Famous Bass Guitar Players
Since the birth of electric rock and roll and the Fender bass guitar in the '50s, an army of amazing bass players have stormed the airwaves. These bass players are some of the most famous.
Paul McCartney, the legendary Beatle bassist and now-solo artist, is a first-rate musician and songwriter whose contributions have influenced generations of young musicians coming up through the ranks. He's pictured here with his famous Hofner.
Jaco Pastorius is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest and most influential bassists that ever lived, although mainstream music fans may not recognize his name. Pastorius passed away in 1987, but young jazz musicians are still learning from his musical legacy.
Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins is a legend in his own time. His outrageous sense of fashion is only surpassed by his ability to lay down a funky bass line. When Bootsy plays bass, he is the lead guitarist.
Duff McKagan perfected his aggressive playing style in a bevy of punk rock bands before hooking up as the bassist for Guns 'N Roses and Velvet Revolver. For recording, Duff prefers to use his trusty Fender Jazz Special.
Verdine White's playing provided the backbone for Earth, Wind & Fire's many hits. In addition to his outstanding skills, White is also a consummate showman. Every time he plays, the party kicks into high gear.
Les Claypool's playing style is just about as diverse as it gets. The Primus bass man combines a variety of techniques including slapping, tapping, and strumming to produce his funk, metal, and experimental sounds.
Queen bassist John Deacon, pictured far left, is one of the most unassuming yet talented bass players in the world. He definitely has an ear for a great hook; after all, he wrote Queen's smash hit Another One Bites the Dust. This song contains what is arguably the most recognizable bass line in music today.
Female bass players seem to be in the minority, but Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon is heralded as one of the pioneers of alternative rock for her bold use of alternate tunings and creative song structures.
Former bassist for The Who, John Entwhistle, was affectionately referred to as "Thunder Fingers." He pioneered the concept of bass solos in rock music. Sadly, Entwhistle passed away in 2002, but his musical influence lives on.
Gene Simmons, the bass player for KISS, is known as much for his showmanship as he is for his solid bass playing. Few bass players have achieved as much fame as this musician or put on such memorable shows.
As a gifted solo artist vocalist and a virtuosic bass player, Esperanza Spalding has taken the music world by storm. She has received critical acclaim across the board from the New York Times to Ebony magazine.
The iconic bass player for the equally iconic Los Angeles-based band Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea is especially known for his tasteful bass playing. He can perform complex slap bass grooves or lay back into quiet supporting whole notes, and he knows exactly what style of playing the song needs.
As the bass player for a band of mythic proportions, Adam Clayton has become an instantly recognizable face in the music world. His steady, artful bass grooves have helped keep U2's music fresh since the late '70s when the band formed.
Tina Weymouth's innovative self-taught bass playing style in Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club has made her iconic in rock music history. She helped define the new wave sound that made Talking Heads one of the most legendary bands of the '70s and '80s.
Setting the Foundation
A great bass player is foundational in all types of music, from jazz to rock n' roll. With greats from all genres and bassists from all around the world, these players and many others enhance the music they play with an expert bass line.