It’s my 50th blog post, so let’s celebrate! Here is a list of people who wield my favourite and the most overlooked instrument ever, the bass guitar. So let’s get deep. Let’s get funky!
10) Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead) – A legend, the epitome of a rockstar and one of the most influential bass players around. Not only did Lemmy pave the way for Motörhead by fronting them with his grizzly vocals but he also showed us how to thrash a bass around. This Rock ‘n’ Roll bass player inadvertently influenced a whole genre of rock, punk, hardcore and metal musicians to play it loud and play it fast!
9) Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) – Do you know who played bass for arguably the first metal band ever? If the answer to this question is yes, then you know Geezer Butler would be on this list somewhere. Tuning down match Tony Iommi’s dark guitar tone and incorporating a wah pedal to create such huge bass riffs as N.I.B and Iron Man. It is easy to see why he and his band became one of the biggest things in the music industry.
8) Troy Sanders (Mastodon) – Oh Mastodon you never fail to disappoint. Whether it is their heavy beginnings or their later stoner/sludge albums, you know it’s going to be good if it has Mastodon stamped somewhere. Troy Sanders plays bass as well as sharing vocal duties with two other band mates. That’s right three out of the four members do vocals. So when you have a diverse vocal array you got to have a diverse bass style. Utilises both fingers and picks (let’s not argue over which is better right now, that is a discussion for another day) he creates a variety of tones and bass lines which is handy when each album comprises of so many different sounds.
7) John Entwistle (The Who) – One of England’s finest. The Who took blues, rock and a hit of mod culture to create a band whose career spanned for generations. They also spawned a fine bass player renowned for playing his own style that utilised all four fingers as well as using the full force of volume and treble. To fully appreciate John Entwistle all you have to do is listen to his bridges/solos in My Generation. Its big, melodic and full of flair.
6) Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) – To anyone who says bass isn’t important you should really check out Iron Maiden without bassist Steve Harris. It isn’t nearly as epic and lacks so much power without this guy laying down the bass. Famous for riffs such as Wraithchild and Hooks In You, he has cemented himself in heavy metal history as one of the greats. Oh yeah not to mention his signature on stage bass rifle move. It’s a classic.
5) Justin Chancellor (Tool) – Get your calculators out children, its prog time! Tool are one of those bands who are instantly recognisable. Helping them out with this is bassist Justin Chancellor whose heavy bass driven riffs sometimes out shine guitarist Adam Jones (a rarity I know). Songs such as Forty Six & 2 and The Pot show off his style of playing with countless hammer ons, pull offs and bends.
4) John Campbell (Lamb of God) – Play bass they said. It’s easy they said… Oh, unless you want to play some Lamb of God… I don’t know how John Campbell does it. He riffs alongside some of the most insane guitarist in metal. Not satisfied with simply playing half tempo or hammering down on single notes, he instead follows the guitars to pin point accuracy. If you know your Lamb of God you know just how hard this feat is. It seems every member of this band riffs as well as the next.
3) Chris Batten (Enter Shikari) – Not your average bass player, but then again Enter Shikari aren’t your average band. Chris Batten takes styles from a wealth of genres to create a unique style. You can hear jazz, funk, metal, post-hardcore, punk and even hip-hop and EDM in this guys sound. From bouncy calm riffs from songs like The Jester. To the jumpy electronic driven breakdowns of Mothership and outburst of hardcore at the end of Anaesthetist all basses (excuse the pun) are covered. And boy! They masterfully covered at that!
2) Geddy Lee (Rush) – Canadian prog rock pioneers Rush are a fantastic band. If I don’t want to fill my ears with anything too heavy, they are one of my first points of call. Is it the incredible songwritting? Maybe. Is it the bass of Geddy Lee? Most definitely. I am constantly amazed by his skill on the instrument. Not only does he front the band, he also lays down thick rhymes whilst ding so. Geddy Lee’s bass is an essential key to the bands sound.
1) Jaye R Schwarzer (Cancer Bats) – This guy would have made the list for tone alone. It’s beasty, chunky and sounds like a muscle car tearing up the road. This combined with his play style make him a true list topping candidate. Jaye R Schwarzer style has both the fast, thrashing aggression of hardcore and the head banging bounce of sludge metal. Songs like Old Blood, Smiling Politely and Cancer Bats cover of Sabotage by the Beastie Boys show off his skill at bringing out the huge sound of a bass.
I have cited these bassists from where I heard them from, I know some have played in multiple bands.
This list was hard to compile so here are some Honourable Mentions:
Jerry Only (Misfits), Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse), Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine), Cliff Burton (Metallica), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Robert Trujillo (Metallica), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Bruce Foxton (The Jam),Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Captain Sensible (The Damned), Paul Simonon (The Clash), Alex Dean (Architects), Aaran McKenzie (While She Sleeps