Who played bass on The Carpenters hits?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Fender32, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. OK, so it's not exactly "rock 'n' roll" :meh: , but I was wondering today just who it was that played the bass on those classic Carpenters songs ("We've Only Just Begun", "Yeterday Once More", "Close to You" etc.)?

    I Wikipedia'd it, but no joy!

    I thought that I'd heard somewhere that Carole Kaye might have played them (?), but then, I've also read that she played about half of the songs recorded by James Jamerson ;) , so that's not reliable.

    Any ideas :meh: ?

    I think that some of those lines are pretty sweet, personally. They may be a little on the "trite" side, but ultra-melodic and evidently written by someone with a good understanding of scales.

    Well, thanks in advance for your comments! :)
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  2. Joe Osborn?
  3. wallydoesbass

    wallydoesbass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    Definitely Joe.
  4. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    It was Joe.
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  5. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Try Google next time. Joe Osborn on both.

  6. That's great, thanks guys! :)

    Joe Osbourn, eh? I only know him as a Lakland signatory, rather than as an actual bass player :smug: .

    I'll have to do some digging and see what else he's done.

    I really liked what he did on those Carpenters songs, though. Very unpredictable note choices (IMHO), without actually ever being "un-melodic" at any point - nice balance, if you know how to strike it!

    Cheers! :D
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  7. TheB3Nut


    Apr 26, 2007
    near Madison, WI
    Oh heck...Joe Osborn is a legend, his amount of output is pretty much exceeded only by Carol Kaye. Osborn played on a lot of the Simon & Garfunkel stuff, and Neil Diamond's early West Coast stuff, along with drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel. That core group did a LOT of sessions back in the day.

    Todd in Cheesecurdistan
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
  9. I would venture to say that Joe Osborn equalled Ms. Kaye in output.

    He started with Ricky Nelson and Johnny Rivers ...The 5th Dimension, America, Seals & Crofts, and many others...Great tone and time.

    Basscast has a nice podcast with him and others here.
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  10. :) Well, I grew up listening to The Sex Pistols, so you can see how I might have missed out on some of those acts (although my parents were two of Englands' biggest Neil Diamond fans :rolleyes: ).

    Seems like Joe Osborn could turn out to be the next James Jamerson, for me (i.e. until recently, unkown, but heard a million times before on the radio).

    Knowledge is, erm :meh: good, don't you think? ;)
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  11. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    I interviewed Joe for Vintage Guitar Magazine. Before he played bass, he was playing guitar with Ronnie Hawkins. James Burton got him the gig with Ricky Nelson, and the rest is bass history. If you got to VG's site, you can still read the entire interview. There is also a partial discography.

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  12. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
    From VG's site:

    Yeah, he's played on a couple of hits...... and he didn't change is bass strings for 15 YEARS !

    The Osborn Top 40
    With a recording career that spanned three decades, one can assume there might be a few hit songs along the way. In Joe Osborn’s case, the number is around 200. This list contains songs that appeared on the pop charts. According to Joe, it’s a little incomplete due to the fact that he can’t remember every session. In his days in Nashville, Osborn played on53 certifiable number one songs on the country charts.

    Arranged by year, artist, title and Chart Position
    1961, Rick Nelson, Travelin’ Man, 1
    1965, Gary Lewis/Playboys, This Diamond Ring, 1
    1965, Barry McGre, Eve of Destruction, 1
    1966, Mamas and Papas, Monday Monday, 1
    1966, Johnny Rivers, Poor Side of Town, 1
    1967, Association, Windy, 1
    1969, Fifth Dimension, Wedding Bell Blues, 1
    1969, Tommy Roe, Dizzy, 1
    1970, Carpenters, Close To You, 1
    1970, Neil Diamond, Cracklin’ Rose, 1
    1970, Partridge Family, I Think I Love You, 1
    1970, Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1
    1972, Helen Reddy, I Am Woman, 1
    1973, Carpenters, Top of the World, 1
    1973, Helen Reddy, Delta Dawn, 1
    1974, Carpenters, Please, Mr. Postman, 1
    1964, Johnny Rivers, Memphis, 2
    1965, Gary Lewis/Playboys, Count Me In, 2
    1965, Gary Lewis/Playboys, Save Your Heart For Me, 2
    1967, Mamas and Papas, Dedicated To the One I Love, 2
    1968, Association, Never My Love, 2
    1968, Richard Harris, MacArthur Park, 2
    1970, Carpenters, Superstar, 2
    1970, Carpenters, We’ve Only Just Begun, 2
    1970, Fifth Dimension, One Less Bell to Answer, 2
    1971, Carpenters, Rainy Days and Mondays, 2
    1972, Carpenters, Hurting Each Other, 2
    1973, Carpenters, Yesterday Once More, 2
    1976, England Dan & John Ford Coley, I’d Really Love to See You, 2
    1966 , Johnny Rivers, Secret Agent Man, 3
    1967 , JohnnyRivers, Baby, I Need Your Lovin’, 3
    1968 , Fifth Dimension, Stone Soul Picnic, 3
    1968 , Monkees, Valleri, 3
    1969 , Bobby Sherman, Little Women, 3
    1971 , Carpenters, For All We Know, 3
    1973 , Carpenters, Sing, 3
    1973 , Helen Reddy, Leave Me Alone, 3
    1965 , Gary Lewis/Playboys, Everybody Loves a Clown, 4
    1966 , Mamas & Papas, California Dreamin’, 4
    1967 , Scott Mackenzie, San Francisco, 4
    1974 , America, Tin Man, 4
    1975 , Carpenters, Only Yesterday, 4
    1962 , Rick Nelson, Teenage Idol, 5
    1962 , Rick Nelson, YoungWorld, 5
    1966 , Mamas & Papas, Words of Love, 5
    1967 , Mamas & Papas, CreequeAlley, 5
    1968 , Grass Roots, Midnight Confession, 5
    1968 , Kenny Rogers &, Just Dropped In, 5
    , The First Edition
    1970 , Bobby Sherman, Julie, Do You Love Me?, 5
    1974, Neil Diamond, Longfellow Serenade, 5
    1975, America, Lonely People, 5
    1977, KennyRogers, Lucille, 5
    1962, Rick Nelson, It’s Up to You, 6
    1964, Rick Nelson, ForYou, 6
    1966, Mamas & Papas, I Saw Her Again, 6
    1966, Tommy Roe, Hurray for Hazel, 6
    1969, Kenny Rogers &, Ruby, 6
    , The First Edition
    1969 , Neil Diamond, Holly Holy, 6
    1970 , Barbra Streisand, Stoney End, 6
    1972 , Johnny Rivers, Rockin’ Pneumonia, 6
    1971 , Partridge Family, Doesn’t Somebody, 6
    , , Want to Be Wanted?
    1965 , Johnny Rivers, Seventh Son, 7
    1967 , Fifth Dimension, Up, Up, and Away, 7
    1969 , Simon & Garfunkel, The Boxer, 7
    1971 , Tommy Roe, Stagger Lee, 7
    1972 , Carpenters, Goodbye to Love, 7
    1966 , Gary Lewis/Playboys, Green Grass, 8
    1968 , Boyce & Hart, I Wonder What She’s Doin’, 8
    1969 , Tommy Roe, Jam Up, Jelly Tight, 8
    1972 , America, Ventura Highway, 8
    1972 , Fifth Dimension, Didn’t Get to Sleep at All, 8
    1975, Helen Reddy, No Way to Treat a Lady, 8
    1961, Rick Nelson, Hello, Mary Lou, 9
    1964, Johnny Rivers , Mountain of Love, 9
    1967, Spanky & Our Gang, Sunday Will Never Be the Same, 9
    1969, Bobby Sherman, La La La, 9
    1970, Bobby Sherman, Easy Come, Easy Go, 9
    1971, Grass Roots, Sooner or Later, 9
    1971, Partridge Family, I’ll Meet Ya Halfway, 9
    1973, Art Garfunkel, All I Know, 9
    1973, B.W. Stevenson, My Maria, 9
    1974, Helen Reddy, You and Me Against the World , 9
    1975, Austin Roberts, Rocky, 9
    1978, England Dan & John Ford Coley , We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again , 9
    1982, Sylvia, Nobody, 9
    1967, Johnny Rivers, Tracks of My Tears, 10
    1968, Association, EverythingThat TouchesYou, 10
    1970, Mark Lindsay, Arizona, 10
    1972, Fifth Dimension, If I Could ReachYou, 10
    1976, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Nights Are Forever, 10
    1961, Rick Nelson, A Wonder Like You, 11
    1970, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Somethin’s Burnin’, 11
    1974, Carpenters, I Won’t Last a Day, 11
    1963, Rick Nelson, Fools Rush In, 12
    1964, Johnny Rivers, Maybelle, 12
    1968, Cass Elliott, Dream a Little Dream, 12
    1971, FifthDimension, Never My Love, 12
    1972, Carpenters, It’s Going to Take Some Time, 12
    1972, Austin Roberts, Something’s Wrong With Me, 12
    1973, Helen Reddy, Peaceful, 12
    1976, Carpenters, There’s a Kind of Hush, 12
    1966, Gary Lewis/Playboys, My Heart Symphony, 13
    1968, Fifth Dimension, Sweet Blindness, 13
    1971, Helen Reddy, I Don’t Know How to Love Him , 13
    1972, Partridge Family, I Woke Up in Love, 13
    1967, Johnny Rivers, Summer Rain, 14
    1966, Gary Lewis/Playboys, Paint Me a Picture, 15
    1969, Grass Roots, I’d Wait a Million Years, 15
    1971, Grass Roots, Temptation Eyes, 15
    1974, Helen Reddy, Keep On Singing, 15
    1961, Rick Nelson, EverLovin’, 16
    1967, Fifth Dimension, Go Where You Wanna Go, l 6
    1971, Grass Roots, Two Divided By Love, 16
    1971, Bobby Sherman, Cry Like a Baby, 16
    1981, Carpenters, Touch Me When We’re Dancin’, 16
    1968, Spanky & Our Gang, Like to Get to Know You, 17
    1970, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Tell It to Brother, 17
    1975, Carpenters, Solitaire, 17
    1976, Art Garfunkel, I Only Have Eyes For You, 18
    1966, Johnny Rivers, Muddy Water, 19
    1968, Gary Lewis/Playboys, Sealed With a Kiss, 19
    1969, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, But You Know I Love You, 19
    1970, Glen Campbell, Honey Come Back, 19
    1971, Fifth Dimension, Love Lines, Angels & Rhymes, 19
    1976, Helen Reddy, Somewhere in the Night, 19
    1982, Michael Murphy, What’s Forever For, 19
    1965, Johnny Rivers, Midnight Special, 20
    1967, Mamas & Papas, TwelveThirty, 20
    1969, Fifth Dimension, Workin’ On a Groovy Thing, 20
    1970, Michael Parks, Long Lonesome Highway, 20
    1972, Partridge Family, It’s One of Those Nights, 20
    1977, Olivia Newton John, Sam, 20
    1967, GaryLewis/Playboys , Where Will Words Come From , 21
    1970, Fifth Dimension, Blowing Away, 21
    1977, EnglandDan &, It’s Sad to Belong, 21
    , John Ford Coley
    1975, Helen Reddy, Emotion, 22
    1967, Grass Roots, Things I Should Have Said, 23
    1967, Tommy Roe, It’s Now Winter’s Day, 23
    1969, Glen Campbell, Try a Little Kindness, 23
    1977, England Dan &, Gone Too Far, 23
    , John Ford Coley
    1966, Mamas & Papas, Look Through My Window, 24
    1967, Scott Mackenzie, Like an Old-Time Movie, 24
    1969, Grass Roots, HeavenKnows, 24
    1970, Fifth Dimension, Puppet Man, 24
    1970, Bobby Sherman, Hey, Mr. Sun!, 24
    1963, Rick Nelson, String Along, 25
    1969, Fifth Dimension, California Soul, 25
    1970, Mark Lindsay, Silver Bird, 25
    1976, Carpenters, I Need to Be In Love, 26
    1964, Rick Nelson, The Very Thought of You, 26
    1965, Johnny Rivers, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, 26
    1967, Glen Campbell, By the Time I Get to Phoenix , 26
    1967, Mamas & Papas, Glad to Be Unhappy , 26
    1969, Glen Campbell, Where’s the Playground, Suzie , 26
    1970, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Reuben James, 26

    1968, Boyce & Hart, Alice Long, 27
    1970, Glen Campbell, All I Have to Do is Dream, 27
    1970, Fifth Dimension, Save the Country, 27
    1966, Grass Roots, Where Were You When I Needed You, 28
    1969, Grass Roots, Bella Linda, 28
    1972, Partridge Family, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, 28
    1968, Fifth Dimension, Carpet Man, 29
    1969, Tommy Roe, Heather Honey, 29
    1971, Bobby Sherman, The Drum, 29
    1968, Spanky & Our Gang, Sunday Morning, 30
    1969, Cass Elliott, It’s Getting Better, 30
    1967, Spanky & Our Gang, Make Every Minute Count, 31
    1969, Grass Roots, The River Is Wide, 31
    1971, Glen Campbell, Dream Baby, 31
    1974, Albert Hammond, I’m a Train, 31
    1970, John Philips, Mississippi, 32
    1973, Fifth Dimension, LivingTogether, 32
    1977, Carpenters, Calling Occupants, 32
    1966, Johnny Rivers, Under Your Spell Again, 33
    1970, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Heed the Call, 33
    1976, Olivia Newton John, Don’t Stop Believin’, 33
    1967, Fifth Dimension, Paper Cup, 34
    1972, Grass Roots, Glory Bound, 34
    1973, Neil Diamond, Be, 34
    1974, Art Garfunkel, Second Avenue, 34
    1969, Glen Campbell, TrueGrit, 35
    1970, Grass Roots, Baby, Hold On!, 35
    1973, America, Don’t Cross River, 35
    1975, Helen Reddy, Bluebird, 35
    1977, Carpenters, All You Can Get From Love, 35
    1968, Glen Campbell, I Want to Live, 36
    1969, Glen Campbell, Let It Be Me, 36
    1969, Cass Elliott, Make Your Own Kind of Music, 36
    1972, Fifth Dimension, Together Let’s Find Love, 37
    1974, Art Garfunkel, I Shall Sing, 38
    1975, Johnny Rivers, Blue Suede Shoes, 38
    1967, Boyce & Hart, Out and About, 39
    1968, Association, Time For Lovin’, 39
    1968, Glen Campbell, Gentle On My Mind, 39
    1972, Grass Roots, TheRunaway, 39
    1973, Partridge Family, Look Through the Eyes of Love, 39
    1966, The Turtles, You, Baby, 40
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  13. :) That's inredible!

    It does explain one important thing, though ... I've heard quite a few of those tracks and wondered about that particular "school of" bass playing :meh: . I wondered where all of those bass players got their inspiration from and why their style seemed to die out in the '80s?

    Now I know ... IT WAS ALL RECORDED BY THE SAME MAN !!! :eek:

    Just like when I discovered, only four short years ago, that "Motown bass playing" was James Jamerson :smug:.

    Anyway, thanks to all of you for your input on this one.

    Keep on :bassist:ing on!
  14. Safe to say that if you like the "early '70's lite rock" bass playing then he is your man!
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  15. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Speaking of The Carpenters, I was just over at Cal State Long Beach's Carpenter Performing Arts Center this weekend.

    www. carpenterarts.org

    Link to About

    In the lobby, behind glass, there is the drum set that Karen Carpenter played, and next to it the Wurlitzer keyboard Richard played, lead sheets, and other memorablia. Brought back memories of seeing them on tv decades ago. Made me realize that was decades ago, but the music is still very much alive.
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  16. deaf pea

    deaf pea

    Mar 24, 2005
    Cuernavaca 1 hr S Mexico City
    Seymour Duncan/Basslines SMB-5A Endorsing Artist

    Don't forget Bob Babbitt . . .
  17. :meh: Whoops!

    What I meant to say was, that all of my favourite Motown songs (too many to list), turned out to be played by James.

    Bob was another extraordinary player (still is), but he came along a little later and I didn't really like the actual songs that he got to play on, quite as much as the stuff from the mid-'60s.

    I'd still give up both of my testicles to be able to play like either of those guys, though :eek: !

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  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I grew up listening to Top 40 from the '60s...then the '70s...& so on-

    A lotta 'creativity'/freedom was lost during '80s Pop-dom...in other words, FOR THE MOST PART, guys played 'a part'; back in the day of Jamerson, Babbitt, Kaye, Osborn, Bob Wray, et al...there seemed to be a certain degree of 'jamming/improving' on Top-40 radio.

    Have you noticed that even the most Bubble-gum tunes of yesteryear had some pretty busy bass parts?
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  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    From what I've read-
    "Inner City Blues" was Babbitt...
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  20. Yeah, it's funny, that! :meh:

    I often think that musical standards are "going backwards" (like many other things in this life; craftsmanship, politeness, respect for nature etc.).

    It's like mankind got to a certain level of sophistication in some areas (maybe a few hundered years ago) and then chose to turn his back on it all. Just compare the works (and genius) of the popular classical composers, to any of our modern day "pop musicians". I think I know who has the easier task ;) ! Even comparing "pop" music from the '60s and '70s, to that of today, suggests to me that something vital is missing. Where will it all end :rolleyes: .

    You'd never guess that I've just turned 40, would you? :D

    Anyway, these comments in no way detract from my original point, which was that I'm really impressed with what Mr. Osbourn did with his bass parts on those Carpenters songs, even if there was a "bubble gum element" to some of the music of that time :smug: .
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