Melvin Dunlap

Melvin Dunlap played bass on several classic soul and R&B recordings beginning in the early 1970s. When he was a kid, he was sick and stuck in bed for an extended period of time and started playing an old Fender bass his parents purchased from a pawnshop in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Years later he was asked to tour with the O’Jay’s, which brought Melvin to California where he recorded with Charles Wright on the hit “Express Yourself” with his influential bass line, and with Bill Withers on several classic tunes including “Lean On Me,” “Use Me,” and “Another Day to Run.” Melvin made a special bass with only half of the neck with frets, which provided smooth slides and chord changes. His steady and creative bass lines were a big influence on countless musicians, many of whom emailed us over the years to recommend interviewing him for our Oral History video collection. We are so proud that we did!

Interview Date:
August 5, 2019
Date of Birth:
June 9, 1945
Deceased Date:
September 12, 2021
Job Title:
Musician, Bassist

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