I play the bass guitar. I LOVE the bass guitar. I love how it sounds, how it feels, how it looks, and how if makes me the happiest man on this planet earth while I’m holding and slowly dry humping it. Oh I’m kidding about the last bit there…or am I? Catch me alone with one of my axes on a Friday night and anything is possible.
I always thought the bass player had the 2nd best job in their respective band. The first being the frontman, of course. Who the hell didnt want to be Axl Rose or James Hetfield. Dude I would’ve killed…no joke. But over the course of my life I’ve continued my love affair with the bass guitar and my desire to be the front of any band has slowly diminished.
So lets get to it. THE SIX bass guiarists that most influenced me and somehow convinced me that I was a bassist and NOT James Hetfield. I wept…I still weep. Each of these 6 all star thumpers have traits and styles that I can only hope to weakly emulate someday. Two are a little different but all 6 ar truely great bassists in theirs or any other genre.
This isn’t a list of who I think are the BEST bassists of all time. This only looks at the ones I felt influenced me the most over the years at different times during my musical upbringing.
This amazing bassist hails from Denmark and, in my opinion is one of the founding fathers of psycobilly, a off shoot of rockabilly and fused with punk. He gets out of the navy and basically locks himself into his apartment. Builds…BUILDS his first bass and a few weeks later reemerges a killer bass man (thats what Ive heard…someone needs to fact check it for me on Wikipedia). For me his driving traditional walking bass lines infused with extreme aggression speed and power made him a player that I could maybe one day hope to emulate. And then because I guess he was bored of being awesome he hands his new wife a new hand made bass, teaches her how to play, all the while learning how to play guitar to form another great band the Horror Pops. His style, his attitude, and amazing skill set get him up on this list. A true one of a kind!
Not number one?!?! WTF!! I know I know. I love cliff and still feel as if I and all of the music world truely missed out on something amazing that could have been. (And more than likely NO Load and Reload) I dont need to go into any detail. He is on every top 5 of all time bassists lists. He over the course of his cut way to short career and life revolutionized how the bass guitar was played and helped mold the sound and all future metal basses to come (all of them). He was the first bassist that I was intrested in for his playing style, sound, and stage performance. I couldn’t take my eyes of his fucking hair and his giant hands working his Rickenbacker. He’s not a legend. He is the legend. And who wouldn’t smoke a joint with Cliff?
Now I will admit that this selection might be a little off the wall…thats only because I’m assuming, the majority of you reading this are saying “Who’s Vic Victor?”. Well He’s the frontman of what I think is the best underrated band in the US today. Hailing from the tough streets of Detroit Vic and the Koffin Kats have been virtually on tour for 15 straight years. In my option he is the apitomy of the grinding musician that not only has killer chops but wil live the life till the day he dies no mater what. He’s a great song writer and an incredible bassist whose driving face melting bass lines are the cornerstone of a truely great Psychobilly band. I had the chance to speak to Vic before a gig in Denver a few years back and he and the band dont know any other way of doing it.They play, record, tour, drink, meet fans…all year long. He’s one of the true heros of the music world and a musician that doesn’t just talk the talk, he’s one that helped invent the walk.
Dee Dee Ramone
The Romones were one of the earliest bands to strip away the bullshit and just play raw rock n’ roll. With out the Ramones and the other NYC based bands of the mid 1970s I’m not sure punk, hardcore, thrash, and others would have been as big as they were during the 1980s. And right in the middle was Dee Dee. Not the greatest bassist by any means but placed into therhythm section of a band like the Ramones Dee Dee drove the sound with pure energy. He represents for me my first milestone bassist that I was like “I can play like Dee Dee” with some work and practice. Not because its easy to play but because the music was approachable, clear to interpret and fun as fuck to play. The first bass track I learned to play, start to finish, was PinHead by the Ramones.
The “live guy” Jason was the complete package to me and in many ways still is. His complete and total commitment to his craft, his decoration to his fans, how he stuck to his guns and choose to follow his own path and quit METALLICA. As with the rest of the world I thought he had lost his mind but he was the first musician that showed me that all the money, women, tours, cars, houses, and sandwiches in the world doesnt buy happiness. You also have to respect a person that is asked to replace your hero on your favorite band. Carrying the torch of Cliffs Legacy all the while trying to be your own person and not falling into the imitation trap that I think a lot of people would have done if in his shoes back in 1986-1987. He still influences my playing style, how I approach music on a more spiritual level, and how I want to be around others that like my music.
Les Claypool of Primus fame has been and continues to be the bassist that if I could pick the one guy to play like it would be Les…period. I dont have to go into any detail about his bass playing skill level. In my mind if there was some rank structure based system in the music world, Les would occupy the highest rank available to a bass player sitting at the Joint Chiefs of Music. He is the stylstic, musical, and everything else go to in regards to Primus. His bass playing legendary, his story telling some of the best in the world. I have a hard time trying to not sound like Claypool when I’m writing lyrics. I will never come close to being able to even sound like him so no worries there. Primus created a genre of music thats a mixture of funk, punk, metal, country, and everything else at times. He was the first bassist that I had heard where I thought that this is the greatest bassist ever. To this day the band that originated its own form is truely its only card carrying member of that special club. Les is the man and oh yeah Primus sucks.
There you have it. MY list of most personally influential bass players known to me or man. Agree or disagree? Lets start a conversation. Post up your top players!
Oh and before I forget – these great bassists got cut but they all are super important to me as well…