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What makes a bass player successful, good luck or playing?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by bassstrangler, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. bassstrangler

    bassstrangler Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    In the reading of the recent Adam Clayton thread I thought it was interesting that he has obtained a huge level of success and fame and from what I can tell I'm as able of a player as he is (of course this is my opinion, not others). Yet, I'm nobody as far as it comes to playing bass.

    Now, it's obvious to me that the reason I was never a success was because I never actually tried to become successful in a band and real life got in my way.

    So, my question is what makes a player successful? Is it being a virtuoso, being in the right place at the right time, playing what the song needs, having people like Bono being the lead singer and being lucky to be in a band with someone like that?

    I guess I was able to think of myself as an adequate bass player because I was always able to play the parts of the songs and bands I listened to. Players like Simon Gallup of The Cure, Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order, David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets (and almost every other player from that era and style), I can play all of their parts. Players like Geddy Lee, Tony Levin, Pino, and Chris Squire I can hack through their parts and eventually learn them.

    Why are players who might be considered adequate, some excellent, some outstanding some gods become successful?
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    There are about 7 billion people on earth, 5% live in the US.

    Chances are the actual best of anything lives outside the US and nobody will ever know.
    jamro217, LarryBama, El-Bob and 14 others like this.
  3. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    It's a mix of luck and talent.
    If you have huge amounts of luck, you don't need much talent. You could be mediocre, but you and your band land a series of hits and your band gets famous.
    If you're so talented people praise your incredible chops an claim you're the best player to ever have walked the earth, this will eventually reach the right ears sooner or later and you'll make it as a pro.

    I guess that unless you're incredibly lucky or a prodigy, you need heaps of both.
    As a freelancer, you're up against a ton of talented guys that practice 8 ours a day 7 days a week.
    Being in the right place at the right time might get you onto the right stage - but once there you'll have to deliver.
    jamro217, PauFerro, backin82 and 2 others like this.
  4. getbent


    Aug 20, 2010
    Chicago, IL
    being a reliable person that people actually want to spend time with is often more valuable than being a virtuoso player.
    Being a good singer and a songwriter will also get you a lot further than being a great bass player.
    And being good looking doesn't hurt!
  5. AuBassMan

    AuBassMan Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2011
    Central Virginia
    There's a big difference between "hack through their parts and eventually learn them" and actually coming up with those bass lines yourself.
    jamro217, tfer, Brad Johnson and 25 others like this.
  6. bassstrangler

    bassstrangler Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Of course there is. Maybe I should have wrote that differently. What I meant was I can break the parts down little by little and eventually learn them. This is as opposed to pretty much taking 15 minutes and learning a whole song by a lot of bassist.

    Also, writing them is key as well. I never wrote a hit song or for that matter anything that sold. So in essence what is your answer to my question?
  7. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Probably a combination of many things...
    I think an interesting question would be , what does it take to stay famous? ....'cause you might even get lucky, but I suppose keeping your fame probably require all sort of other skills other than just playing the bass.
    jamro217, backin82, JRA and 1 other person like this.
  8. bassstrangler

    bassstrangler Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Probably good songs or the ability to put out music some people want to hear and buy, as well as purchasing your concert tickets.
    backin82 and Bijoux like this.
  9. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Luck is the least likely to propel you to success.
    You actually missed the one thing that is most important, hard work.
    You work hard learning your craft.
    You work hard developing the habits to live and work in the music world.
    You work hard developing relationships and contacts within the business.
    So when luck does come around, you are ready.
  10. bassstrangler

    bassstrangler Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Good point, although I'm pretty sure there are a few players out there that got lucky without the hard work.
    inanimate_carb and bassbully like this.
  11. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I seriously doubt it. They wouldn't last long.
  12. bassstrangler

    bassstrangler Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    I'd beg to differ, but no use in getting into a back in forth without seriously degrading some famous players (and of course this is only conjecture without proof).
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Do you think Adam Clayton didn't work extra hard to be where he is now ?
    You think he didn't pour his entire life into his craft, didn't take all the risks, didn't sacrifice everything else to be on top?
    Do you?
    tfer, Brad Johnson, Marihino and 3 others like this.
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Hard work and good playing.
    Marihino likes this.
  15. bassstrangler

    bassstrangler Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Maybe a little clarification to my OP as I reread it and it seems a bit confusing. I had been reading quite a bit of the Adam Clayton thread and it seems there is a lot of people who think he and many other famous bass players aren't necessarily very good players. I guess my question is how do players considered not that good or just okay achieve their success?

    My comparison of my playing to others was to say I feel I am only an adequate player, yet I can certainly play plenty of famous players lines. I certainly am not famous because of many reasons.
    Socobass likes this.
  16. bassstrangler

    bassstrangler Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    I never said Adam Clayton was in this category. But I'm pretty certain there are a few out there who have achieved fame that didn't necessarily put in the hard work.

    This also applies to any profession, not just music. I've known plenty of people that achieved success in roles that didn't put to much effort into it.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
    bassbully likes this.
  17. EpiphoneMoody


    Jan 11, 2018
    A little bit of both
    David A. Davis likes this.
  18. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Luck? Timing? Since there are more root note thumping bass players in the world then virtuosos. Millions of people know who Nikki Sixx is......Jeff Berlin? Jaco?....not so much.
    Eikari, HolmeBass, 4dog and 6 others like this.
  19. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Maybe they bring a lot more to the table other than just playing the bass. let's see:
    maybe they are easy to work with, easy to get along, they are team players, they understand show business, they are great composers, lyricists, maybe they are good producers, maybe they know a lot of people and have great connections, they are always on time, dressed adequately for each situation, they understand business and finances, ... idk the list could go on and on...
    Marihino, wmmj and bassstrangler like this.
  20. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I think Nathan east is a monster player. but still can you imagine what it takes to be this guy???!!!
    MHT75, basscapes, wmmj and 2 others like this.

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