10. Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
If you need a definition of who Paul McCartney is, you have probably lived under a rock for too long. One of the Fab 4, Sir Paul’s contributions to the Beatles is as obvious as anything. As a song writer, as a singer and most definitely as a bass player. He helped push the instrument to a whole other direction and if you don’t believe that, well you don’t listen to rock.
Highlight Tracks: All of Revolver, Taxman, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Come together.
9. Sting (the Police)
Highlight Tracks: Roxanne, Walking in your Footsteps, So Lonely, Next to you, Demolition Man, Spirits in a Material World, Canary in a coal mine
8. Justin Chancellor (Tool)
All members of Tool are freaks. Justin Chancellor is no exception being a very, very, very gifted instrumentalist that has helped put Tool on the map as “that band that plays too good”. Though Justin’s talents are not as freakishly freaky as Danny Carey’s, his contributions to the rhythm of the band, his inventive playing, and the sheer dreary beauty of the aural landscape he paints with the bass are more than enough reason to pay much respect.
Highlight Tracks: Schism, Wings for Marie Pts 1 and 2, Right in Two, Forty Six and 2, Aenima, Pushit
7. Jack Bruce (Cream)
Before the implosion of Cream, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker produced some of the best music known to rock. A talented bass player and a hell of a singer, Bruce was never modest and he really didn’t have to be, because when you’re that good and you influence that many people, you get Carte Blanche to do whatever it is you want to do.
Highlight Tracks: Sunshine of Your Love, White Room, I Feel Free, NSU, Swlabr, We’re Going Wrong
6. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
What bass player list is complete without the mention of Flea in the Top 10? When it all comes down to the wire, the magic between Flea and his band mates stems often enough from his groove. Seriously, what would Anthony Kiedis’ riffs be without the funky combustion of Flea pushing him along the way in unison. I’m not saying Flea is Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I will say that The Chili Peppers without Flea would be lacking a whole lot of Red Hot.
Highlight Tracks: Danny California, Give it Away, Hump De Bump, Around the World, The Power of Equality, Blood Sugar Sex Magik
5. Geddy Lee (Rush)
Power, melody, dynamics and more power. That’s Geddy Lee’s bass playing summed up in 4 words. And power does count as two. With a career spanning over three decades, the tight riffs keep on coming and the entire band, though aging, shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. Sure you might have complaints of his singing voice, but last I checked, not a single person complained about his bass playing.
Highlight Tracks: Driven, YYZ, 2112, Anthem, Bastille Day, Closer to the Heart, La Villa Strangiato, New World Man
4. John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin, Them Crooked Vultures)
Highlight Tracks: Trampled Under Foot, Dazed and Confused, Elephant, Black Dog, Caligulove
3. Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel)
One damn fine user of the Chapman Stick and inventor of the Funk Fingers, Tony Levin’s contributions to all things bass are simply astounding to behold. Playing in King Crimson, you can’t help but marvel at the sound that band makes and at the contributions of Maestro Levin. As if that weren’t enough, he’s probably helped Peter Gabriel be as big as he is by giving Gabriel’s sonic landscapes the touch of a master.
Highlight Tracks: Anything with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel or Liquid Tension Experiment
2. Les Claypool (Primus)
Les Claypool is officially one of the craziest musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to. Rhyming like a crazy guy from the bayou, he also one of the greatest bass players of all time. There’s always that debate whether Metallica didn’t hire him because he was too good, or because he was too out there. I for one just think that he was both. To try and describe him, imagine a Seussian acid trip expressed through a bass, then put the tape at full speed. If you need something a little less cryptic, just consider this one of the most talented and inventive musicians I’ve ever heard.
Highlight Tracks: Southbound Pachyderm, Jerry Was a Race Car Driver, Mr. Krinkle, my Name is Mud, Fish On, Over the Electric Grapevine
1. John Entwhistle (The Who)
When you have Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and Keith Moon as band mates, you really don’t have to, and probably shouldn’t move that much. The Ox was never a jumping bean on stage like Flea or other people on this list. He just stood there and proceeded to rip the crap out of his bass, changing the way people see the bass and refusing to just be a simple member of the rhythm section. What people don’t know is that there is a reason why he didn’t move that much on stage and it’s actually pretty basic… When you’re a force of nature, nothing can move you.
Highlight Tracks: 5:15, Boris the Spider, Dr. Jimmy, Water, My Generation
Obligatory Top of the Charts mention:
I did not include Jaco on this list because it’s almost unfair to include him on a list with other humans. A jazz bass player that had everyone scratching his head with what he was doing, Jaco showed the world what it would sound like if God or the Devil picked up a bass and played… the curious thing is that often times it sounded as if there was a bit of both thrown into the mix.
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