Let’s be honest, no one wants to be a bass player.
If your nickname at school hadn’t been awkward dork, you’d be a frontman, blowing the clothes off the nearest member of the opposite sex with your tight leather pants and matching lungs.
If you could handle 6 strings without your fingers falling off you’d be a guitar hero, super talented and super sexy.
The bass is where the dorky boring member goes, eschewing even the rage of the drummer for a life of A pedal anonymity. Look at AC/DC. One of the tightest, finest exponents of hot rocking ever to stride the face of the earth, but Cliff Williams seemed to have lost his personality along with his leather wristband in 1976. He stands at the back. He plays an E. Admittedly he makes millions of pounds a year but it can’t be the most creatively satisfying career can it?
Despite this there are a few hardy souls who buck the trend, bass players who appear to be there by mistake. Tweaking the nose of treble clef superiority with their subsonic superpowers, they’re the leanest,meanest and coolest guys in the band – Check ‘em out:
Steve Harris – Iron Maiden
When I was 16, I spent most of my time drinking cider and enjoying intimate moments with a well used VHS Kathy Lloyd Playboy special .Steve meanwhile spent his formative years knocking out something altogether different-rock classics like Phantom of the Opera and Running Free, and possible the greatest band logo in rock n’ roll history. Employing a slightly odd and very,very difficult slap n’ tickle playing technique, his playing meant he managed to come out looking good despite a penchant for pinstripe spandex. The fact that he’s regarded as one of the nicest geezers in rock only adds to that sinking feeling you get when you realise you have no friends and struggle to pump out twinkle twinkle little star on your instrument of choice (The ukulele).
Joey Dimaio – Manowar
Roadies. They smell, they’re thick, they’re only good for tightening lug nuts and carrying speakers right? What they certainly aren’t is musical geniuses just waiting for the opportunity to crank out a solo 12-string versions of the William Tell overture, followed up by a 42 minute operetta based on The Iliad that somehow gets them signed to Geffen records. Sure Manowar are fucking ridiculous, but its a rare 4 string sorcerer indeed who can come out ahead in a band that features a singer with a 7 octave range.
Lemmy – Motorhead
How may drugs have you taken?How may people have you sexed up? Lemmy would laugh at your pathetic attempts if he had time between swigging from that whisky bottle. His name may have come from blagging ciggarettes from all and sundry (lemmy a fag mate…) but in return he gave us some of the tightest,dirtiest,all-round greatest rock n roll on the planet.
John Entwhistle – The Who
Outwardly the man known as The OX is everything a bass player should be, he’s quiet, resolute -hey, he was even raised in Chiswick. But look at that buzzard Bass, listen to those monolithic grooves. He may be the most boring man Bill Wyman has ever met, but he’s a groove-layer par excellence.
Stig Pederson – D.A.D
Throughout his career with never quite as popular as they deserved Danish rockers D.A.D, Stig has elevated bass playing to Zen levels, realising that minimalist is the way to go and dispensing entirely with 2 superfluous strings. His position on the list isn’t based on musical prowess however, but on his bubble perm, rocket shaped choice of axe and predilection for dressing up as a recently ejected fighter pilot-complete with parachute. Despite his status as a comedy Scandinavian, he still manages to anchor down some of the most lyrically complex, layered and just plain great pop rock of the last 20 years-do yourself a favour and check them out.
Billy Sheehan – Mr Big
So, there’s this guitar player right? His name’s Steve Vai. He was in this band with this dude called Frank Zappa-maybe you heard of him? Well little Stevie managed to be in that band and not ever get upstaged by big Frankie Z. And when Steve got hired by a certain ex-Van Halen frontman, he hired a bass player.Who was better than him. Most people know Sheehan’s later project Mr.Big for the insipid ballad ‘To Be With You’. What they don’t remember is the ultra high velocity rockin propelled by Sheehan and his ridiculously dexterous down tuning.
Cliff Burton – Metallica
There’s a lot of middle managers out there that think latter day Metallica are great. They’re wrong. Want proof?Listen to what’s going on in the background on ‘Trapped Under Ice’. Now listen to ‘Load’(actually,please don’t).Cliff’s demise may have marked the start of Metallica’s supergroup status, but it also started a slippery slide into creative bankruptcy that left most original fans wondering what might have been.
John Paul Jones – Led Zeppelin
Hey hey mama gonna make you move. JP never quite seems to get the kudos afforded fellow mudshark incident survivors Page and Plant, but would Kashmir really sound so awesome if it wasn’t for the greatest rhythm section in rock history? Despite hanging out with a post Kyuss Josh Homme a little too much lately, he remains a down with the kids wrinkly talent,
Geezer Butler – Black Sabbath
The heaviest, Loudest member of the band. Oh-the band is Black Sabbath by the way. The awesome moustache and ability to create relevant, amazing albums outside his day job only adds to his brilliance and makes you realise just how far Ozzy really has fallen.
Colin Grigson – Bad News
His name is Colin Grigson,and he gets the fucking night bus home. Only in the band because he owns a PA system, Colin still managed to cobble together the middle eight’s to such all-time classics as ‘masturbike’ and ‘Warriors of Ghengis Khan’,he’s the only one here who’s playing resulted in his throat being slit at a major rock festival. Currently working as deputy branch manager for Crouch End Nat West.
Well, I know I’ve missed some -Les Claypool is up there, and what about That dude from UB40 – You know the one? Alan Partridge likes him? Plays a sort-of watered down reggea? Anyway, I asked some bass players I know and they said he was quite good apparently, and I wouldn’t want to (red,red)whine about including him here – and apparently one of The Beatles played the bass too… let us know if you think of any others (apart from any members of The Clash or The Sex Pistols -they are shit)