.
If all this wasn’t enough, Marcus Miller is also an accomplished film composer, writing numerous scores for directors including Chris Rock and Reginald Hudlin! Some of his highlights include An American Love Story (1999), Save The Last Dance 2 (2006), Good Hair (2009) and most recently, the Disney film Safety (2020).
We were lucky enough to be joined by Marcus in our studio back in 2019, where he talked about his career and influences. Check out the video below.