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Who's Your Favorite Zappa Bassist?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by hieronymous, Mar 31, 2004.

Who's Your Favorite Zappa Bassist?

Poll closed Apr 14, 2004.
  1. Roy Estrada

  2. Patrick O'Hearn

  3. Arthur Barrow

  4. Scott Thunes

  5. Erroneous

  6. James "Bird Legs" Youman

    0 vote(s)
  7. Tom Fowler

  8. Max Bennett

  9. Dave Parlato

    0 vote(s)
  10. Jim Pons

    0 vote(s)
  11. Shuggie Otis

  12. Never listened to Frank Zappa

  1. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Found this really interesting site for Arthur Barrow:


    So it got me thinking about Zappa bassists. Some will look familiar, others are really obscure. I definitely have my favorites - how about yours? (For the sake of simplicity you can only choose one)

    Technical stuff:

    This list is not exhaustive - I'm sure I missed a couple. I stuck with the main guys that played on multiple albums and even included Shuggie Otis because, even though he only played on one song, that one song was "Peaches en Regalia"

    I used the following website to brush up on my Zappa bassist knowledge:


    Some great stuff there - unbelievably detailed!!! The best for me was putting a face and name to "Erroneous" the great bassist on Waka Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo, and some of Apostrophe (').
  2. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Great thread!!!


    Makes me realize how little I know about the pantheon!
    Hoochie Coochie Man likes this.
  3. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Amazon Product Designer
    all of the above!

    sorry can't choose.


    jerry likes this.
  4. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Amazon Product Designer
    nice 8 string tune!

  5. That's a neat site w/ lots of scholarship to it. I couldn't pick as all Zappa's bands were great. Someone gave me The best band you Never Heard " But I haven't really gotten around to listening to it. Scott Thunes on Bass. I just picked up a copy of Blood Sweat & Tears 2nd album and Jim Fielder really cooks on it.
    47th Street likes this.
  6. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I voted Tom Fowler based on the belief that he played on most Sheik Yerbouti, but really I only know for sure that he played bass on Muffin Man. Oh well, that was one of the first tunes I learned on bass by ear, so Tom gets my vote.
    As a side note - I have more of an obsession with Zappa's singers than anything. Does anybody know of a site that can help me figure out what name goes with what voice - maybe even put a face to it?
  7. mark beem

    mark beem Wait, how does this song start again?? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    Niether can I!!! :p
  8. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Do you have a general time period that you're thinking of? Because they recently released "Does Humor Belong in Music?" on DVD. I recommend it with hesitation, mainly because it's mostly what I call the "novelty" tunes. Only 2 guitar solos from Frank (on Zoot Allures - my favorite track - and Whipping Post). Interview snippets that are interesting. No bonus tracks.

    It's from a concert at the Pier in NYC, August 1984. Scott Thunes on bass - it was really interesting to see footage of him playing, you can hear him pretty well in the mix IMO - he's a friend of a friend, so I've met him very briefly, but this is the first time I've seen him play (uses mostly a P-bass, and a Jazz on a song or two). The main vocalists are Frank himself, Ike Willis, Bobby Martin, and Ray White. I was suprised by some of who sang what - Frank does all the "Moo-aahhh"s (I thought Ike Willis did!), and Bobby Martin sings "Whipping Post" (thought it was Ray White).

    I thought it was worth it, even if it isn't necessarily my favorite Zappa period. But even so, I considered it a priviledge to see Zappa performing. I have friends a little older than me that actually saw him perform. I was kind of suprised how weird Zappa's picking technique is - he seems to be holding a metal pick and picks up by the fretboard. If you like this period, then by all means pick it up!

    Also, the United Mutations website is really an amazing resource - you may have to hunt around a bit to find what you're looking for, but a lot of it is there.

  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...that's a great Pop record!
    In addition to the Top-40 hits("Spinning Wheel", "God Bless The Child", "And When I Die", "You've Made Me So Very happy")...Check out "Smilin' Phases"! FWIW, look into picking up BS&T's 1st 4 albums with Fielder.

    Back on topic- ;)
    I voted for O'Hearn...Fowler would be a close 2nd.
  10. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Amazon Product Designer
    i like the bass playing on Roxy and Elsewhere!!!

    i was lucky enough to see FZ in 1972, 1976 and 1980.



    oh, i phone interviewed (live - on air) him in 1987.
    47th Street likes this.
  11. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Hmm, Erroneous still only has one vote. He plays on two of my all-time favorite Zappa tracks, "Waka-Jawaka" from the album of the same name, and "Eat That Question" from "The Grand Wazoo".

    Actually, the somewhat recently released package, "Frank Zappa Threesome Vol. 2" puts together two of the big band albums from the 70s, "The Grand Wazoo" and "Waka Jawaka", with "Hot Rats", which contains the classic "Peaches en Regalia" (with Shuggie Otis on bass!) and Willie the Pimp. All three albums lean heavily towards the instrumental side. Might make a good introduction for those that aren't familiar with Zappa (plus you get to hear Erroneous, Shuggie Otis and Max Bennett on bass!). I gotta admit, though, "Roxy and Elsewhere" isn't a bad place to start either...

    Trivia Question: What is Erroneous's real name? :ninja:
  12. That's a hard choice to make!!! everyone of them had their specialty but Patrick O'hearn has my vote... :bassist:
    alack likes this.
  13. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    OK everybody, this poll's gonna close in a few days!!! Thanks to everybody that voted! Good to see that people are aware of some of these amazing players, like Scott Thunes and Arthur Barrow and Tom Fowler.

    Realized a couple of people I could have listed but didn't:

    Jack Bruce - never really "Zappa's bassist", he did play classic distorted bass on Apostrophe '

    Jeff Berlin - I had no idea he had any connection to Zappa. Berlin called Zappa a "mediocre guitarist" in his Bass Player column after Frank died. Found out later he auditioned for Zappa's band at one point. I think he was rejected? There was a post about it on BunnyBass.com back a while ago...

    Make sure to vote! Oh yeah, vote in the next presidential election too if you're in the US...
  15. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    While I used to own a dub of a VHS copy, I received the DVD of Baby Snakes as a belated birthday present over the weekend. After watching Patrick O Hearn with his fretless P Bass, I realized how many of his licks I've stolen! :ninja:


    Fred--you're old! :p ;)
  16. hippiesandwich


    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products
    Been listening to Scott Thunes on "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 3", awesome work especially on "Keep It Greasy".
  17. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    That's why I voted for him.
  18. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Alex Dmochowski. He played with Aynsley Dunbar, among others, prior to doing the recordings with FZ. My guess is that he experienced a lot of misspelled/mispronounced name problems which may have accounted for his alias.
  19. BrenBrenb7


    Apr 21, 2004
    zappa rocks
  20. norseman


    Feb 19, 2004

    If that's the same song that appears on "Broadway the hard way" from 1989, You have no idea how jealous I am right now ;)

    God, how I miss FZ..... Pure genius....

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