Best bassists

After a really good discussion about drummers a few weeks ago (thank you all very much for adding to it), how about the best bass players?

I know, I know. Difficult. Divisive. Just list your favourites, if you want to.

As today is Mark King’s birthday, here he is proving why he should rank highly on such a poll, explaining one of the techniques that puts him there.

A few more talented bass players that, I believe, should occupy positions in a suitably-titled Top Ten (strictly in alphabetical order, I’m not stupid) are:

– Jack Bruce (Cream)
– Larry Graham (Sly & The Family Stone)
– Geddy Lee (Rush)
– Lemmy (Motörhead)
– John Myung (Dream Theater)

Two of the above-mentioned, you may also have noticed (in which case, you might want to take the advice that I’ve just given myself upon such realisation and get a life!), appeared with David on that cherished French & Saunders comedy sketch.

I haven’t overlooked the many fine players with whom David has frequently shared stages, studios and session musician acknowledgements down the years (thinking mainly of Guy Pratt, of course, as well as Cardiff’s finest, Pino Palladino). Examples of what you consider to be their best work would be especially nice to read about.

By the way, if you missed them, there are a few bass-related answers from Guy in response to the questions that you put to him back in 2006 – here.

If mouse-clicking and -dragging is all your cold fingers can manage on this chilly October afternoon, here’s the NME’s latest poll, should you wish to contribute to it. As soon as you vote for one by choosing how many stars he or she deserves, another will follow. Stick with it; I don’t know who many of them are either, but the ones you’re most likely to be thinking of will appear soon enough (although, at the time of writing, there is an embarrassing misspelling of the name you’re probably waiting for with most curiosity).

You might want to do what I did: keep going until boredom sets in, then shamefully realise that you’ve ruined the results because you’ve been giving mediocre ratings to the ones you don’t know just because you don’t know them.

Sorry, NME.

If you do know some of the younger, hairier, more tattooed, pierced and masked bassists featured in the NME poll, and are familiar with their work, please recommend a track or two that best represents them for the rest of us to try.

If you don’t know of Nicky Wire, for example, have a listen to ‘Archives of Pain’ by the Manic Street Preachers; that begins with an eerie and infectious bass line.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

111 thoughts on “Best bassists”

  1. Hands down, best bass player is John Entwistle. Geddy Lee is not too bad either.

    I am not a fan of Mark King at all. I saw Level 42 in concert once and nearly went to sleep. BTW, I did not pay for the ticket, I just went with my friend who invited me.

    I will always love Roger’s bass playing, especially in the early Floyd days i.e. 68-77 and even though Careful with that Axe, Eugene, is a simple bass line, I just love it to bits. I think the octave that Roger uses in that is know as the “Devil Chords”.

    Has anybody else heard of that phrase for the octave style bass playing? I cannot find the source at the moment.

    1. I think the octave that Roger uses in that is know as the “Devil Chords”.

      Has anybody else heard of that phrase for the octave style bass playing? I cannot find the source at the moment.

      Hi Julie,

      I don’t know about the particular bass line you’re talking about, but “Devil chords” makes me think about this.

      I also can’t find the source right now, but I read somewhere that the sequence of four guitar notes from “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” are an example of Diabolus in Musica.

      Have you ever heard about it?

  2. Hi.

    Hmm, tough one, and I know it’s a rock blog but Funk players would definitely have to be high up on the list.

    My list (endless) but would comprise of (in no particular order):

    Ron Carter: Anything by the Headhunters but I recommend people listen to Shiftless Shuffle (Mr Hands/Herbie Hancock).

    Bernard Edwards: Everything he’s ever recorded, copied/sampled a ridiculous number of times in lots of different genres too from rock (Queen) to hiphop (too many to mention). I Want Your Love (C’est Chic/Chic).

    Rick Laird: Genius of the low notes in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Vital Transformation (The Inner Mounting Flame/The Mahavishnu Orchestra).

    Chris Squire: Yes Bassplayer, virtuoso soloist and solid background guy too. Yours Is No Disgrace (The Yes Album/Yes).

    John Paul Jones: No explanation required!

    Too many others, Geddy, John Entwistle, Flea, Mark King… I think I’d better stop here…

    Hope people check out my choices! Great blog BTW.

  3. PS: Oops, one more for longevity, virtuosity, solidness…

    Bootsy Collins… Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (45rpm – yep, showing my age)/ James Brown… 🙂

  4. Hi all,

    So bass players, huh? I like Guy a lot, and having the privilege to meet him just made that stronger. My dad plays bass, so I wouldn’t want to leave him out. 😉

    I really like the job Chucho Merchan did with David on the ‘In Concert’ DVD. That’s my favorite version of Dominoes I’ve ever heard David play and it’s because of that killer bass behind him.


    Marcus and I found out yesterday that we will be having a little boy! James David Buick will make his way into the world in the middle of March. We’re very excited, and we wanted to share our news with our little family here.

    Peace and Love to you all!!


    1. James David… our future bartender at the Barn in the chatroom, let’s say, in 2028?

      Take care, Erin. 🙂

  5. Pingback:
    1. Can someone explain the purpose of these posts? I see these pop up now and then in a blog entry and I am still trying to figure out exactly what it is trying to tell me and why?



    2. If someone includes a link to The Blog on their blog or, in this case, on Twitter, it’s just a way of letting everyone know about it.

  6. John Entwistle
    David Gilmour
    Steve Harris
    Pino Palladino
    Guy Pratt
    Paul McCartney

    I think I have to stop here. The list would become too long. 😉

    Best regards

  7. John Entwistle. I can listen to just his bass tracks and go 8| because it’s MENTAL but absolutely brilliant. Is he not the owner of the best bass solo there is on My Generation? Well, one of the best.

    But he did things with the bass that were wrong. Nobody like him.

    And… Jack Bruce, John Paul Jones, Nikki Sixx, LEMMY, John Deacon, Roger Glover, Bootsy Collins, Steve Harris, Jason Newsted, Robert Trujillo, Ian Hill (you can question the metal guys but just keeping from being overwhelmed by all those guitars is a huge deal) Larry Graham, Sting (The Police era particularly on Synchronicity) and whoever played bass on The Temptations “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”. That’s one of the most merciless, ominous bass riffs I can think of, though credit goes more to the arranger than the player. I salute you.

    1. James Jamerson maybe on Papa Was A Rolling Stone. One of the great R&B guys of all time. 🙂

  8. Best (aka favorite) bassists:

    1. John Entwistle
    2. Geddy Lee (Rush)
    3. Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs/Steve Morse Band/Joe Satriani)
    4. Les Claypool (Primus)
    5. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
    6. Ronnie Lane (Small Faces/Faces)
    7. John Paul Jones (Zepp)
    8. Mike Watt (minutemen)
    9. Tony Levin (Crimson, Gabriel, who doesn’t he play with!)
    10. John Wetton
    11) Greg Lake

    OK, I could go on but the results will yield a detour from my favorites to just bass players I like…


  9. I bought the Jimmy Nail album you mentioned a while back just for Guy’s playing and wasn’t let down… some damn funky playing on it along with David and Gary Moore.

    Pino’s playing on the first Paul Young’s fist album lifted the bar… really nice playing.

    Tal Wilkenfeld who now plays with Jeff Beck is a young lady on the up.

    John Entwistle’s playing even in the early days was a different level!

    No beach ball jokes yet???

  10. You might want to do what I did: keep going until boredom sets in, then shamefully realise that you’ve ruined the results because you’ve been giving mediocre ratings to the ones you don’t know just because you don’t know them.

    :)) That’s what I did, too.

    It’s quite absurd that it’s impossible to skip the names you don’t know.

    Then, apart from the embarrassing misspelling you were talking about, Steve Harris features twice in the list… or am I going wrong? 8|

    Some of my favourite bassists:

    Guy Pratt
    John Paul Jones
    Geezer Butler
    Tony Levin
    Jack Bruce
    Jaco Pastorius
    Chucho Merchan

  11. John Entwistle is my favourite by far! Gotta love The Ox!

    It strikes me as odd that my favourite drummer is from The Who, my favourite bassist is from The Who and my favourite vocalist is from The Who, but unfortunately, Townshend doesn’t quite make my favourite guitarist… He’s incredible, sure enough, but he’s just not incredible enough!

    The Who aren’t my quite my favourite band, either, but they had one hell of a talented line-up! 😀

  12. there’s plenty of fantastic bass monsters out there. jon wetton when he was in king crimson in the early 70s was phenomenal.

    jimi goodwin from doves is an amazing bass player, who not only sings, but plays his bass upside down.

    you may not have heard of jim robertson yet, from nyc’s hollands, but he might be the best new bassist around. funky and jazzy, but adaptable to any setting, this kid is amazing. just listen to strong arm, or over and out. you’ll see what i mean.

    even though he’s traditionally a guitarist, dean ween has some serious bass chops.

    there’s some you may not have thought of.


  13. Oh, good topic FEd.

    Of course, it’s hard find a favourite bassists list but I can try. 🙂

    I like Mark King because he has a unique style when he plays.

    Then, I can hear a good bass player on this song “Cash Machine” by Hard-Fi.

    Fortunately there’s also a female bassist, Tal Wilkenfeld 😀 who collaborated with great artists like Chick Corea, Jeff Beck etc. I like her, and I hope there will be other female bassists in the future.

    Have a nice day.

    Bye, Hydrea

  14. The best bass player? 😐

    In my mind it’s Gustavo Dal Farra. 🙂

    You don’t know Gustavo Dal Farra? Take a look here.

  15. I have to mention Sting. But to me the greatest bass player is Les Claypool. He is so innovative. I will provide some links later but aside from his work with Primus where I recommend the Sailing the Seas of Cheese release, check out the Oysterhead release.

    Oysterhead was a project he did along with Trey Anastasio of Phish and Stewart Copeland of the Police. It is definitely worth the listen.

    Also, honorable mention goes to Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big.



    1. I have to agree on Les Claypool as being a worthy top 5 selection.

      However, I think you are overlooking one of the more obvious choices in the Les Claypool canon, Live Frogs from Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade! (For those who are unfamiliar, it has both Shine On You Crazy Diamond and a runthrough of the entire Animals album.)

      Others in my top 5:

      Jah Wobble (I’m surprised no one else has mentioned him yet)
      Geddy Lee
      John Entwistle
      Chris Squire

    2. I am very familiar with the Frog Brigade. Excellent project of his. Not very easy to find but a good call.



  16. Well, it’s hard. But John “Thunderfinger” Entwistle and Roger Waters must share the podium.

  17. My favorite Bass players in no particular order are:

    John Entwhistle – the Who
    Jack Bruce – Cream
    Joe Bouchard – Blue Oyster Cult
    Mel Schacher – Grand Funk Railroad
    John Paul Jones – Led Zeppelin
    Lemmy – Motorhead & Hawkwind (especially liked his Hawkwind days)
    Amy Humphrey – Clatter
    Paul McCartney – the Beatles
    Chris Squire – Yes
    Guy Pratt – Pink Floyd/David Gilmour

    I could go on but these are my favs.


  18. Yes, Chris Squire, very good and a good sense of humour – do all bass players have this?


  19. Difficult to distinquish a good bass player from one who happens to play bass in a band you like…

    I think we have to acknowledge Paul McCartney – his melodic bass style with the Beatles pushed a lot of boundaries and underpinned much of their greatness.

    As with drummers, the bass players that I go for play around the rhythm as well as maintaining the structure of the song… Roger Glover of Deep Purple Mk II is a fine example of that, JPJ of Led Zep also.

    Whilst not principally know as a rhythm band, there’s also some great bass work on OK Computer by Radiohead. Just check out the intro to “Lucky”, a beautiful warm tone.

    …and raise a glass to reggae players everywhere.

  20. Tony Levin (with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel) is an incredible bassist. He also lends his considerable talent to Floyd’s MLoR album.

    Chris Squire of Yes is also an incredible musician. For those who doubt, listen to anything from The Yes Album, Fragile, or Close to the Edge. Relayer is another place where he shows us what he’s got.

    Geddy Lee is also in that league. Rush wouldn’t be the band it is today without his distinctive playing.

    Then there’s some Guy named Pratt who I heard some place along the line…

    Who else…? Laura Love is pretty handy with the bass, as is Cheryl Crow. Greg Lake is capable of blowing the roof off of a house. Roger? Well, let’s just say he had something to do with Pink Floyd’s incredible success.

  21. Some of my favourite bass players:

    Paul McCartney
    David Gilmour (!)
    Guy Pratt
    Roger Waters…

  22. Definetly Pino, what a class act and so cool to watch.

    The names mentioned above are self explanatory for sure.

    Chris Squire, Geddy Lee (his vocals drives me off the deep end though).

    Well, you have to include Roger, right!

    Paul is a shoe in.

    How about David Sir? Didn’t he fill in bass lines for the band when he had the time to fill wasted time on you know who. I think. Therefore I’m not! 😛

  23. In no particular order,

    Guy Pratt (didn’t they do well?)
    John Entwistle
    John Paul Jones
    Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel band, King Crimson, etc.)
    Mike Rutherford (Specifically, “In the Cage”)
    Cliff Burton (Metallica)
    Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
    Chris Wolstenholme (Muse)
    Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave)
    Justin Chancellor (Tool)
    Lemmy Kilmister
    Adam Clayton (U2) (Specifically, “Bullet the Blue Sky”)
    John McVie (Fleetwood Mac)
    Tim Rice-Oxley (Keane, say what you want about the band but they have some wicked bass lines)

  24. Bass players are often overshadowed by guitarists on stage, we always notice/admire the ‘Guitar God’, rarely the bassist. Not fair…

    I think that Tony Levin is a very good and innovative bassist (with Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, also with Pink Floyd on ‘A Momentary Lapse Of Reason’).

    Also Simon Gallup (The Cure), Chris Wolstenholme (Muse).

    I heard that David himself is a good bass player. I know he played bass on several PF albums.

    I found this video. 😕

    And how about female bass players? Why not?

    I would mention Melissa Auf Der Maur, I think she rocks! 😉

    Watch her here.


  25. If you ever want to see a smokin’ music duo, Jack Bruce and Peter Frampton doing Sunshine of Your Love – it was part of the Ringo Starr tour.

    It was great and it shows you that Jack Bruce is the Boss when it comes to the bass guitar.

    Watch it and you’ll know what I mean.

  26. Off topic again, but with Robbie Williams performing tonite in the London Roundhouse and having that gig live streamed to cinemas worldwide, it appears to me that more and more artists are copying David’s idea from his RTN premiere in the Odeon 2 years ago, except that this wasn’t streamed live via internet, right?

    So David had a strike of genius idea and served as a trendsetter for shows like that, I only wish it would be mentioned in the media that he was the first one to come up with that idea.

    Off to 2 days of London tomorrow, certainly I will be thinking of that wonderful Odeon event when being back in London, I might be even a little melancholic as there is no David event in sight, or is there?

  27. Top of my list is Geddy Lee, he’s the first person who really made me sit up and notice the bass.

    Other’s worth a mention:-

    Tony Levin – obviously as a session player, but more for his work in King Crimson, with Peter Gabriel and his solo work.

    Michael Manring – his solo work is great, and the stuff he did with the legendary (and unfortunately late) Michael Hedges is also work checking out.

    Les Claypool – Primus are one of the few bands I can think of where bass is the lead instrument. Of course Les Claypool has also released a cover album of Pink Floyd’s Animals, and a cover of Have A Cigar on their ‘Miscellaneous Debris’ EP, so obviously a man of taste too. 🙂

    Jonas Hellborg
    Victor Wooten
    Stanley Clarke
    Stuart Hamm (probably best known for working with Joe Satriani)
    Chris Squire

    And for some unusual bass playing, check out Peter Steele (Type O Negative) in this track.

  28. I love Tony Levin; he’s so creative and inventive (literally, he has invented several instruments and techniques).

    Here he is playing with the California Guitar Trio–a very subtle bit of bass playing.

    From what I understand, Tony has done some session work with Pink Floyd, but I don’t know what song(s) he played on. Does anyone know?

  29. All the ones you mentioned FEd, and…

    Jaco Pastorius
    John Entwistle

    Happy Birthday to the awesome Mark King and thanks for sharing!

  30. In no particular order, but my faves:

    – Jaco! (Solo and Weather Report – the mighty Mr Pastorius has to feature on anyone’s greatest bass players IMHO)

    – Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

    – Les Claypool (Primus)

    – Paul McCartney (Beatles, Wings, solo)

    – Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)

    – Bootsy Collins (Parliament, Funkadelic, solo)

  31. Good night, peoples in the world. Good night David Gilmour and family.

    I’m a Brazilian man and my wife and my sons, we like David, Pink Floyd music a long time.

    Please, I hope David will be performing a music show in Brazil.

    Thank you. 😀

  32. Good bass players, all the above and below of course.

    That guy playing bass with Roger on “One Of These Days”.

    Chucho Merchan was good in “DG in concert”.

    Wille Weeks and Red Callender sound good on “Rickie Lee Jones”.

    I vote for Guy.

  33. Paul McCartney – an obvious choice, but for good reason.

    John Paul Jones – I usually wouldn’t listen to a song like “The Lemon Song” more than a few times but his playing and the number of great ideas blows me away.

    …and just for the sake of having someone less known:

    Ralphie Armstrong – I’ve been listening to Jean-Luc Ponty’s “Cosmic Messenger” CD lately and Ralphie’s playing is pretty tasty – as in flashy AND tasty!

  34. John Entwistle for me.

    However, Paul McCartney wasn’t too bad either and Sting could play too!


  35. Argh, a tough one… bassplayers often have a more secluded position in bands? However, there are a few basslines that pop up in my mind, perhaps a bit funky:

    The bassline in Hit Me With Your Rythmstick/Ian Dury, always made me smile… a quick “google” shows a name called Norman Watt Roy.

    And another is: Give It Away/Red Hot Chili Peppers… that bassplayer I already knew, Flea (daughter is a big fan). So energetic, I think.

    In a totally different line of music, there was a (I believe) famous Danish bassplayer, Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen (NHØP), however he was mainly a jazz musician. Here is an example of what he did, if anyone likes jazz.

    Have a good week.

    1. If you like jazz, here is a solo by Charles Mingus.

      Even though I don’t know very much about jazz music, he sounds great to me.

  36. I really like the work of Gail Ann Dorsey with David Bowie. Darryl Jones, especially when he played with Miles Davis, and of course Guy Pratt.


  37. Some excellent bass players:

    Chris Squire (Yes)
    Greg Lake (King Crimson/Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
    John Entwistle (The Who)
    David Gilmour*
    Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd/David Gilmour)
    Mattew Bellamy* (Muse)

    * I know these guys are usually guitarists but they do some great bass work too. 😛

  38. Hmmm, I honestly don’t know that many bass players. That bloke from Muse (Chris something?) is quite good. Hysteria is wonderful in its eccentricity, much like many other Muse songs. That said I haven’t heard the new album yet.

    Of course, I totally rate Roger. Not technically great, but he has a unique sound that brings much to every PF record.

    I also like Flea’s funk-outs.

    Brownie points for those who can guess what bass line this is:

    Dumm, da da daa, da da, da da daa, dumm. Clue: think sport.

    Take care y’all.
    x x x

  39. Tony Levin, who else?

    Ah indeed we have to mention Pino Palladino (who did a lot work together with David).

    In the prog scene there is guy called John Jowitt, he plays in a lot of bands, IQ, Jadis, Frost, John Wetton, Arena, ProgAid and and… He’s cool.

    Nick Beggs, from Kajagogoo and later in Iona, Howard Jones and others.

    And I’m really happy that Guy Pratt have done some session work for Yogi Lang, the leadsinger of one of my favourite bands of the last decade; RPWL.

    David Gilmour? :v

  40. Like many, John Entwistle was the first name that came to mind. I also quickly came around to thinking of all the different bass players to have passed through King Crimson.

    However after thinking about it for a while Leo Lyons of ‘Ten Years After’ came to mind.

    Amazing player who, if you ever saw him live, left you breathless.

  41. Another who springs to mind is:

    Hugh Hopper – Soft Machine

    Very inventive and wrote some fabulous music.

  42. Hi All,

    Don’t forget Jah Wobble and the great Robbie Shakespeare. Both masters of the bass.

  43. Without a shadow of a doubt Geddy Lee is the 4 string man!

    Notice there’s a guy called Roger Walters in the NME poll? Is he a new kid on the block???

  44. Paul McCartney has to be my favorite but the rest are in no particular order.

    Roger Waters – I really don’t know what went wrong and don’t want to but he’s always one of my favs.

    Guy Pratt has done a magnificent job replacing Roger and I’m continuously amazed at his skills listening to Live in Gdansk.

    Bootsy Collins – I used to listen to Parliament all the time in High School and still enjoy that pop on the bass.

    John Paul Jones – Led Zeppelin was one of my favs in College.

    Geddy Lee from Rush. I listened to Rush and still crazy about the 2112.

    Larry Graham. Thank you for lett’n me be myself, again…

    Mark King – That was pretty awesome.

    David Gilmour – The best is best at everything.

    Asher Quincy Waren – My son, for musical and sentimental reasons. He prefers the five string although I’ve bought him a few four strings. He’s been in several bands though none have made the scene.

    Cliff Burton from Metallica is also an awesome bassist.

    Another thought provoking Blog! 😀

  45. Derek Smalls pretty much invented the instrument, and actually counts as the greatest two bassists because of the double neck.

    Secondary to him would be: Geddy Lee, John Entwistle, anyone who ever played in Yes or King Crimson, whoever played on “Call Me Al” (by Paul Simon), Guy Pratt, David (when busy winning awards for Roger), I haven’t heard much by Mark King, but what I heard was good, Flea, Justin Chancellor, whoever did the live bass bits on “I Feel For You” (by Chaka Khan), Pete Trewavas (Marillion), and John Taylor of Duran Duran (don’t laugh, he can play).

    Although I love Pink Floyd, I can’t bring myself to put Roger on this list, but maybe he should get an honorable mention for the bit near the end of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” where it sounds like he’s playing some kind of scales.

    1. It was probably David playing Bass on the album! (He is known to have played Bass on the Floyd albums as well as all the guitar parts.)


  46. Ignoring the Pink Floyd two, the first bassists who spring to mind are John Entwistle, Jean Jacques Burnel and Paul McCartney.

    There are lots of other good bass players, and I’m surprised at some of the ones that NME thought of. Although I’d have probably forgotten about her if I hadn’t done the test, Tina Weymouth’s bass was always a key part of the Talking Heads sound. Peter Hook is another good example of how bass players can get attention simply by playing their instrument well (and I’m sure most of the Editors will agree with me on that one).

    As for the spelling mistake on the NME poll, I can’t say as I’m surprised to be honest. Having said that, I was taken aback when I saw what they listed as his best bass line. I’d have put good money on them picking, err… Money (‘xcuse the pun). But hey, what do I know? Or more importantly, what do NME know?

  47. David Gilmour (of course) 8)

    Pino Palladino
    Guy Pratt
    Geezer Butler
    Jorgen Carlsson (Gov’t Mule, what a fantastic blues-rock band)
    Roger Waters
    Tony Levin
    Kai Sichtermann (Ton Steine Scherben)
    Angie Olbrich (Carambolage, Scherbenfamily)

  48. My fave bass players are Chris Squire (Yes) and Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings).

    Waters? Hahahahaha. :)) He only wishes he could play bass. Why else is David Gilmour playing so many bass parts on the Floyd-albums?

  49. Dan Lavery – Tonic (GREAT band)
    Adam Jones – ex-Back Door Slam
    James Jamerson – The Funk Brothers (who played on most Motown hits)
    Berry Oakley – Allman Brothers
    Nathan East – Eric Clapton
    Paul McCartney
    Boz Burrell
    John Paul Jones
    John Entwhistle
    Jack Bruce

    …and Roger, of course.

  50. Gotta hand it to Guy… he makes it look so easy!

    Maybe it’s because it is easy? DG did say bass players were 10 a penny… 8|


  51. So here are two videos from Les Claypool and Primus. John the Fisherman, check out his bass in this one. You can see the tremolo bar on it, quite rare for a bass player to have a trem arm on it.

    The second video is one that had quite a bit of airplay on MTV, Jerry Was A Racecar Driver.

    Have you ever seen anyone do what he can with a bass?



  52. Totally forgot to mention Jah Wobble!

    PIL’s Rise is one of my favourite songs ever, and I love Wobble’s bass playing in it… and his solo stuff is brilliant (and diverse!) too.

  53. Hi again!

    Forgive me, if I repeat in my list of bass-players names which have already written down here.

    John Entwistle
    Paul McCartney
    Jack Bruce
    Gordon Sumner (known as Sting)


  54. I think everyone got most of them… the ones I like anyways.

    My two favorites: Charlie Haden and Charles Mingus (very nice link Alessandra!). Jaco is of course a classic! I’m not sure why, but I hold jazz bass players in higher regard than I do rock bassists. It’s really kind of silly though.

    I would also like to bring up Alan Woody, a friend, and when he was with us, played some of the most mean bass ever in Gov’t Mule.

    I met Tony Levin at a Peter Hammill show at Wolfgang’s in ’86 and he is one tall dude!!

    P.S. James David Buick’s middle name was chosen (primarily) for my uncle David who is no longer around. It’s nice that there is a happy coincidence to all this.

    P.S.S. I have a bass, but I don’t claim to play it.

  55. Paul McCartney
    Jack Bruce
    Charles Mingus
    Jaco Pastorius
    Tony Levin
    John Avila
    Percy Jones

  56. Let’s see, living bass players:

    John Deacon of Queen (he provided Queen with the R&B/soul/Motown/Beatles influence, his bass solos on “Liar”, “The Millionaire Waltz”, “Dragon Attack” and of course the two legendary bass riffs out of “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Under Pressure”)

    Mike Rutherford of Genesis (also a proficient guitarist)
    Chris Squire of Yes
    Daryl Stuermer (when touring with Genesis played proficiently)
    Greg Lake
    Geddy Lee (rush)
    Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
    Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report/Phil Collins)
    John Giblin (worked on albums for Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins)
    Pino Palladino
    Ross Valory (Journey, his bass solo on La Do Da on Captured proved he could play good)
    Chuck Panozzo (Styx, his bass playing was excellent and he and his late brother John provided Styx with the killer rhythm section)
    Roger Glover


    John Entwistle
    Cliff Burton
    Jaco Pastorious
    Rick Gretsch
    Boz Burrell

  57. How come when Paul McCartney is mentioned as best bassist, people don’t take issue with it? But if Charlie Watts is mentioned as best drummer it is a controversy?

    Bass and drums lay down the rhythm and some do it better than others. There are certainly some that take their instruments to new levels.

    To me both Paul and Charlie do it very well. So I have no issue with either being on the list because from a pure technical standpoint they are great.



  58. I’ve dropped by a few days late on this subject, but nobody seems to have mentioned Mickey Feat.

    WHO? Mickey Feat, that’s who!

    Back in March 1984, David Gilmour’s second solo album About Face was released, and although Mickey didn’t play Bass on the studio tracks, where Pino Palladino is credited, he sang backing vocals.

    During the live tour in the summer, Mickey Feat played Bass. David played live Hammersmith Odeon in London, July 1984, and one song in particular ‘Murder’ features a Bass Solo which was outstanding, and much superior to the studio track.

    Whilst David always turns out superior work on all of his albums, it’s some of the songs played live where the chemistry of the personnel on the night turns the already excellent into the superlative.

    There is a magic quality to much of David’s music and the Live in Gdansk DVD is no exception. The orchestra adds another dimension, and Ric Wright’s keyboards on Wish You Were Here is how I shall choose to remember that wonderful chap.

    Thanks David for decades of fine music, and all those little extras, including the important behind the scenes moments.

  59. 1. Jack Bruce is my favourite both bass player and singer.

    2. Andy Fraser (Free)… I have never been too crazy about Free but Fraser was “the bass Man”!

    3. Paul Chambers

  60. Hi Folks,

    Sorry I just got home and was waiting for this category. 🙂

    My first is Timothy B. Schmidt (excellent in NY Minute), made me stop and really listen to him. And I must say John McVie–powerful bass lines.

    Of course there are many, but those two are my favs. 😀

  61. Chris Squire (of Yes)
    Steve Rodby (Pat Metheny Group)
    The amazing Guy Pratt
    Tony Levin
    Trey Gunn (with King Crimson)

    …and of course, R.W.

    Greetings from Brazil!

    1. Greetings to You, Caio! My wife is from Brazil, Belo Horizonte to be exact.

      Rock on, my friend, rock on!

  62. Billy Sheehan is one of the greatest bass players of all time and I have heard that he is a really nice man!

  63. Too many to include, but who come to mind are:

    Paul McCartney
    John Entwistle
    Roger Waters
    Chris Squire
    Geddy Lee
    James Jamerson (Motown session player)
    John McVie

    Peter – Milwaukee, WI., USA

  64. Hi everyone,

    Great to take part in this discussion…

    So happy to see Geddy Lee named by so many of you.

    I should add something I haven’t read yet – missed it maybe – great bass players can be judged by their skills of course, but I think you raise the bar much higher as soon as they are frontmen(women), with elaborate singing melodies.

    If you take the example of Mark King, his technical skills are there of course, but if you add to this the melodies he sings on top of funky bass lines we are in the realm of the insane.

    I think that same goes for Geddy… it’s not just the bass lines, it’s the singing on top.

    Now for your particular interest in the matter I would add the name of someone who’s terribly missing in this list.

    Armand Sabal-Lecco has been featured in many great records and great shows, especially with Stanley Clarke (not enough of him in these comments BTW), and I would directly refer you to one of the most amazing “bass” moments, for bass lovers.
    Google him up, you won’t be sorry…

    PS: Played for Sting, P.Simon, P.Gabriel, Manu DiBango…

  65. At first I thought of Paul McCartney and Chris Squire, off the top of my head, ‘Badge’. You’d nearly forget about the bass player when you know it’s Eric playing lead, and ‘Hold Out Your Hand’, but I just love ‘Fish Out of Water’.

    Glad to see John McVie coming in after 6 days, if ‘They’ could have had him for the ‘Buckingham Nicks’ album? They are all exceptional.

    David Ringland
    Love PF
    Larne (google it)

    Only joking about ‘buckingham nicks’ maybe just some cheap publicity for the most forgotten classic album of all time…

    Love to all.

  66. Had to add my two cents. In no particular order:

    John Entwistle – The Who
    Chris Squire – Yes
    Tony Levin – King Crimson, etc.
    Jack Cassidy – Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna
    Geddy Lee – Rush

  67. John Entwistle
    Chris Squire
    Stanley Clark
    Jack Bruce
    Paul McCartney (Never given enough credit as a bass player but he did some great work in “Hey Bulldog” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to name a few)

  68. Hi Fed,

    A few days late for the thread, a favorite subject of mine.

    Many a great player mentioned- one I didn’t see was Randy Jackson from ‘Idol’. He is a session bassist as well as producer and business man. Very well rounded and connected.

    Some tops on my list are (in no particular order):

    Jaco, because he did prove that bass can be a lead instrument.

    John McVie- so many of his lines are rock solid yet purposeful.

    Guy- great energy and enthusiasm.

    Tal Wilkenfeld- great chops, very cute and her bass is almost bigger than she is.

    Love David’s bass line on One of These Days. I have a multi-effects pedal that I set up to recreate that sound pretty close and always get looks of awe when I crank it up while noodling around. Also love the fretless work on Hey You. Not bad for a guitarist. 😛


    1. Excuse my ignorance… never knew it was Dave on Hey You and One of These Days… awesome news to me!!!

  69. All of the above — I haven’t seen Marcus Miller mentioned yet! A big +1 to the mention of John Gustafson.

    David (Gilmour) is a great bass player. I saw him play bass at the Albert Hall with Sam Brown supporting Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1990s).

    Brendan AKA The Sonic Groove

  70. Greetings from Alabama!

    Some of my favorites – no certain order:

    Victor Wooten
    Chris Squire
    Jaco Pastorius
    Tal Wilkenfeld – amazing
    Stanley Clarke
    Guy Pratt
    James Jamerson
    Jack Bruce
    Les Claypool
    Billy Sheehan
    Ray Brown
    Greg Lake
    Tony Levin

    David Hood – Muscle Shoals, AL (Studio bassist – Traffic – many others – Staples Singers, “I’ll Take You There”, think that’s the correct title)
    Bob Wray – Muscle Shoals, AL (Studio bassist)

  71. “best” usually means technically best, sometimes emotionally best is what’s required.

    –> Felix Pappalardi


  72. my favorite bass players are:

    david gilmour (of course i don’t forget david plays bass)
    paul mccartney
    guy pratt (i like this guy)
    tal wilkenfeld
    john paul jones

    and i don’t want to forget roger waters.

  73. Hi everyone!

    First I should admit that I haven’t taken the time to read all the comments posted above, but after a quick scan I found the Great Tiran Porter (Doobie Brothers) seemed to be missing from the list. If someone did mention him, my apologies.

    Like everyone else, I love Geddy’s playing, Jaco, Jeff Berlin, Paul McCartney, Stu Cook, and Paul Jackson.

    For some reason though, I never got the hype surrounding John Entwistle… and Lemmy? Sorry guys. 8)

  74. I personally love the basslines by Flea, but that’s my opinion. Can’t Stop is some amazing ass song.

  75. I’m sorry, but my husband is one of the greates bassist of all time!! Right up there besides James Jamerson. As a matter of fact, he is Philadelphia International James Jamerson. 😀

    This is my husband’s Jimmie William’s credentials, he should be among the greatest bassist of all time.

    Curtesy of here are some of his credentials:

    Teddy Pendergrass [Total Soul Classics] Teddy Pendergrass Bass, Musician
    1979 Edgar Winter Album Edgar Winter Bass
    1982 Sisters Sister Sledge Bass, Guitar, Guitar (Bass), Rap
    1991 Emotionally Yours The O’Jays Vocals
    1998 Spirit’s In It/I’m In Love Again/Patti Patti Labelle Bass
    1999 Let Me Be Good to You/Sit Down and Talk to Me Lou Rawls Bass
    1999 Teddy Pendergrass/Life Is a Song Worth Singing [Diabl Teddy Pendergrass Bass
    1999 Year 2000/My Favorite Person The O’Jays Bass
    2005 So Full of Love/Identify Yourself O’Jays Bass
    2007 Change Our Ways Root Doctor Bass, Vocals, Group Member
    2007 Essential Lou Rawls Lou Rawls Bass
    2007 Essential Teddy Pendergrass [3.0] Teddy Pendergrass Bass
    2007 Essential Teddy Pendergrass Teddy Pendergrass Bass
    2008 Sound of Philadelphia: Gamble & Huff’s Greatest Hits

    He created and recorded the bassline to McFadden and Whitehead’s Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.

    He is currently the bassist for “The Mighty O’jays”, he had recorded most of Teddy Pendergrass’ biggest and greatest hits… among many, many other artists.

  76. I would have to say, for bassists it would be:

    Chris Squire – innovative in taking the bass from a background instrument and making it something to be proud of. Not that you became a bassist because people thought you stunk as a guitarist. He made the bass something that made your jaw drop. He was the first bassist to topple Sir Paul from the Best Bass player polls.

    John Entwhistle – not a big fan of The Who as a whole (hold off… just my opinion) but even though I’m not a big Who fan, you can’t deny this guy’s ability to play. How many still think his bass stuff in My Generation isn’t cool and fast and awesome for way back then!?!?

    Larry Graham – another innovator. Slap Bass fan? Thank Mr. Graham. I still listen to Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) and I thank him for that riff. A true innovator that came up with something new on the bass that crazy people have gone on and done miraculous things with!

    I think these three people were true innovators of the bass. They brought the bass out of the background and into the forefront. They created new and exciting ways of a bassist. They created new genres of bass work that other fantastic people have refined, expanded and expounded on.

    Without these people we might not have the Geddy Lees, the Victor Wootens, Myung and who ever else you can think of. These greats are taking what these innovators came up with and made even more out of it.

    Oh… and Bootsy… one cannot forget Bootsy.

    Just my $0.02.

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