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Poor 1980's bass players

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by motoman, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. motoman


    May 8, 2008
    Ontario canada
    Well with the recent death of Eddie Van Halen I was reading an article the other day how about how mean he was to his bass player Michael Anthony and he also paid him less than the other members of the band in the 1980s he said it was very common in those days to pay the bass player less than the others that's really not fair although he did Apologize many times for his behaviour recently why did bass players in the 1980s get paid less than other members they're just as important to.
    Viggo51, Hummergeist and Vinny_G like this.
  2. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Lol! I was a very poor bass player in the 1980s - not only boiled my strings... but kept the water for soup! (and I was the bandleader, much of the time...) :greedy:
    kobass, danesdad, Mili and 28 others like this.
  3. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    There was a lot of synth bass in the ‘80s, so that didn’t help.
    danesdad, Mili, bobyoung53 and 5 others like this.
  4. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    I’m not sure why(if that information is accurate)you would think that the way that the Van Halen band was organized as a business would apply to any other situation, professional or not, in that time period, or any other decade. As far as amateur and bar bands were concerned, where contracts were more simplistic(if they existed at all), the money was on such a low level that if a player wasn’t happy with the split or even the intial terms(which really should have been discussed in the begining anyway), they could just leave. They weren’t walking away from that much. Many of these groups operated on a handshake anyway, a bunch of kids in the neighborhood or at school that, if they persevered, they might have started to get somewhere locally. It’s the individual player’s responsibility to get that stuff ironed out with the others when things would get to the next
    level. By the end of the 70’s, no one should have been that naive, and when any band like that got signed, he should have gotten all of that straightened out. That continues to this day.
    As far as the rise of synth bass is concerned, either the keyboardist was covering that already, that being the way the band was set up in the first place, or else the on-board bassist would switch to a keyboard or use electronics that would interface with a bass guitar, even though the technology was just getting off the ground then.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  5. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    Bassists were doing very simple things in this era in popular music, nothing that a guitarist couldn't do himself. What's more, I read several times that Michael Anthony had alcohol problems during this period and that it impacted his live performances.

    I don't make value judgments, life can be complicated sometimes and everyone does what they can with what they have.

    As Slater said, synth bass lines were becoming increasingly common. For a "simple" rock bassist, being able to be replaced either by his guitarist or by a machine must have been particularly difficult to digest.
  6. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    Michael Anthony was paid less for two reasons
    1. He didn’t write (Neither did the drummer but see #2)

    2. his name wasn’t VanHalen

    it wasn’t because he was a substandard player
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  7. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    nothing to do with 80s. unfortunately in a lot of bands the bassist and drummer are on the low end of the totem pole, and more so if not a large contributor in songwriting. alex was probably lucky since he was eddies brother.
    grouse789, Mili, Ggaa and 3 others like this.
  8. Harper


    Nov 10, 2001
    You got a source on that? Because I'm calling BS. He partied, but MA's drinking was the least of Van Halen's drug/alcohol issues at pretty much any point he was in the band.

    Also, Michael Anthony is worth literally tens of *MILLIONS* of dollars and plays to huge crowds with Sammy. I don't think any of us should feel too poorly about how his career turned out.

    kobass, grouse789, danesdad and 25 others like this.

  9. For what it's worth I had just recently listened to the audio version of VH manager Noel Monk's book. He said that M Anthony was always too quiet, nice and laid back for his own good in that group. Dave and Ed were the primary songwriters and eventually when the real $$ came in they decided MA's contribution as "just the bass player" didn't give him a right to 1/4 of the royalties and payments.

    They started as friends, the $$, the lawyers and their own individual insecurities were primarily responsible for MA getting the shaft from them, they threw the friendship angles out and discounted the important role he served as a good bassist and great singer.

    As for the 80's in general, I don't see bassists as much different from so many other musicians. People knew Duran Duran but didn't give much thought to the members overall. Singers got the lion's share of attention, maybe more in those days than even now.
    Aqualung60, Auspuff and mikewalker like this.
  10. Hover-Rich

    Hover-Rich Commercial User

    Jan 21, 2018
    Craig, Colorado
    Hover Harness, LLC
    As far as the inequality of money, attention, etc., some people don't want to make a huge fight over these things. Being too "quiet" is not necessarily a bad thing, unless your ego needs a ton of stroking. If you are happy with your experience of being in the band (big time or not), then accept that as a good thing.

    Getting as many girls / boys as the other people, getting an acceptable amount of the money and recognition, getting love from the audience and critics; we all have different needs. If you are making plenty of money and not being s*** on by others in the band and management then maybe that's as good as it will get.

    As far as MA's contribution to the band, one thing that I think is overlooked is his singing. IMO his singing added A LOT to the sound of VH, more than people might realize. If you could take his voice out of the mix, I bet they would sound very different.
  11. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    Eddie and Alex had alcohol and drug issues themselves so I doubt that was the issue.... or was it?
    Vinny_G and Harper like this.
  12. Mark McClelland

    Mark McClelland

    Mar 4, 2016
    Martin Kemp, from scratch, was given, and took, 10 days to learn to play bass good enough to join Spandau Ballet with his brother Gary. Martin was offered the chance of a day off when they recorded Gold and True, because they said they could just record synth bass. He took the day, hugely regretted it when those songs became smash hits and vowed he'd never do it again. They never did have another hit as big.
  13. tpaul

    tpaul Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    I think it's due to BPPUS (Bass Player Punctuation Underutilization Syndrome) but I could be wrong.
  14. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Eww. I just made friends with a guitar tech. No metal aftertaste. Free week old strings.
    mikewalker likes this.
  15. TNCreature

    TNCreature Jinkies! Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Philadelphia Burbs
    4 strings = 4 monies
    6 strings = 6 monies
    farmertom, jchrisk1, Neo1 and 9 others like this.
  16. I seem to remember some kerfuffle recently where EVH was taking credit for the bass, basically showing MA how to play the parts note-for-note. Punching down at Michael is just Eddie being Eddie, I suppose.

    Right! I ran out of breath just reading it.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  17. VolverseLoco

    VolverseLoco Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2018
    Las Vegas

    EVH showing Michael Anthony what to play? Can you imagine being the bass player in Yngwies band? If I was the bass player in either of those bands in the beginning, I would keep my mouth shut and play what they taught me. For one I would be learning new things all the time and two, its like having worked for Google on your resume for the next band just in case the lead guitarists head explodes from all the fame and money and you suddenly find yourself not getting a pay increase.
    mikewalker likes this.
  18. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    It speaks to the relative importance and simplicity of bass in 80s pop-rock. In that particular case, Eddy and Alex didn't leave a lot of sonic space for the bass, and the result was wildly popular. Hard to argue with success.
    DirtDog likes this.
  19. Harper


    Nov 10, 2001
    This might not surprise you, but Yngwie plays most of the bass on his albums.

    mikewalker likes this.
  20. db59

    db59 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2015
    I think on the 2004 tour he.was.paid less......I saw that show in Atlanta,... unfortunately a forgettable show
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