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Chuck berry bassist on 1958 live and willie Dixon lines

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by BlueP, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. BlueP


    Jan 29, 2017
    Does anyone know who chuck berries bassist was on the live 1958 tv recording when he does maybelline, rollover Beethoven and Johnny b Goode ?

    Does anyone have a transcript of willie dixons bass line for the original chess recording of Johnny b Goode

    I am listening like crazy trying to transcribe it but it is difficult to hear all the bass notes

    I have found one tab on the net which looks and sounds pretty close

    Our band is doing this at some up coming shows and whilst there are a heap of so called tabs out on the web they don't look or sound right

    I don't think I will get anywhere near willie Dixon but in asking this I want to try to do a decent job of it

    I can play a straight ahead quarter note jump type line and that is sitting ok with the band but I want to get closer to the original take if I can ...

    Thanks in advance for any decent replies

  2. BlueP


    Jan 29, 2017
    Dr. Cheese likes this.

  3. The most important thing which the overwhelming majority of players miss when playing the early Chuck Berry stuff is that the rhythm section swings while the rest of the bands plays straight rock n roll. It's got to be played fast enough so that it does swing otherwise it doesn't feel or sound right right. Think Jitterbug.
    BlueP likes this.
  4. I hope someone here has a better ear than I.
    Willie Dixon's bass lines on Chuck Berry songs and James Jamerson's bass lines on early Motown
    recordings were done on stand up basses through a mic.
    Trying to pick out their bass lines is like trying to single out one person in a stadium full of cheering spectators.

    Willie.jpg Willie james.jpg
    BlueP likes this.
  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    He was so young! That was some super live television. Chuck had plug and tune up in real time.
  6. I read this

    Johnny B Goode was recorded in 1958 with a band that included the legendary bassist Willie Dixon, author of such classics as Spoonful and Back Door Man. It is ironic that Berry should have recorded so many of his hits with a band containing luminaries like Dixon, because, throughout his career, Berry was notorious for showing up for his gigs backed by a local band he had hired cheap, sight unseen and with whom he had not rehearsed so they could be anybody
    ElMon likes this.
  7. okay I have more info it was
    Chuck Berry performing in a French TV show Live
    BlueP likes this.
  8. jan edvinsson

    jan edvinsson

    To BlueP #1...I do not know if you have got the bass lines you want to " Johnny B. Goode " by now ( May 22, 2020 ), but I have been struggling lately to find out what Wille is doing; I am planning to make some videos on bass lines to some Chuck Berry songs and put out on youtube. A " funny " thing, or unexpected thing, on " Johnny " was that the bass lines did not seem to fit in the key of Bb!?, if I play in A I have loose strings to use and it becomes more comfortable..and the sound seems to fit too..!?..so what is this?..Chuck likes to play in Bb, its more appetizing for a guitarist to play " Chuck Berry guitar " in Bb, A is a bit dull, and especially " Johnny " ( I know Chuck might play in C sometimes, I guess because a hired pianist is more comfortable in C than in Bb ). So what is this? Willie in A and Chuck in Bb ? I have an acoustic bass guitar that is easy to tune a half step higher, and then play in key of Bb but play the bass as in the key of A...could Willie tune a double bass up a half tone? will it break the neck or feel to bright or to hard to play on the strings? or did they compromise?..hm... Phil Chess had got an hit with Sweet Little Sixteen earlier by raising the speed of the recorded song about a half step, to make Chuck´s voice sound like a teenager ( as Chuck has mentioned ), that might have worked for that song, but to speed up " Johnny " a half tone does not work, I have checked, the voice sounds weird, but around a quarter tone seems to work...!? did Chuck lower his guitar a quarter tone and Wille raised the bass a quarter tone...and then when speeded up to Bb, Chuck´s voice would ( once again ) sound more like a teenager and the song would be " flying " faster and sound more vital and vivid...the intro guitar has a sound that I have never been able to duplicate and feels a bit rushed in its balance...well anyway...So the tip is: if you try to play with a bass tuned a half step higher, so that you can play in A on the bass, and then lift away the right earphone a bit, its possible to hear the bass in the left earphone at the same time you play on your bass. Wille follows the story so perfectly, so there is always logic in what he does, but here and there he won´t go where a regular bass player would go, he makes jumps in the lines and make fast runs, there are a lot going on and he nails it all with tremendous feel and touch... but after he did that, the song is speed up..well I think.. so that makes the bass playing almost a bit fast to conquer. Its such a lovely bass line, and also in other CB songs that Willie play, it would be nice if we could be able to have them. I used to have Chuck Berry tribute band where I played guitar and did the vocal, but I could never find anyone playing the original bass or piano things, which I always longed for. So and so...I will see if can do those videos with bass lines for some songs in the nearest future. I can come back on that. Janne
    Last edited: May 22, 2020 at 11:12 PM
  9. I tried transcribing it some years ago & got some of the way. Since then, this has surfaced:—

    Dixon's bass on "Promised Land" is a hoot. The band are in full-on 'train' mode, but Willie decides it need to be funky:

    btmpancake likes this.

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