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I am quite curious who your favorite bassists are and why. I love knowing specific musical examples. Often I hear that so-and-so is a good musician, but I never get responses to my satisfaction as to why s/he is a favorite. I really want to know about your choices.

I am asking because I started playing bass in January of 2005, long after becoming a CH fan and several months before discovering SE. Once I finally listened to SE, I was completely amazed/floored/dumbfounded by Nigel Griggs. Meanwhile, I didn't have that lightbulb moment with Nick because I was already a fan and knew the music. It's only recently that I'm listening to his parts and going "Wow..."

So with that bit of introduction, I want to know your favorites because I am trying to expand my bass circle of influences. I adore Griggs as the master of "feel", but I want to find more players to listen to. For example, I started noticing Adam Clayton's parts, but there is a whole world of people I haven't heard yet!


Lu Yan: He who speaks, does not Know; He who Knows, does not speak. Surely you're masterful.

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OK, I can only think of 3 right now and neither of them are new to you, just that you forgot to mention one.

I really like Nigel and Adam too, along with Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. I'll let you know if I think of some others.

Why do I like them? I like these 3, and tend to like any bassists that I do like, for similar reasons. Basically because a good bassist really draws you into the song. You used the word feel to describe Nigel's playing, which is quite apt. A good bass player and riff really makes you feel the song and draws you into it, so you often can't help but hum or dance away as you get caught in a groove. So for now I can answer the why, as it's a rather generic one.

Shall have to reflect more on the whos...
Yes, I forgot to mention Flea, but I think that's in part because he's famous as just being Flea. It's like an actor who is more known as a celebrity than as an actor. Which isn't to say that Flea isn't brilliant because he so is.

I love his slap technique. He's absolutely fearless as a player, and he's very intelligent and capable as a teacher. I remember many years ago reading a column of his in a guitar magazine to teach bassists the same slap technique. That one article went a long way for me to respect him.
Mike Chunn - The basslines in the early Enz stuff far outweigh the later recordings (in my opinion of course...) I always find that a good bassline consists of notes that shouldn't fit...but do. Sweet dreams middle part is a perfect example. Mike had a great sense of 'weird but good' basslines.
Macca - It's not because he is Paul of The Beatles. I can understand how people can be retrospective and think "Wow, he's Paul of The Beatles, he's a great bassplayer", especially teenagers just getting into music. They think they HAVE to like him because it's The Beatles. If you listen to some of his basslines, for example Penny Lane or Helter Skelter, they have been highly influential in modern music. In fact, I remember hearing a story about Macca saying he liked Together Alone upon hearing it and joking that he should sue Nick for 'borrowing' some of his basslines!
Macca . . . um because he's so inventive. From his early rockin' Hofner riffs to his incomprable psychedelic inventiveness and melodic genius. The man is quite simply a monster musician and a bass in his hands becomes a beautiful thing.

For rock and roll, you cannot top John Entwistle. Chops coupled with improvisational abilities bar none.

I really love Charlie Haden (an upright player) because he is melodic and moving (and not arrogant about his chops . . . which he has).

And for sheer audacity, I am a pretty darn great bass player if I do say so myself, In fact, here is a groove I came up with today: Dead Raccoon

Peace and merriment,

If you listen to some of his basslines, for example Penny Lane or Helter Skelter,

That's John Lennon playing the Bass on Helter Skelter.

I agree about Macca though, he's extremely melodic on the bass, his basslines are always more than just outlining the chord progression. Specific example, Silly Love SOngs, that bass line is fantastic.

John Wetton, again for the melodic basslines, and the sheer power of his playing, he gets an enormous sound out of the instrument. Specific example would be Starless by King Crimson, the mighty bass line that builds and builds in the solo.

Les Claypool, the man is a god. Anyone who can get that much out of a bass, just listen to Tommy The Cat and marvel at the fact that most of that is just one bass guitar.

Bootsy Collins, well he invented slap, and he's just so funky.

Honourable mention: Blanton, Ellington's upright bass player in his magical 1940 band, because he made the double bass a front line instrument, proved it could be a soloing instrument and he also used a bow. Specific example being Pitter Patter Panther.
I was going to mention Les Claypool, but Camus beat me to it. Anything by Primus, gotta love a band that has bass as it's primary instrument.

Check out Les Claypool's Frog Brigade and Oysterhead too - the latter is with Trey Anastasio from Phish.

The why portion is that Les lays down some seriously funky grooves, all on bass and not relegated to the rhythm section.
Last edited by hexed
Okay, here's my ten cents:

John Enwhistle - The Ox. Any bass player that can keep up with Keith Moon on drums has to be a genius. He was melodic too - witness his bass lines on "Baba O Reily" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" (if you got The Kids Are Alright DVD, you can solo his bass parts on the 2nd disc for proof).

Paul McCartney - And who's gonna argue? It's bloody Macca!

Mark King - Level 42 bassist. A musician's musician and has won awards from the all the right mags. Regardless whether you like his music, you gotta admit he can work dem thumbs.

Donald "Duck" Dunn - Soul brother. Played on heaps of Stax/Atlantic recordings including those for Aretha and Otis. Could play a bass line that could make cement shake it's ass.

James Jamerson - Motown's bass player. 'Nuff said.

Flea - Taught a lot of people how to fuse funk bass with rock attitude.

Phil Upchurch - A jazz fusion player. He wasn't a smart ass but boy, could he lay the groove on. Listen to his work on George Benson's "Six To Four" - he plays lead and rhythm at the same time.

Bootsy Collins - of course. This man was way too funky to be standing upright.

Paul Chambers - jazz guy. Played on "Kind Of Blue". Made an upright bass super cool and truly beautiful.

Eugene Wight - bass player in Dave Brubeck Quartet. Maybe counting jazz musicians is unfair but you can't deny them their virtuosity.Eugene kept up while Joe Morello was doing the drum solo on "Take Five". The song's in 5/4 so it can't of been that easy!

I'm sure there's others but dinner's on and I'm feelin' hungry. Got to go.
Peter Gifford, the force behind Midnight Oil's classic 80's albums, Place Without a Postcard, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and Diesel and Dust

Bones Hillman, for that bass line in "Counting the Beat" and all his work in the later stages of Midnight Oil, including the brilliant bass driven track "underwater" on the Breathe album

Mike Chunn, for the ingenious early enz bass lines,

and Nigel Griggs, for the ingenious later enz bass lines, and Adz

and me, i can play the bass pretty well for an instrument i've never had lessons on Wink
Last edited by Greatfox
Alain Caron from the now defunct UZEB. Fretted, fretless, four string, five string, six string or more. The guy can solo like the bass is a flute and then he just hits the low end and makes these dark bear farty rumblings that funk.

But looking over the list above . . . yeah, there are many many great bass players. The thing is, there are many styles and functions of the bass and so much of it depends on taste. A lot of these guys are chop monsters who can noodle their minds off. Then there are the groove monsters who just lay it down relentlessly . . . Prince is an amazing bass player . . . but the start of this thread was Griggs and Seymour and those guys are a lot less flash than most of the people mentioned here.

I'd say they fit more into the school of functional bass players who perform their feats admirably. I don't think many people would cite them as bass idols or influences. Maybe I'm wrong. You know Sting is an incredible bass player . . . he has total independence between what he is playing on the bass and what he is singing. Darryl "The Much" Jones is awesome. Gary Grainger . . . I wonder what that guy is doing? Marcus Miller. Tony Levin is one of my all time favourites. That guy will just sit right in the pocket with Manu Katche or whoever . . . Tim Finn even!

Man, there are some heavies out there for sure. Some of them have websites.

I was a professional bassist for five years and during that time I listened to drummers more than bass players. But yeah, it is a great instrument and sometimes the most wonderful thing in the world is to lock in with the drummer and just anchor the song. You've got a lot of power and control as the bass player, but ultimately if what you're doing serves the song . . . keep doing it.

Last edited by shakespeare
its harder to name artists tony levin hasn't played with !!!! What a god amongst bass gods.

You also couldn't go too wrong with any compilation of disco music. When you can pick up a two or three disc set for 20 bucks australian its worth putting up with the cheese aspect of the music for the basslines in the tracks. Many of the top bass players of the 70s were on those tracks as studio musicians.
Marty P. Casey of The Bad Seeds - One of the few bassists to make me sit up and take notice in the last few years. His basslines just exude a coolness musically. Red Right Hand, Stagger Lee, Lovely Creature, Into My Arms, Babe I'm On Fire and nearly all of the last record. Superb.

Nigel Griggs - Not really because of the Enz connection. The Enz being one of my favourite bands is beside the point. Objectively speaking, I just love his playing. Especially on Time and Tide, and it's great hearing how agressive the playing actually is on History Never Repeats on the new mix.

I've always been a fan of Nick Seymour's bass playing on the Together Alone era stuff. I think he's a much better player than Mitchell Froom allowed him to be. All bass playing sounds the same on Mitchell Froom records!

Sorry to be boring, but that's my favourite three players.
I appreciate all the input that was giving on this thread. Over the past 2 weeks or so, I've really tried listening and finding out what it is I like in bass players. It's a lifetime of listening, but this is a place to start.

I know I wrote besides Griggs and Seymour, but I feel the need to mention Nigel again. He might not be "musical hero" type material to the masses, but he is to me. I love his playing because it shows taste and appropriateness to the song. He was able to play in Enz and make the sound fuller when it needed to be that way. SE was never really a guitar driven band, and Neil had his learning period when they both first joined. During that time, Griggs with Rayner worked hard to make a full sound.

Plus, his (or any other musician's) choice of playing simply most of the time should NOT imply an inability to do anything else. In the recent Letters to my Frenz, Nigel does say that he has worked not to overplay a song. To me, that is an exercise in musical restraint instead of throwing in everything plus the kitchen sink.

As for other players I like, I am realizing that I like players who are part of a band and promote the band sound instead of being personalities on their own. There aren't many, but there are definitely bass chop-meister celebrities. If it's not serving the song, what's the point? (I feel similarly about Mariah Carey's whistle tones, but that's a different topic.)

So some of my favorites from bands are
*Bill Gould of Faith No More
*Mike from the Smithereens
*the guy who plays with Sade... (what's his name?)
*Adam Clayton from U2 (previously mentioned)
*Flea from RHCP (also mentioned)
*dUg from King's X, but that's also a band thing. The whole ensemble is fierce all the way around.
*JoJo Garza from Los Lonely Boys, also a fierce Texas band like KX
*Dan K. Brown from The Fixx in the 80s... similar vibe to Nigel in SE.
*Cliff Hugo... followed Mark Hart to his Supertramp project and found a jaw-dropping bassist. Wow, he's good, and probably the most studio-like chop monster of this list.

There are probably many other current favorites that I am no doubt forgetting, and there will be more favorites that I pick up along the way as I keep listening.
Stanley Clarke

virtually every bassist has tried to learn 'School Days' at some point.

Stanley is a very showy bassist, on most of his jazz records, but does turn in a few decent 'pop' performances on his one 'Stanley Clarke Band' album 'Find Out'

Also plays a mean upright bass too.

Justin Currie of Del Amitri is quite a tuneful bassist, but did have a couple of session players on 'Change Everything' and 'Can You Do Me Good' for some strange reason.
Being partially lazy, I agree with Iarla on this -

Originally posted by ::iarla:::
I've always been a fan of Nick Seymour's bass playing on the Together Alone era stuff. I think he's a much better player than Mitchell Froom allowed him to be. All bass playing sounds the same on Mitchell Froom records!

Sorry to be boring, but that's my favourite three players.

Also, I really like Chris Wolstenholme's bass playing - he's from Muse. Especially on Absolution and Blackholes and Revelations. He went from never having picked up a bass before prior to joining the band that was to become Muse, to being top class. Particularly like his stuff on Absolution - Time Is Running Out & Hysteria especially. I just think he's ace. He's also quite funny to watch live because he stands pretty much stock still, only moving to the mic and back, and headbangs in time to every beat on every song while playing. He must get a headache doing that...

Here's two videos of him doing it -

Shepherds Bush Empire in July, doing Time Is Running out -

Hysteria, from Milan earlier this year -

I'm too tired to think of others. Back in the day tho, I originally wanted to learn how to play bass because of Nick Seymour's bass playing, but my dad talked me in to guitar instead!
Aston "Familyman" Barrett of Bob Marley & The Wailers.

His basslines added so much to Bob's songs. They are often the driving force, carry the main hook or riff of the song (examples: Stir It Up, Exodus, Coming In From The Cold, Survival), almost taking the part you'd expect of the lead guitar.

When you look at them closer they are deceptively simple yet remain interesting, melodic and very danceable.
I agree with many of the above suggestions (esp. Giffo and Sting), and thought I'd throw in some of my favourites that no one else seems to have mentioned.

Robert Sledge (Ben Folds Five) - He does an awesome job of anchoring the band against piano and drums, yet remaining melodic as well. And then he jumps on the fuzz pedal and sounds completely different again!Probably not quite as good as Nick, but I think he's very similar.

Bernard Edwards (Chic) - The best disco/funk bass player.

Stuart Zender - He played on the first few Jamiroquai records before falling out with Jay Kay. Very solid, and really drove the band along with his riffs.

Klaus Voorman (of Beatles association fame) - Its really worth watching/listening to The Concert for Bangladesh to see/hear his bass playing. He is really melodic and has a great tone.

I'd also like to mention John Paul Jones. I think a lot of his playing gets lost a bit in the Led Zep mixes, but he comes up a lot stronger on the live DVD, especially on the bluesier numbers. He's a phenomenal musician.

P.S. Sade's bass player is Paul Denman
For me, Jaco Pastorius.

Sometimes I listen to records that he's played on, just to listen to his bass playing and nothing else. Forget all the side issues, the personality problems and trouble he got himself associated with later in his life, the man could simply play traditional and fretless bass like no-one else I have ever heard.

Listen to his playing on his solo stuff, or his albums with Weather Report, Pat Metheny and Joni Mitchell. Astounding.
I agree wih Bernard Edwards (Chic)-he was definitely instrumental in creating many artists' sounds. Such a wonderful bassist with a funk/disco style that has been copied, but never duplicated. On that note,

John Taylor (Duran Duran, The Power Station). Before some of you get all up in arms about me and Duran Duran (as I have gotten some flack for this!), sit back and listen to any of their songs. John was heavily influenced by Bernard as Chic's tune "Good Times" was the song that made him want to play bass, and he also worked with him while recording The Power Station's ST debut in '84. He hs so much talent that tends to go unnoticed because D2 is seen as a "has-been" act and very much a product of the excess of the 80s... but honestly, have a listen to any of their stuff, particularly their first ST album and their early singles and B-sides, and you'll see why he is my favourite bassist.

I also really like Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo).
Well, here are my faves-John Entwistle, Fab Macca and Nick Seymour. The Ox had an amazing sense of style, Macca was and still is a supreme bassist(Entwistle used to wonder how McCartney got such great bass sounds in the 60s) and Nick is such a flowing player. Have to say that I think John Taylor has it sorted too, never a big Duran fan personally but practically every 80s Duran single had a great bassline. Have I said too much? Never mind.
Jah Wobble! Man, that guy has a way around the fretboard! Just check out Metal Box/Second Edition by Public Image Ltd. Bass that makes you dance! Big Grin

A few other favourites...
*Bootsy Collins (Parliament)
*Larry Graham (Sly & The Family Stone)
*Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads)
*John Entwistle (The Who)
*Bernard Edwards (Chic)
*Robbie Shakespeare (Sly & Robbie)

I would beg to differ on the inventor of slap-bass, Camo. I would say Larry Graham; even Bootsy cited him as an innovator and influence on his style.
Last edited by Semi-Detached

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