Top 10 Rock Bassists Of All Time – See Who Made The List
You know what they say, you’re not a bassist unless you understand that having calluses is an undeniably necessary evil. 🙂 The struggle is real people, that’s why we had to compile the top 10 best bass players of all time. They need to be given the recognition. After all, it’s not easy lugging their amp around:
10. John Myung of Dreamtheater
He’s got some incredible stamina! I don’t know about you but seeing his bass solo in Metropolis just blew me away. Somehow, John makes it look impossibly easy but when you try to break it down and learn how he does it, you’re in for some painful realization that only HE can do it. He plays every piece with absolute perfection. There’s not much theatrics to his performance but it’s so wicked you just can’t stop listening. He’s reached that level when his shredding just does all the talking. The technical proficiency blows me away every single time. I mean, if you’ve seen this guy perform live, it’s unbelievable. How can something sound almost trans-dimensional? He’s humble and a tad bit underrated but hey, it’s impossible not to hear the magic when he plays. Perfect timing, perfect technique and looking effortless while doing his solos – okay, I’m now convinced he’s not human.
9. John Deacon of Queen
Now here’s THE guy with an amazing sense of melody. I personally love all their earlier stuff; you know John and his funky tunes. Nevertheless, one of the most notable things about Queen’s bassist is that his solos are always hard to play — ALWAYS. And let’s not forget the time he threw his bass guitar at the end of their live performance of “Radio Ga Ga.” There are still speculations as to WHY he did but I guess it’s safe to say, he just dropped the bass. Lol, but seriously, John is a special soul. Remember his bass solo in “Liar”? Man, that was epic. A solid player with an awesome tone, he definitely deserves a whole lot more credit and appreciation especially since he’s the silent power of Queen (not to mention secretly one of the coolest members of the band). His contribution to their music will never go unnoticed.
8. Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers
Funk rhythm, anyone? Sometimes, you look at Flea’s bass and it seems like he has 100 strings under his fingers. During a recent interview, he said: “A lot of times, especially recently, I look at rock music as kind of a dead form in a lot of ways.” If it were any other musician, we would’ve reacted to that piece of comment. But this is Flea we’re talking about — he knows rock music like the back of his hand. I could listen to this maestro all day long. I just love how he gets caught up in his music – ah, those divine solos. And his groove is so brilliant! Remember the heavy metal guitarist from the Mad Max movie? Yeah, well he reminds me of how Flea’s always on fire when he’s playing his solos. It always makes me think, “That poor bass.” I guess he’s too good for this world. Slap it, Flea!
7. Les Claypool of Primus
Ladies and gentlemen, the Chuck Norris of Bass. For the record, I don’t have the slightest idea why Les Claypool didn’t land the bassist gig when he auditioned for Metallica. It’s probably because he dominates every other sound. He’s always taking it to another level. I don’t recall listening to his bass solos and not thinking how brilliant he is. He’s always so precise in everything — his fret work and thumb slap techniques are both off-the-charts! He’s easily one of the top bassists of all time. He can blow anyone out of the water – that’s just how he is. He’s phenomenal and undoubtedly a bass god. What a beast! If you haven’t seen his live performances, you have clearly missed out on a great deal. An absolute killer on the bass guitar – I tried watching his solo and I ended up picking my jaw from the floor. Yep, that’s how awesome he is.
6. Cliff Burton of Metallica
Cliff always gave his bass guitars a bit of beating and for good reason! Whenever I listen to some of his solos, I think of one thing: SICK TONE. He created magic with his fingers and he was always a badass on stage. Nobody can top that! In fact, he’s so good people have reported seeing lightning bolts coming out of his bass! He’s a revolutionary player and there’s no way you can listen to his solos and not be mesmerized. And yeah, he can headbang with the best of them. Raw talent and a real badass on stage – no wonder everyone likes him! Oh and did you know he was more than an incredibly great musician? Cliff’s an all-around good guy too. It’s mind-boggling to think how good he would be today if he were still alive. Thank you Cliff for all the musical masterpieces you have given us.
5. Steve Harris of Iron Maiden
I have never listened to Steve without wanting to hit the replay button again and again. His epic bass lines and solos are enough to make you explode in their sheer awesomeness. Really, how many fingers does this dude have? He can easily overpower two guitarists on stage. An absolute beast on bass. But the thing is, Steve is no show off even though he’s basically the one who brought this instrument into the heavy metal spotlight. Besides, he’s the mastermind behind Iron Maiden. We owe plenty of their masterpieces to this musical genius. Enough said. Although he may not be as flamboyant as other bassists, his passion for music is almost palpable. His solos give me goosebumps – always wicked and almost unreal. What did we do to deserve Steve? He’s a real inspiration and makes me want to start playing bass – not that I’d ever come close to what he can do.
4. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin
Ah, yes. The underrated yet highly addictive bass lines of John Paul Jones. If there’s anyone who doesn’t like them, especially his solos, I’d like to personally talk to those guys and ask them what’s the problem. 🙂 I understand that you can’t please everyone but there’s no accounting for poor taste. Lol. He always deserved his rock ‘n roll moment. I mean, he didn’t just bring the ‘funk’ to Led Zeppelin’s music, but he’s got that lovely addictive bass tone and amazing feel — yep, coming only from the hands of this master. He’s one of the finest musicians to ever walk this Earth and somehow, he always finds a way to stand out. He’s the real deal, people. Very few players get on JPJ’s degree of brilliance. From the sound down to the groove, it’s always jaw-dropping and melodic. He’s a virtuoso and it always makes me think, he could be Led Zeppelin’s ‘secret weapon.’
3. Paul McCartney of The Beatles
The Bass God is here, I repeat, the Bass God is here. He didn’t just invent the best bass lines in the history of rock ‘n roll but he managed to make the grooviest and most moving ones. It’s always sweet, creative and melodic — but that’s not really surprising given the fact that he’s a Beatle, legendary singer and songwriter. Therefore, it goes without saying, Paul’s a musical genius. He plays the bass like no other – that’s raw and unadulterated talent. He practically cleared a new path for bass players to follow. Looking at him, playing seemed easy. It’s like the music’s just pouring out of him. Then again, this is the same guy who gave us the most unforgettable songs. Have you seen the video where Paul’s giving free lessons on how to play the bass? Well in addition to being one of the greatest bassist in music history, he also happens to be an awesome teacher.
2. John Entwistle of The Who
For all that incredible speed and tone, John is probably the busiest man in the band. He’s got amazing style and sound and it makes you thankful that humanity has been blessed with the music of The Ox. He can play the craziest licks and riffs and still look so chill and nonchalant — like it’s nothing but a piece of cake! All he needs to do is yawn. J He does it like a boss. Dang, he sure oozed talent and confidence. He’s deeply musical and always has that unmistakable sound to his solos. Come on, you can still hear his bass tone underneath all those other sounds. That’s amazing and very difficult to accomplish! Most people call him the ‘Jimi Hendrix of Bass’ and they could be right. But one thing’s for sure, nobody played the bass like The Ox – with plenty of emphasis on NOBODY. That’s why he’s a legend.
1. Geddy Lee of RUSH
Les Claypool summed it up when he said: “If it wasn’t for Geddy Lee, I probably wouldn’t be playing bass.” And that speaks volumes of how much talent there is in Geddy’s fingers. He can teach everyone a thing or two about playing with soul and not being too technical because sometimes, my friends, less is more. Just look at him. There are no tricks – just pure talent and incredible sound. And others can’t even keep up. My favorite part in his solos is ALL OF IT, by the way. It’s like you’re listening to something not of this world. I can only wish I had even a drop of his skill because it’s like every guitar goes to retirement after just one song. It’s excellent from start to finish. With every live performance, he always looks like he’s having the time of his life. We are looking upon a God. Period.