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Billy Sheehan

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Venturella, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    Yep, Fact is you don't need to learn music theory or how to read music to play an instrument and create music. Just ask, the masses of hit makers from the beginning of time. If reading music and learning theory was the only factors to music success, only the greatest songwriters and musicians who know how to read music and know music theory would be the hit makers, and all others would never have a hit song. That's a logical fact.

    Here's a theoretical idology. There are millions of musicians who do not know music theory or read music, and they have never had a famous hit song. And that's because they don't know how to read music, and have never learned music theory.

    As for Billy Sheehan. Than man has a perfectionist mentality, and the hardest work ethic anyone could ever achieve. He is fast and technical because he works hard to get to that level and continues to work just as hard to maintain it.
    rtav, progmanjum and tfer like this.
  2. dannoman

    dannoman Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    I was there the day this was filmed. Billy had just met that guitar player 5 minutes before jamming with him. It was a situation of Hello, Hi. What are we playing? cool! everybody ready????
    progmanjum and tfer like this.
  3. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Sounds a lot like the jazz gigs I play. Hi, whats your name, what are we playing? What Key? Who kicks it off? Pretty SOP .
    tfer likes this.
  4. Fathand


    Sep 24, 2005
    Sheehan is awesome, and if anyone tries to convince me otherwise I'll just stick my fingers to my ears and listen to "Timido" in my head. ;)

    One of his signatures (Blue Ltd I or Seafoam Green Ltd II) is on my permanent "buy" list. I counted that buying them has been delayed for about 5-6 years, but maybe one of these days...
  5. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    I don't think anyone has said Billy isn't a great player, but not necessarily in all fields (i.e. jazz). Billy is great at what he does.
    GrapeBass likes this.
  6. Fathand


    Sep 24, 2005
    Agreed. My intention actually wasn't really to comment on the jam video, or the discussion after that. Just generally acknowledge that he's an awesome player.
  7. danesdad


    Feb 24, 2018
    Western PA
    I met the man once and he comes across as very humble and genuine. That he got to his level by sheer work ethic and playing by ear only makes me admire him more. Makes me think there his hope for me.
    jugglingfreak, rtav and tfer like this.
  8. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    i LOVE Billy's playing and have since I first heard him on DLR "Eat 'Em and Smile." I heard Yankee Rose on the radio when it first came out and thought, "Wow! Great song!" A friend had the album and when I heard "Shy Boy" I almost passed out.

    As I've said on another thread, I was a Geddy devotee for about 6 or 7 years when "Eat 'Em and Smile" came out, and Geddy never did ANYTHING like that... doubling the guitar fills, the tapping at the end, note for note with Vai (I knew who Vai was from Zappa).

    I was FLOORED. So naturally I became a huge fan of his playing, and have enjoyed his playing with Vai in many settings, and his stuff with Portnoy, Sherinian, and MacAlpine. Such an INCREDIBLE player.

    Then you see him at work, sorta behind the scenes and he seems like the most genuine open and sincere person. Not a bit of ego about him. I followed his facebook page for awhile and was always impressed when he would post a picture from his life, some amazing, some pedestrian, but he never humble-brags, sounds condescending or snubbed anyone. He comes across as self-effacing and laid back for someone who can stand in front of a crowd and do a bass solo for several minutes that leaves the audience stunned.

    I would love to say Hello to the guy if I ever got the chance and to thank him for playing the HELL out of the bass.
    tfer likes this.
  9. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008
    Billy is a monster bass player. I admire everything about him, and as a person (interviews) he's super humble. Reminds me a lot of Geddy Lee, prodigious bass players that are also super nice guys.

    As for theory, no one should scoff at it. These guys have thousands of hours of playing, their ears are 'tuned' so well they know where to find the notes they need to play the song, and quickly.

    But theory helps with talking with other musicians, reading music, writing music, ideas, exploring chords, keys, scales, and not being limited by just what you've played and listened too. That's a low ceiling for many who end up endlessly repeating known runs over and over, never knowing how to break out of that box and go in a new direction.

    I've read as many articles on Geddy as I can, he's never mentioned theory, but does talk about finding the song's tonal centre (key). I believe he and Sheehan, and others like them, play down the theory angle. You can't be in a Prog band, or all the bands Billy's been in, and be dumb about theory. You just can't.

    Steve Vai will list off what he's playing in the way he knows it and you better be able to pick that up. I can't see Billy saying "Steve, play that piece again, and then that one, oh and what note is that? Chord?". I don't think so, hearing can only take you so far, some stuff you need to just know.

    Now with Geddy, being in one band all these decades, you can get to a form of shorthand between your band mates, and everyone's patient with each other's strengths and weaknesses.

    But in Billy's case, playing with so many outstanding players, I believe he has to know more, be more versatile, and be quick on his feet with any band. I'm sure his knowledge of theory is solid enough to help him in those situations.
    tfer, rtav and IamGroot like this.
  10. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Stevie Vai is a monster sight reader. I think he had web page up on reading Zappa rhythms that was very helpful.

    Edit Wolf Marshall, not Stevie Vai, did a book of Barney Kessel jazz guitar transcriptions that floored me.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
    rtav likes this.
  11. GED2112


    Mar 6, 2018
    What video was that you mentioned
  12. GED2112


    Mar 6, 2018
    I just bought one! Finally.
  13. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Awesome. I bet it’s amazing!
  14. GED2112


    Mar 6, 2018
    it’s coming in the mail tomorrow!
    I haven’t hadda new bass in 28 years! Since the 10th anniversary model
  15. GED2112


    Mar 6, 2018
    I’d like to see that lick slowed down!
    IamGroot likes this.
  16. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Gotta love Billy. Great tongue in cheek video. I am waiting for the video on instruction on music theory.
  17. GED2112


    Mar 6, 2018
    I’d be surprised if that happens
    I been following him since 1984
    he never mentioned theory as far as I know
    All pattern based
    tfer likes this.
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Dancers study theoretical things, I'm sure, but you can't make your body move like they do without lots and lots of practice. What we do isn't that far removed - our moves are smaller, but have to be even more intricate - if a dancer is a quarter of an inch off, you might not notice, but if I shift my finger that far, things can get ugly. I know some music theory, but studying it more won't make the right notes fall under my fingers any better - that comes from playing - a lot. The bass guitar is about 67 years old. I've been playing most of that time, and I still need to practice more.
  19. I’m pretty sure I saw him once recount a conversation between him and Tony MacAlpine re theory where Tony told him “you don’t know but you understand.” Or something like that. I think that sums him up.
  20. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    I remember Paul Gilbert saying when he got around to learning theory it was more like putting names to things he had already figured out. If you play long enough and seriously focus on playing you can pick up on a lot of it without knowing what is, from listening to others or sometimes just dumb luck ;)

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