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who invented slapping? bill johnson or larry graham?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by AZNBassist, May 3, 2004.

  1. AZNBassist


    Jan 14, 2004
    well, this thread actually belongs in both BG and DB forums, but wutever...

    when i first began slapping, it wuz on electric and i always thot it wuz larry graham who invented it on BG, and i thought he was right, since slapping an upright doesnt have quite the same effect that it does on an electric...

    but recently, ive heard some claims that during the Early New Orleans period, Bill Johnson was the guy who invented slapping on upright...

    so who REALLY invented slapping?

    and if bill johnson actually invented slapping, then did larry graham copy him? or did he rediscover it?
  2. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    I don't know the particular people you mentioned here, but I believe slapping originally came about in those early periods as a way to get more volume out of the bass when playing with full bands, since electrics didn't exist. In fact, originally, it was mostly just the "pop" of the technique. The slap came along as a rythmic embellishment.

    Acoustic instruments have been around for a long time, and I would imagine that very little has actually been "invented" on an electric anything. You can probably find most (if not all) techniques in some form or another by someone from a long time ago.
  3. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001

    This should give you some info about slappin' the Upright Bass, about electric bass, i really dont know, i dont play electric bass, but technique wise, sound wise, slapping these 2 instruments are two completely different things, 2 different worlds that can't be mixed...


    p.s. the older recording of slap bass that i have is with Bill Johnson playing with King Oliver....sounds great
  4. I've always thoughtt hat it was Stanley Clarke when he came over the electric bass from double bass, he adapted a technique that worked for him.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Definitely not! He was a long time after Larry Graham on BG, and I don't even remember hearing him slapping much on DB.
  6. Bruce, I once saw Stanley with Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty, a kind of Super String Session. Stanley played DB, but he actually did little but slap...like he was playing a big slab turned upright. It was all snap, crackle & pop.
    Maybe he just had an urge to show up, with those guys. Nice lesson, though.

  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But he definitely didn't invent this technique - there were lots of people doing this before him and Larry Graham was playing slap/pop on BG long before Stanley did!
  8. Did I say something about him inventing slapping?
    I just commented this:
    "I don't even remember hearing him slapping much on DB."
    Well, I do.
    Other than that, the inventor might as well have been Billy Graham.

  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But that's the whole point of the thread!! ;)
  10. Glad to have Ol´ Bruce back.

    Man, I just wanted to tell to everyone who might be interested, this meaning not only you, my verbose friend, that I once saw Stanley slapping the hell out of DB. But as I said, it was whole different style, too.

    Had I known anything about who actually invented slapping, I´m sure I could have been capable of typing something like:
    "As to original question..." and gone on sharing my knowledge.

    I re-read my posts, and if there was anything to put the inventor of the style in question, or to claim that Stanley Clarke invented slapping, you can put that on the account of my poor ability to express myself in English language.

    Now, as to original question, old New Orleans players like Pops Foster did slap on DB, and my guess is that slapping started right after tuba was replaced by DB in jazz bands.

  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    My point was that on the earliest recordings I have heard of Stanley Clarke, he isn't doing anything like this, although I don't deny any amount of it later in his career - it was Dave Owen who was suggesting that Stanley Clarke invented the technique for BG and I was responding to this - the clue was in the fact that I quoted him!! ;)
  12. AZNBassist


    Jan 14, 2004
    well to get back on topic....

    if they're not the same, then how exactly do u execute a double bass slap?
  13. I've seen a cool variant on slap bass where a snare-drum head is mounted to the bass's upper bout, treble side. The player holds a brush in his right hand and hits the snare between the down beats he's playing on the bass. This is used more for country bands, I gather.

    Don't know who came up with this technique, though.
  14. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    I think it might actually have been John Entwistle, he was doing some pretty amazing new stuff on bass way back in the early sixties.
    Before you start scoffing consider this....
    It WASN'T Jaco that first took the frets off his bass ..... it was Bill Wyman!
  15. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I don't know who invented slapping, but Joan Crawford perfected it.
    coldtrain and Jaco Taco like this.
  16. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Al Gore invented it, but, we all knew that, right?
  17. ADeepShadeOfBlu


    Mar 1, 2004
    Can someone Please mention Colin Hodgekinson. Way back when, when Stanley was with Chick Corea, they were supported by a band called Back Door. Legend has it that their bass-player had perfected a strange and mystical technique involving striking the fretboard with the thumb and snapping the higher strings with the middle and index fingers. Sound familiar?. Stanley was apparently so bowled-over by this new sound, he asked Colin to so it to him ......... And the rest is history.
    Back Door were the Primus of the 60's, even Les Claypole admits it!

    On the upright, isn't there a song from the 1930's called "Slap That Bass" ("slap that bass, slap it till it's dizzy, slap that bass, keep the rhythm busy"). Think it's from an Astaire movie?
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Colin is still a long way after Larry Graham, - they were a 70s band not 60s and I bought their first two albums - which were released many years after Larry Graham and hundreds of disco players had been slapping their heads off!! ;)
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I found a quote from an interview with Stanley :

    Stanley saw Larry Graham’s technique (Sly and the Family Stone) and seized upon the idea. He built his facility to a frightening speed, and then adapted it to complex jazz harmonies. Says Stanley, “Larry started it, but he had only one lick. I saw him do it, and I took it from there.” Stanley was the first musician to pop over chord changes. “A lot of guys could jam all day in E, but couldn’t play it over changes.”

  20. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    As far as DB slapping goes, I'd bet money that it has been around long before the first recordings. Gypsy traditional music utilizes a fair bit of slap bass, and their tradition goes well back before the 1900s...