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Which Bassist "Made" a Band?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by OldStrummer, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. OldStrummer


    Dec 29, 2018
    Ashburn, VA
    Having turned to bass only recently, and having been here just a short time, there are a lot of threads about who's your favorite, who's the most underrated (and probably who's the most overrated, but I haven't seen that one, yet). It got me to wondering:

    Is there a bass player in your opinion who, without having been in a specific band, would have caused that band to be just mediocre?

    Put another way, while there may be flashy guitar players and superstar singers, would there have been a band that wouldn't have succeeded without the solid playing of a talented bass player?
  2. Picton

    Picton Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    I can’t think of any. Other than Violent Femmes.

    For bands who made it big, I feel the only really indispensable folks are the lead singer and, to a lesser extent, the lead guitarist. Why? Because the frontman’s voice is more distinct than any other single instrument in the band.

    Big-name bands have a star. That’s almost always the singer.
    Rayjay, TN WOODMAN, hintz and 2 others like this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Phil Lynnott and Felix Pappalardi. But then, both of them were also the lead singer.
  4. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Definitely Phil, and then Lemmy, of course. Guitarists could come and go, and it wouldn’t matter. Now, Yes would be an interesting discussion. I wouldn’t want to go there, but CS’s distinct style and contributions were monumental.
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Jack Bruce, Geddy...?

    The Who without Entwistle? Not the same...then again, The Who without Moon was never the same.
  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I don't think The Police would have existed without Sting. I don't think Level 42 would have existed without Mark King.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The Police, The Who, The Beatles, Mr Big, Pearl Jam, Level 42, Flecktones, Cheap Trick, Motorhead, Guns n Roses, Violent Femmes, Black Sabbath, off the top of my head. Plus dozens more. Each absolutely made by a distinctive bass player.
    danesdad, DaDo625, Mpike and 19 others like this.
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    The Who. In their early years, he was the primary lead player.
    hintz, oranje, dalkowski and 3 others like this.
  9. Primus (Les Claypool)
  10. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    I'm sure lots of successful bands have bassists that contribute a lot to the successful writing beyond just the bass lines, but that makes them valuable, not as bassists, but as writers/producers who also play bass in the band.

    The dead would still have been the dead even if they never had any bassist at all and the low end were handled by a keys player. They might've even been more famous if, when not singing, Phil played ocarina and vuvuzela.

    Oddly, I feel the total opposite about Phish with Mike.

    Paul Young's music career might not have happened at all without Pino.

    ...but Mayer did not benefit from having Pino any more than he would have with Nate Mendel.

    The Beatles definitely benefited from having Paul in the band, writing and singing, but they could have had Stu Cook playing bass in the studio and live and done just great with Paul just singing and playing keys.

    Rush absolutely wouldn't have been what it was without Geddy. Likewise with Yes without Chris, and Primus without Les.

    The Who's hits... Entwhistle is almost Newsteaded out of them. I can hear the songs in my head and all I hear is synth, guitar, cymbals, Daltry, occasional tom toms and some snare. They might've even been bigger if he'd gone on and became an actual mason and they'd gotten Suzi Quatro to play low notes and sing backup/harmony.

    Sublime gets almost no love here, but try to imagine Santeria, April 26th, or Wrong Way with Michael Anthony or Cliff Williams holding it down. Not happening, IMO. Try to imagine them with Novoselic. Hilarious.

    I think Nirvana would've still gone pretty far with any other bassist, but Krist did give a distinct flavor to the songs.
  11. Staredge


    Aug 7, 2010
    Germantown, MD
    Fleetwood Mac.
  12. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Jule-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    Generalizations like that are never right 100% of the time ;)

    Can you imagine the Chili Peppers without Flea?

    Most bass players don’t have kind of distinct voice, but there are certainly a handful that do.

    Matt Freeman from Rancid is another prime example, as is Geddy Lee, as is Les Claypool, as is...
  13. Low84

    Low84 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Who (unlike most rock bassists who just sit tight in the pocket... and there's nothing wrong with that, Entwistle took the instrument up a notch and stood out as the BASSIST playing killer stuff. he catapulted the instrument forward and should be on the Mount Rushmore of the instrument)

    Primus (if you need an explanation, you probably shouldn't be on this site)

    Red Hot Chili Peppers (back when Flea played great, his playing and his antics put the band on the map, no question)

    Jane's Addiction (honorable mention for Eric Avery... this guy might not have as memorable as Perry or Navarro, but he had some killer lines while in that band)
  14. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Absolutely The Who. Entwistle said that he could make any band sound like The Who. The Who without Moon plus Zac Starkey is actually better. The Who without Entwistle plus Pino is lacking a critical cog (IMO).

    I’d add Greg Lake in ELP.
  15. Yeah. There are a TON of examples. I’ll throw Steve Harris out there. Iron Maiden would never have existed if it wasn’t for him.
    ERIC31, Phil60, Wisebass and 25 others like this.
  16. Picton

    Picton Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    I’ll respectfully disagree.

    We feel that way because we’re bassists. 99% of Rancid’s fans, pogoing in the pit, had no idea who was on bass, and it’s doubtful they’d have noticed if someone subbed.

    Not so for the vocalist. Flea? Maybe. But more people followed that band for Kiedis than for Flea.
    murphy, electrichead and MattZilla like this.
  17. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Most good bands.
  18. JamasC


    Sep 2, 2014
    Tool Justin Chancellor
    Opiate and undertow are good albums, but the stuff I love came about with Justin. His playing changed the entire dynamic of their sound and structure.
  19. I'd say Flea, Les Claypool, Geddy Lee and Mark King take the cake here.
    CunniMingus, Jason42, murphy and 3 others like this.
  20. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    XTC mr mould
    Bassbubble11, murphy, oranje and 7 others like this.

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