Bassists who’ve influenced me

When I started writing this post, I forgot that I’d done a similar one a few years back. There isn’t that much of a change. A lot of similar names. Still one must ocassionally muse and indulge. So these aren’t necessarily my favourite bassists. These are ones who at some point in my life influenced how I did or heard music. They are kind of in a chronological order. Memory is quite fluid after all. A deep dozen bassists for you.

Duff Mckagan

Yes the GnR bassist was the first time I actually started listening to the bass guitar. With his slightly over-driven tone and pick usage I wouldn’t say he was my favourite but I really started following the instrument from this guy. Melodious and holding the bottom, like in this song.


Thankfully my interest in glam-rock was tempered by something a bit more gritty. It was funky and in your face. I hadn’t really heard slap bass before and this was my introduction to it. I covered ‘Aeroplane’ with various bands, but the one that really educated me on melody and the place of the bass deep down was this one.

Billy Sheehan

Oh yes, the need for speed. As with most people I heard of Mr. Big through their hit ‘To be with you.’ But inadvertently heard the following song and it really allowed me to believe that a bassist could be as diva as the lead guitarist.

Geddy Lee

I’m not sure how I came across Rush. Someone leant me an ‘Exit Stage Left’ cassette. The odd lines, the odd timing really excited me. I was flabbergasted when I learnt he sang AND played the keyboards as well.

Abraham Laboriel

My forever favourite. I think maybe it’s his personality, but this seems to flow through his playing. Each note is so full of joy and groove.


I think I first heard/saw Sting on Doordarshan! (for the uninitiated and the unborn, this was the only TV we got before the 90s) He was with Bruce Springsteen and Tracy Chapman for the Amnesty tour I think. But I truly met with him in ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales.’ What a marvelously crafted album. Every word and note cleverly placed. Sometimes too clever but again odd timed grooves got me.

Stu Hamm

Really expanded the bass for me with all that tapping malarkey. Tried the national anthem with this technique. Screwed it up. Royally. Not democratically.

John Patitucci

Saw/heard John Patitucci through an instruction video that was really useful for me. But I really started appreciating him more when I heard his upright bass playing.

Jaco Pastorius

You’ve got to have Jaco in there don’t you? Possibly did what Hendrix did to the guitar. I’d heard him off and on but this blew me at the time and still does.

<p><a href=”″>Live Shadows And Lights Joni Mitchell Jaco Pastorius Pat Metheny Michael Brecker Don Alias</a> from <a href=”″>Domenico Loparco</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Victor Wooten

Another tapping master but much more than that. I don’t like his solo work, but with Bela Fleck he’s an absolute genius.

Richard Bona

I first heard of him with his association with Pat Metheney. But first heard is beautiful soulful playing and singing with Bobby Mcferrin.

Doug Pinnick

Again like Abraham Laboriel there is something about the personality of Doug Pinnick that has really affected me. His playing and singing so soulful and strong, somehow brings together the bitterness and joy of life in person, in music.

So what to say of this list? Well I suppose it’s a bit narrow. Mostly North American with Gordon sneaking in there somehow. But sometimes that’s how it happens. A particular sub-culture is what speaks to you and what forms you. The challenge is to continue growing and moving through all that life gives and throws at you.