You’re good at your job. You must be otherwise you wouldn’t have one. You turn up every day and you give it your all to make sure that your part of the giant machine that is the organisation you work for, functions as a well-oiled and efficient unit.
Working in an office is a bit like being the bass player in a band in that nobody really notices what you do on a daily basis, but if you so much as take your foot off the gas, everyone will wonder why everything has suddenly fallen apart.
Much like your job, being a bass player is a thankless existence that requires an inhuman level of humility as you watch the singer and guitarist spend their song writing royalties on new mansions and private jets whilst you, the humble bassist are still saving up for a new plectrum.
In recognition of their plight, we have drawn up a list of some of the greatest ever proponents of lower frequency sound creation who, just like you, are pretty amazing at what they do for a living but don’t always get the recognition they deserve:
1. Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
In 2009, Rolling Stone readers ranked Flea the 2nd best bassist of all time, behind only John Entwistle and in 2012 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the other members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Standout basslines: “Higher Ground” (Mother’s Milk, 1989), “By the Way” (By the Way, 2002).
2. Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave)
Tim Commerford is best known as the bassist and backing vocalist for US rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, and supergroups Audioslave and Prophets of Rage. Since 2013 and 2015, he has also been the lead singer and bassist of the bands Future User and WAKRAT, respectively and was ranked eighth on Paste magazine’s list of “20 Underrated Bass Guitarists” in 2014.
Standout Basslines: “Wake up” and “Bombtrack” (Rage Against the Machine, 1992).
3. Marcus Miller
Marcus Miller is an American jazz composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known as a bass guitarist and has worked with such musical luminaries as trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Herbie Hancock, singer Luther Vandross, and saxophonist David Sanborn.
Standout basslines: “Detroit” (Renaissance 2012), “Introduction” (Silver Rain 2005).
4. Sting (The Police)
Sting became one of the world’s best-selling music artists with his band The police. Solo and with The Police combined, he has sold over 100 million records. In 2006, Paste ranked him 62nd of the 100 best living songwriters and he was 63rd of VH1’s 100 greatest artists of rock and 80th of Q magazine’s 100 greatest musical stars of the 20th century.
Standout basslines: “Walking on the moon” (Regatta de Blanc 1979), “Every little thing she does is magic” (Ghost in the Machine 1981).
5. Chris Wolstenholme (Muse)
Chris Wolstenholme is the bassist and backing vocalist for the rock band Muse. Wolstenholme wrote and sang two songs on the album The 2nd Law, “Liquid State” and “Save Me” and his overdriven, distorted fuzz bass sound is often the central motif in many of Muse’s recordings.
Standout basslines: “Hysteria” (Absolution 2003) “Hyper Music” (Origin of Symetry 2001).
6. Cliff Burton (Metallica)
Clifford Lee “Cliff” Burton was the second bass guitarist for the American band Metallica from December 1982 until his death in September 1986. Burton died in a bus accident in Kronoberg County, a rural area of southern Sweden, as the band was touring in support of their Master of Puppets album. He was also posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Metallica on April 4, 2009 and was also selected as the ninth greatest bassist of all time in an online reader poll organized by Rolling Stone magazine in 2011.
Standout Basslines: “For whom the bell tolls” (Ride the Lightening 1985), “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)” (Kill ‘em all 1983).
7. Bootsy Collins
William Earl “Bootsy” Collins rose to prominence with James Brown in the early 1970s, and later with Parliament-Funkadelic. Collins’s driving bass guitar and humorous vocals helped to establish him as one of the leading names in the world of funk. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with 15 other members of the band Parliament-Funkadelic.
Standout Basslines: “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” (1970) “Mothership Connection” (Mothership Connection 1975).
8. Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads)
Tina Weymouth was a founding member of the new wave group Talking Heads and its side project Tom Tom Club which she co-founded with husband and Talking Heads drummer, Chris Frantz. Her unique mix of funk syncopation, post-punk sparseness and melodic invention helped to give Talking Heads their distinctive, jittery style of groove.
Standout basslines: “Psycho Killer” (Talking Heads: 77 1977) “Once in a lifetime” (Remain in Light 1981).
9. Aston “Family Man” Barrett (The Wailers)
Aston “Family man” Barrett got his nickname for being the bandleader and chief arranger of Bob Marley’s backing group The Wailers. His iconic grooves and melodic hooks can also be heard on recordings by other Reggae legends such as Lee “Scratch” Perry and Augustus Pablo.
Standout basslines: “Stir it up” (Catch a Fire 1973), “Jammin” (Babylon by Bus 1978).
10. Kim Deal (Pixies, The Breeders)
Kim Deal is best known as the former bassist and backup vocalist of the alternative rock band Pixies, and the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Breeders. Despite Deal’s minimal style being often smothered by the graceful noise that surrounded her, her awesome power as a bassist is widely credited as the key element that held The Pixies’ overall sound together.
Standout basslines: “Here comes your man” (Doolittle 1989), Cannonball (Last Splash 1993).