When Jaco Pastorius was beaten to death in 1987 at the hands of an out-of-control nightclub bouncer, the music world lost one of its greatest innovators and the bass community its most significant virtuoso. A decade earlier, armed with a fretless 1962 Fender Jazz Bass and an unbridled imagination, Jaco forever changed the concept of what the bass guitar could be. With a sound all his own and mind-boggling dexterity to match, his landmark debut album and later work with musical pioneers Weather Report and Joni Mitchell rocketed him to international fame and brought critical acclaim. Today his extraordinary accomplishments on that ‘62 Jazz still amaze, and his status as the greatest bass guitar player of all time endures.
On that fateful night in ‘87 though, much more than a great musical figure was lost for four young people in particular, when in an instant the Pastorius children– Mary, John, Felix and Julius– suddenly found themselves fatherless. In the years to come the siblings would join forces to form Jaco Pastorius Incorporated, or JPI, to help preserve their dad’s legacy. With the help of family friend Bob Bobbing, JPI would go on to launch the official Jaco Pastorius website, eliminate unauthorized bootlegs from shelves, and stage several successful tribute concerts. Now, twenty years after his murder, Jaco’s kids are attempting to recover their ultimate heirloom, their father’s historic fretless– better known by Jaco fans as the “Bass Of Doom”.
By most accounts, the bass had been missing since the summer of 1986 when it was stolen from Jaco in New York City. Despite his attempts with family and friends to locate it, the four-string‘s whereabouts were a complete mystery and would remain so for the next twenty years. The Bass Of Doom’s mystique would grow into the stuff of legend, and soon would be considered one of the most valuable bass guitars in the world. Despite the occasional rumor of a “Bass Of Doom sighting”, it seemed like the stolen bass might never be found. That is, of course, until it showed up one day in early 2006 in a small guitar shop on New York’s West Side.