This article is going to become a top 10. The last 2 spots on this list will be added from a tally of the FB comments and the comments here. But, please keep in mind, we’re looking at Rock Bassists only, this does rule out the likes of Pastorius and Wooten. Save them for the best bassists of all time poll. We’ll be counting up at the end of the month.
Here’s our round up of some of the best players rock music has to offer, we’re not counting this list as complete untill you’ve had your say on the final 2. This is in no particular order.
Flea – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Now here is a bass player who knows his stuff. And no top basists list would be complete without him. Unlike Novoselic, Flea likes to show off his skills and in the Red Hot Chili Peppers this works great! The music is more complex than Nirvana and this is what the band is all about. They are not a three-chord grunge band but a funk inspired rock act, with a stage performance to match.
Generally considered to be the greatest bass player in rock and roll history, Flea considers his own playing to be “simple”, claiming his philosophy is less is more. That said he plays some impressive sounding slap bass progressions. Just listen to the break down towards the end of By the Way where flea takes the lead with a scorching slap bass solo.
John Paul Jones – Led Zeppelin
Keeping up with the musical mastery of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Bonham requires genius of equal measure and John Paul Jones with certainly the bassist for the job! Nothing less than pure brilliance would suffice to be part of Led Zeppelin and John Paul Jones offered just that.
Playing deceptively difficult bass lines, John Paul Jones was able to keep up with the insane drumming of The Beast (John Bonham) to make Led Zeppelins rhythm section an absolute power house capable of the most intricate feats of musicianship.
Dirk Lance – Incubus (previously)
Dirk Lance or Alex Katunich is impressive both technically and in terms of creating an awesome vibe. There’s simply no way Incubus would’ve been the same without him. True he has since been replaced in the line up, but he was there for a lot of their best work. That’s not to say we have anything against his replacement Ben Kennedy (he could arguably make the list), but here Incubus best work was done with Dirk.
Chris Novoselic – Nirvana
This guy sure plays a lot of very simple bass lines, there’s nothing particularly fancy going on, that’s for sure, but man does it sound good! Novoselic’s bass works in perfect harmony with the powerful, rhythmic drumming of Dave Grohl, creating a synergy that gave strength and muscle to Nirvana’s music.
The sign of a good musician is when they know just how much is required of them. They don’t over do it and they don’t under play it. They focus on the overall sound and not on showing off their talent. Novoselic’s bass playing epitomises this, particularly on Nevermind. We should note he is by no means the most talented bassist on this list, but he is possibly the most underrated.
Paul McCartney – The Beatles
McCartney is another bassist, like Novoselic, who knew that he had to keep it simple. Yet though simple, his bass lines are pure genius. The master of melody and the god of grooves, McCartney’s bass playing gives the simple songs of the Beatles an edge. Just listen to Come Together, it’s his bass melody that makes the song! And you have to keep in mind that McCartney did an impact beyond the bass itself and is certainly a talented artist all around.
Terence Michael Joseph “Geezer” Butler – Black Sabbath
Well, he pretty much invented heavy metal bass playing, which earns him a place on this list! Perhaps the likes of Cliff Burton from Metallica or Lemmy from Motorhead are arguably better bassists but they’d be nothing without Geezer Butler!
Geezer was probably the first bass player in rock to down tune his bass to give it a deeper, heavier feel that provides heavy metal with it’s ferocious dark energy. Not only that, but he also started using a wah-wah pedal with his bass, previously only used by guitarists in popular music. His contribution then is all together innovative and inspirational to an entire genre.
Les Claypool – Primus
It would be a crime to leave Les Claypool off any top bassist list, he manages to create something of an out there sound and it really works. This is the man that was “too good for Metalica” (Hetfields words not his) and someone who creates an interesting a unique vibe essentially being the life blood of Primus.
Geddy Lee – Rush
Originally we missed Geddy off the list – this was a complete oversight. And a mistake. So by your demand he’s here! Geddy uses unorthodox bass technique which is part of what makes his sound great. Rush would simply not exist without this mans talent.
Pete Wentz – FOB
The fall out boy bassist Pete Wentz is j…… (Just kidding)
Did we miss anyone who you think NEEDS to be on this list? Maybe your favorite bassist? Let us know.
We are listening and we’ve added Geddy!