The Chicken (Jaco Pastorius)

The Chicken is a cool funk tune composed by Pee Wee Ellis, saxophonist and important member of James Brown’s band in the 60s. The song is made famous by Jaco Pastorius, who made it his signature song.

Here’s a video of Jaco Pastorius and his band playing The Chicken. Other band members are Peter Erskine (drums), Don Alias (Percussion), Othello Molineaux (steelpan), Randy Brecker (trumpet) and Bob Mintzer (saxophone).



The bass guitar tabs:



Here’s a guitar arrangement for the theme:


  1. ErwinJul 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Can’t wait for some solo tabs as played by John Scofield with Jaco…;-)

  2. Kevin SanmoestamJul 22, 2014 at 2:54 am

    Greetings from Suriname, South America,

    this is a great lesson and it is well transcribed, but my concern is on the last 4 measures of the song the tabs notation of the C9 chord: instead of using 089890(because this is a C#9 chord) my intuition tells me that the C9 is played last four measures where instead of 089890 the correct tab notation must be 078780. If I am wrong at this, can you please reply immediately. I am very comfortable when I receive critic and updates on my musical knowledge.

  3. Fabrice LoedecJul 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Désolé mon anglais est défaillant, alors je m exprime en Français.
    Bravo pour votre travail, c’est un plaisir de recevoir les leçons.

    Pour Chicken, comment jouer l’accompagnement?


  4. Manel MercadalJul 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    I think you have misread the tab, it is xx898x and not 089890. You will see that your 078780 (E,E,Bb,D,G,E) is the same as xx898x (Bb,E,G) where the D is missing. I agree that your chord sound better since it has all the notes in it.
    Hope this makes sense.

    • LariAug 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Dont play big chords when theres bass… 😉

  5. Michael Kent SmithJul 27, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Thanks for the arrangement!

    However, the video is not the Jaco Pastorius Band. It’s the Gil Evans Orchestra!
    Gil himself is on piano and Mark Egan is on “second” bass. Jaco apparently is a guest performer and plays the lion’s share of the bass; I only hear Mark Egan join in at the end, doubling Jaco’s written line.

  6. AlainJul 28, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Hi there, if you want to vary your chicken sources of inspiration, here is a cute one from Tom Ibarra (13 yrs old at the time)

  7. HarryMar 16, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    This lesson is great! IS there any way to print the tab?

    • Dirk LaukensMar 17, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Hi Harry, just richt click the tab and select “print image…”

  8. jayMar 30, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Great stuff Dirk!!!! Too bad Pastorius didn’t get help.

  9. Mike C.Feb 13, 2016 at 5:32 am

    How can you consider the chords to not include Bb7 to Eb7 in the first 4 measures of the tune? The bassline clearly puts the Eb on beat 3, and the G note(which is the 3rd of the Eb chord) on beat 4.

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