Keith Richards' bass playing

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by bassbourne, Jan 22, 2022.

  1. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    So I was just listening to 'Goats Head Soup' for the first time in a while and, although I was enjoying the album from the get-go, it wasn't until 'Silver Train' came on that the bass playing really caught my attention.

    I googled the personnel for that song, assuming it must be someone other than Bill Wyman and I turned out to be correct. It is in fact Keith Richards on bass (probably not news to most of you). This isn't the first time this has happened to me when listening to the Stones. The first time was when 'Live With Me' came on from the 'Let it Bleed' album. There are a bunch of others too.

    Anyway, although Bill Wyman is a part of the Stones' sound (having played on most of their records), to me his bass lines often go unnoticed unless I really focus on them. I suppose in a way that is a good thing as they are serving the song and not getting in the way, but on the other hand they aren't particularly memorable or well crafted in my opinion, unlike those of Paul McCartney or John Paul Jones (or even Keith) for example. I get these are completely different bands, but still, as a bass player, it's often Keith's bass lines that really draw me in and make me want to learn them. He actually sounds like a bass player too and not just a guitarist playing bass (which is often the case when a guitarist switches to bass).

    I've seen other threads on a similar topic, but feel free to share your thoughts. Also, please point me in the direction of some of your fave Wyman bass lines. I'd love to get more into his playing, it just hasn't caught my attention much yet.

  2. josephbass86


    Aug 5, 2002
    He did the bass on “Sympathy For The Devil” right? That’s one of their most memorable bass parts and I always liked the bouncy feel he had on that tune.
  3. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Yeah, I think you're right! Another good one.
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  4. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Bill's bass lines did seem a bit invisible on most songs, which is a good thing generally. Bill did stretch out at times when it worked best for the song.

    Always loved Keef's Live With Me intro and his rollicking run on Sympathy For The Devil. Keef's baselines were more identifiable.
    Keef on bass.jpg Keef on bass 2.jpg Keef on bass 3.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
  5. claudel

    claudel Supporting Member

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  6. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Just on Exile On Main Street alone, “Casino Boogie”, “Happy”, and “Soul Survivor”(in addition, Mick Taylor on “Tumbling Dice”, “Torn and Frayed”, “I Just Want To See His Face”, and “Shine A Light”).
    “Before They Make Me Run” and the title track from Some Girls.

    As far as under the radar Bill moments…

    This next one is without the vocals; simple stuff but I always loved that ratty fuzz bass run that pops up…

    Not really too different from the line on the Chuck Berry original, but at least you can hear him…

    Kinda buried here, but he’s moving around…

    Another take without the lead vocals, the better to hear Bill with…
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
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  7. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    It explains why Jumpin Jack Flash never sounded right live. I don't think Bill ever tried to play it like the original where Keith just stayed on the root.
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  8. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Ironically, as legend has it, Bill came up with that main riff on keyboard. It’s just that Mick and Keith are stingy with songwriting credits.
  9. Did the Stones even have BASS in their songs ???? cant remember any bass lines that mattered
  10. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    If you were around from the very beginning of the Stones, there were a lot of bass lines that mattered. It's just that then they did a lot blues covers, and judiciously used space mattered more than rock-riffs in that music.
  11. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    You haven’t read the thread, have you? It doesn’t matter who was playing, either. “Sympathy…”, even though it was Keith, is a perfect example. The bass, aside from Nicky Hopkins, makes the song. On “Miss You”, the only thing really going on besides Sugar Blue’s harp and Keys’ sax is Bill. Is there any bass on Hollies tracks? CCR? Badfinger? If indeed there wasn’t, you’d miss it.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
  12. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Bay Area
    Yes. See above.
  13. if you like Keith, you’ll really like Ronnie Wood’s bass work…
  14. TyBo


    Dec 12, 2014
    Yeah, that "Miss You" bass line is kind of iconic. Disco vibe, yeah, but filtered through a Stones sensibility that groves nicely. Interestingly, Rolling Stone Magazine savaged that Some Girls album in their review of it, seeing it as a sell out, while their writers were more into punk, I think. Then Some Girls was, if I remember right, later named the magazine's Album of the Year! :) "Get plenty to drink in the critics' section," as Mick would say. ;)
  15. I liked a lot of what he did with the Stones…. But he was never able to be the bass player when the New. Barbarians played.

  16. Jtimbo123

    Jtimbo123 Inactive

    Jan 12, 2022
    Crazy, wiki says Richards did play bass on sympathy for the devil ....great bass line
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  17. Oh I forgot to tell I dont like the stones ??? my bad
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  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Man’s got groove for weeks. I love his bass playing. At least in my own opinion he plays guitar like a bassist, he holds the pocket on most of their songs.
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  19. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Bay Area
    Then go back under the bridge.
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  20. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    On Talking About You, it was Paul McCartney who first stole Chuck Berry's bassline lock stock and barrel as the foundation of their hit, I Saw Her Standing There. Interesting to compare that with Keif's unique pulsating take.

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