These Musicians Sure Know How To Slap The Bass

Every member of a band has a role to play that makes the group sound like one fluid system. Whether its the drums keeping the beat, the singer belting out lyrics, or the guitarist playing the melody, every piece is crucial. One of these necessary elements is the bass. Either electric or acoustic, the bass helps the song sound full-bodied and can either make or break a track. Unfortunately, not all bass players are as recognized as they should be, and can be overshadowed by other instruments. To remind listeners of the importance of the bass in music here’s a list of some of the greatest bass players around.

Victor Wooten Has Been Playing For Decades

Victor Wooten
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Victor Wooden is best known for his role as bassist for the group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He has played with the group since their inception in 1988, as well as with the band SMV and Nitro. Wooden began playing the bass at the age of two and was playing in his family’s band, The Wooten Brother’s Band, by the time he was six.

Throughout his career, he has been named Bass Player of the Year three times by Bass Player magazine, received five Grammy Awards, and was ranked No.10 in the Top Ten Bassists of All Time by Rolling Stone.

Jaco Pastorius Played All Kinds Of Music

Jaco Pastorius
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Although many people might not know Jaco Pastorius, many skilled bass players are very familiar with his name. Starting his music career as a drummer, a wrist injury led him to switch to the bass, something he mastered incredibly fast.

Focusing on jazz fusion, during the 70s, he grew to become one of the most sought-after bassists in the industry, playing with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Sam & Dave, and more. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1982 after getting in a fight with a bouncer outside of a Florida club

Les Claypool Was Inspired By Rush

Les Claypool
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Les Claypool is known for his unique and funky style of playing the bass, however, he wasn’t always a master and claims to have been inspired by Geddy Lee of Rush. He commented that:

“When I saw my first Rush concert, I spent the whole time watching Geddy’s hands […]There were so many things I didn’t know; I didn’t even know there were such things as roundwound strings. I’d had that Memphis a year and a half without changing the strings, and here I was trying to sound like Geddy Lee and Chris Squire.” He later went on to form the group Primus and the supergroup Oysterheads

Paul McCartney Was Reluctant To Play The Bass

Paul McCartney
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Although many people know Paul McCartney best for his songwriting and singing in the iconic group the Beatles, his skill at the bass tends to be overlooked. Ironically, despite his talent at the instrument, he took on the position as bass player reluctantly and only agreed to it after Stuart Sutcliffe left the group.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for McCartney to become comfortable with the instrument, taking the Beatles to new heights with his abilities. On top of that, he was also an adequate guitar and drum player although he mostly plays the bass.

Cliff Burton Played The Bass For His Brother

Cliff Burton
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Cliff Burton was the bass player for the heavy metal band Metallica from 1982 until his death in 1986. As a young teenager, Burton’s brother past away, and he vowed to become “The best bassists for [his] brother.”

He would then practice over six hours a day, even after he had joined Metallica. While his years in Metallica were limited, he had a huge impact on the genre, even after his death. This led to Rolling Stone naming him No.9 on their list of the greatest bass players of all time.

John Paul Jones Was A Key Aspect Of Led Zeppelin

John Paul Jones
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Before joining Led Zeppelin, John Paul Jones had already made a name for himself playing bass for groups such as Cat Stevens, Donovan, Jeff Beck, among others. After meeting Robert Plant, John Bonham, and Jimmy Paige, the four came together to form Led Zeppelin, regarded was one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.

After Led Zeppelin disbanded, Jones continued to play music and even started the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme.

Flea Hasn’t Slowed Down For A Second

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Best known as the bassist and the only constant member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea has also played the bass for other bands including What is This?, Fear, and Jane’s Addiction. He’s also collaborated with numerous artists including Johnny Cash, The Mars Volta, Tom Waits, and more.

His style of fusing funk, rock, psychedelic, and punk makes him stand out among other musicians and has labeled him as one of the greatest bassists of all time. In 2009, he was named the second best bassist by Rolling Stone.

Geddy Lee Does It All

Geddy Lee
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Geddy Lee is not only the bassist of the rock and roll group Rush but also sings and plays the keyboard as well. Very few musicians have been able to accomplish playing three instruments at once, but then again, there’s only one Geddy Lee.

He’s been named as an inspiration to numerous other famous artists, and only has one solo album outside of his work in Rush. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, and are the only group to be made Officers of the Order of Canada.

Jack Bruce Kept Up With His Iconic Band Members

Jack Bruce
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According to Rolling Stone, “Most musicians would have a very hard time distinguishing themselves if they wound up in a band with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker […] but Jack Bruce was so gifted on the bass that he did it with ease.” Although he is best known for his work in the band Cream, he also had a successful solo career almost the entire time that he has played music.

On top of playing bass, he is also a songwriter, as well as plays the guitar, cello, piano, and harmonica. Although most of his music is geared towards rock and roll, he describes himself as a jazz musician.

John Entwistle Is A Madman On The Bass

John Entwistle
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Referred to as Thunderfingers and Ox, John Entwistle had a music career that spanned over 40 years. Best known for playing in The Who, Entwistle received formal training for the piano and French horn before finally switching to bass.

The way he played turned the bass into a lead instrument, overpowering Townshend’s guitar on numerous occasions. His solo in “My Generation” has been described as one of the greatest rock and roll bass solos ever played and puts him at the top of many great bass players lists.

Lemmy Kilmister Was As Hard As They Come

Lemmy Kilmister
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Lemmy Kilmister was the bassist, songwriter, and lead vocalist for the heavy metal group Motörhead. He was known for using a Rickenbacker bass, which he would manipulate in order to achieve an overpowering sound that set the tone for each song.

He also played using power chords, something that not all bassists do, and gave Motörhead a very unique sound. Unfortunately, because of Lemmy’s hard-living lifestyle, he died in 2015 from prostate cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure.

Roger Waters Changed Rock And Roll

Roger Waters
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The primary singer, songwriter, and bassist for the band Pink Floyd, Roger Waters has had a music career that has lasted for decades. While he first started as just the bassist, after Syd Barrett left the band, he took on other responsibilities as well.

In addition to playing in Pink Floyd, Rogers has also had a lengthy solo career, releasing four albums titled: The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, Radio K.A.O.S., Amused To Death, and Is This the Life We Really Want?

Bootsy Collins Is A Master Of Funk

Bootsy Collins
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In the early 1970s, funk icon Bootsy Collins began to rise to fame playing along with artists such as James Brown. Collins worked on tracks such as “Soul Power” and “Power Bad” with Brown, which helped to make a name for himself.

It wasn’t long before Collins started his own band called the Parliament-Funkadelic, which established him as one of the great funk bassists and musicians of his time. He was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, along with 15 other musicians in Parliament-Funkadelic.

Charles Mingus Is A Jazz Legend

Charles Mingus
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Coming into popularity in the 1940s and 50s, Charles Mingus is a double bassist, pianist, and composer. He was big on improvisation, and his skills both as a bassist and a composer have earned him the title of one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers of all time. He had a career that spanned over three decades, collaborating with artists such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and more.

After he passed away in 1979, the Library of Congress took his collection of papers and recordings which they described as “the most important acquisition of a manuscript collection relating to jazz in the Library’s history”.

Steve Harris Has Stuck With Iron Maiden Since The Beginning

Steve Harris
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Steve Harris has been the only constant member of the metal band Iron Maiden and has been with the group since 1975. He acts as the bassist, backup vocalist, and primary songwriter for the group, and has also been known to play the keyboard at times.

Harris’ style while playing the bass has been described as a “gallop,” which is noticeable on songs such as “The Trooper,” “Run to the Hills,” among others. He is regarded as one of the best bass players to ever come out of the metal genre.

Geezer Butler Is A Busy Bassist

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Terrance Michael Joseph Butler, otherwise known as “Geezer Butler,” is the bassist and primary singer of the heavy metal group Black Sabbath. Before Black Sabbath, Butler played rhythm guitar, citing John Lennon as an influence.

However, when Black Sabbath was formed, he decided to switch to bass so he didn’t have to play with another guitarist. Although he played with Black Sabbath for some time, he also had several solo projects in the work. After Black Sabbath called it quits in 2017, Butler began to play bass for the group Deadland Ritual.

John Deacon Wrote Many Of Queen’s Songs

John Deacon
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Best known for playing in the band Queen, John Deacon provided rock and roll with some of its most recognizable base riffs such as “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Under Pressure,” and more. During his time in Queen, Deacon would regularly write songs and would have at least one credit on each album.

After the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991, Deacon began to decrease how often he would perform, only playing with the remaining members of Queen. Then, he retired from music in 1997 after recording “No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young.”

Chris Squire Played With Yes For 47 Years

Chris Squire
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Chris Squire was a founding member, bass player, and singer/songwriter of the progressive rock group Yes. Squire was interested in music from a young age, enjoying the music at church before picking up the bass guitar when he was 16 years old.

When he was 20, he formed Yes in 1968 with Jon Anderson, and remained the only bassist for the next 47 years. His trademark bass was the Rickenbacker 4001, and his skill at the instrument has been revered by his contemporaries and younger generations.

Tim Commerford Is Still Going Strong

Tim Commerford
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Tim Commerford was the bassists for the rock group Rage Against the Machine for several years, as well as for the supergroups Audioslave and Prophets of Rage. He’s credited with helping give the bands he plays in extra power, which is what makes them sound so loud and emotional.

While people usually talk about guitarist Tom Morello when it comes to their music, Commerford recently made it onto the list of “20 Underrated Base Guitarists” by Paste in 2014. Currently, he plays bass and sings for the groups Future Loser and WAKRAT.