Born on July 7, 1951, in Yazoo City, Miss., Michael Earl Henderson moved to Detroit at a young age with his mother, Rose Williams, who sang in church, and his stepfather, Earl Henderson. During his youth he played cello and then switched to bass. He was precociously talented and performed with local bands before his 12th birthday.
“Mom was always cool with the noise I made in the basement and backyard, and later when I started playing in the local bar scene,” he said in the liner notes. By the time he was 10 or 11, he’d saved up enough money to take a bus to see a poster of Motown performers at the Fox Theater.
“I said to myself, ‘One day I’ll be on stage with all these artists,'” he said.
Henderson was a sideman until 1976—the year his time with Davis ended—when jazz drummer and bandleader Norman Connors invited him to write and record a song for his “Saturday Night Special” album. He sang that song, “Valentine Love”, with Jean Carne. mr. Henderson wrote and sang on the title track of Mr. Connors, “You Are My Starship”, and sang a duet with Phyllis Hyman on his song “We Both Need Each Other”.
After signing a deal with Buddah Records in 1976, Mr. Henderson into a sexy crooner and songwriter. The cover of his 1981 album, “Slingshot,” featured him on a beach in a tiny aqua bathing suit.
When Mr. Henderson appeared at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood in 1979, Connie Johnson, a pop critic for The Los Angeles Times, wrote that he “isn’t quite a platinum sex symbol in the Teddy Pendergrass way—yet,” adding : “Currently he is in the same league as Peabo Bryson and Lenny Williams.”