Top Five Bass PlayersWritten by Matteo Sedazzari
The bass player syncopates with the drummer and the song becomes alive, pulsating with pace and style. We find ourselves mesmerised by the magic and an urge to dance.
Ladies and Gentlemen, ZANI proudly presents our Top 5 bass players. Chosen on the merit of coolness, passion, and ability. May I introduce to you at number one.
Ronnie fondly known as ‘Plonk’ throughout the Rock and Pop world, due to the sound he made when he played the bass. An East London boy who moved from job to job. While working in clothes shop in London’s West End, he hit a sales man with a window pole. Nice move Plonk.
Ronnie found fame (not fortune, sadly he was ripped off in terms of royalties) when he met fellow East London boy about town Steve Marriott. Ronnie and Steve formed one of the greatest and underrated song-writing partnerships of all time, Marriott, & Lane. A team equal to the talents of Lennon & McCartney or Jagger & Richards.
From this partnership, the ultimate mod band was born, The Small Faces. The Small Faces mirrored the clothes, enthusiasm, and attitude of their peers in the sixties. Their popularity did not end with the mods of this era. Today, numerous musicians cite The Small Faces as a major influence.
Ronnie gave The Small Faces a thumping, vibrating and rolling sound. Over the years he bloomed into a respected and fine musician. Listen to Ronnie’s bass playing on The Faces with Rod Stewart to confirm his magnitude.
When Ronnie moved to Austin, Texas in 1985, the town was so chuffed to have him as a resident that they hailed the day he arrived in as ‘Ronnie Lane Day’. How cool is that?
Sadly Ronnie Lane passed away on 4th June 1997, after bravely battling multiple sclerosis. He spent the last years of his life confined to a wheelchair. Plonk, it will take a great man to knock you off the ZANI's number one spot. We doubt it can be done.
Mark Bedford AKA Bedders
The cheeky chappy with the childlike smile, fitted perfectly into Camden Town’s finest band, Madness.
Bedders methodical and moving bass sound, helped to make Madness, the masters of the pop single. From ‘One Step Beyond’ to ‘Mad not Mad’, and you will hear a fine musician at work. Confirmation of his greatness is the magnificent beefy bass slide intro on ‘Our House’, simply breath taking.
Bedders is an unassuming individual and a man of impeccable taste in clothes. Gaining stylish status as well as flair. Morrissey liked the talent of Bedders so much, that he asked him to work on his ‘Kill Uncle’ album.
When Bedders is not playing the bass with Madness, he follows his other passion of graphic design. A true pop genius.
The Sugarhill Gang loved Bernard Edward’s bass line on Chic’s ‘Good Times’ so much that they decided to steal the hook. They used it for their classic ground breaking rap single ‘Rapper’s Delight’. However the boys forgot to ask for Bernard’s permission.
When Bernard heard ‘Rapper’s Delight’ for the first time at the famous New York club Studio 54, he thought that it was a DJ rapping over the bass line of ‘Good Times’. When Bernard realised that he was being ripped off, he sought the blood of the Sugarhill Gang.
The heavies of the Sugarhill Gang retaliated by putting a gun to the head of the co- songwriter of ‘Good Times’. Little did they know, that Bernard Edward’s lawyer had strong Mafia connections.
The result was The Sugarhill Gang’s heavies paying Bernard Edwards and his musical partner Nile Rogers, half million dollars in used notes. There was peace on the streets of New York that night. Bernard Edwards famously partnered the guitar great (featured in PEOM TOP 5 Guitar Stances) Nile Rogers. The pair first met in 1972, in the Big Apple Band. They had a number one hit with ‘A Fifth of Beethoven’. The song was later featured in the soundtrack of the film ‘Saturday Night Fever’.
Inspired by their success, they went on to form Chic. Work with Sister Sledge and write and produce Diana Ross 1980 Album ‘Diana’.
Bernard and Nile had a working partnership up until 1998. Then the world was tragically robbed of the talent and flair of Bernard Edwards. His untimely death in Japan was due to a sudden heart attack, whilst on tour with Chic.
We may have lost Bernard, but his funky and groovy bass playing will inspire generations for years to come. The bass break in ‘Le Freak’ is pure soul, New York style.
Damon Minchella is the ‘Long Haired Lover from Liverpool’, who steams from Italian Heritage. He came to prominence in the mid- nineties with Ocean Colour Scene.
Damon is champion of the crease free Brutus shirt, nice slacks and dashing good looks. Which makes him a bit of heart throb with the ladies. Damon often looks clumsy whilst playing the bass, yet the sound that comes out is booming and energetic. Damon merged with Paul Weller’s band as the main bass player, and to date he still plays bass with Monsieur Weller. The PEOM boys last saw Damon playing with Weller at Guildfest. We were amazed that his shirt remained crease free throughout the gig.
Pete Townsend of The Who, asked Damon to fill the shoes of the sadly departed John Entwistle (another great bass player). The lad took to it, like a duck to water. Even after a performance with the Granddads of Mod, Damon still left the stage with his shirt immaculate.
In addition with his busy schedule (and demanding ironing load) Damon stills find time to play with the super group ‘The Players’, Aziz Ibrahim (guitar), Mick Talbot (keyboards) and Steve White (drums). An array of some of the UK’s finest musicians.
JJ delivers a brutal, distorted and aggressive bass line. It gave (and still gives) The Stranglers a distinctive, raw, furious sound. A great example of JJ’s distinguishing thud, is the opening bass riff in the Strangler’s cover of ‘Walk On By’, an angry young man’s anthem.
JJ is a black belt in karate and wanted to study the marital art in greater depth. However Hugh Cornwell, founder of The Stranglers, stepped in and persuaded JJ to join his band. You can hear JJ’s karate chopping those bass strings. Remember kids do not mess with JJ.
Because the bass player is not an unsung hero, but a vital piece in the jigsaw of a band. Every member knows their part and plays their chosen instrument with passion. While we the listeners are given the pure rock and roll, music with energy and attitude.
© - Matteo Sedazzari
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