They may not get the glory like lead singers and guitarists but any great rock band you can think of usually has a great bass player holding down the low end. Ever since Leo Fender introduced the Precision Bass in 1951, rock bands have anchored their rhythm sections around the 4-string electric bass guitar, replacing the unwieldy, acoustic double bass with it’s more portable and easily amplified offspring. Initially relegated to the back of the bandstand, Paul McCartney in The Beatles and The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson helped raise the instruments’ profile in the early 1960s and when Cream’s Jack Bruce plugged his Gibson EB-3 into a Marshall amplifier stack, bassists were ready to take on those pesky guitarists in the volume wars. Take a gander at these master bassists, old and new, and see if you can recognize them just by their instruments.
Though always the bassist in his legendary original band, this 4-stringer also played lead guitar on several notable recordings of theirs.
Before playing in one of the biggest rock bands of all-time this bassist was an in demand session musician playing on records by The Rolling Stones and Donovan among others.
Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones met future-Zep guitarist Jimmy Page when they were both doing session work in London studios.Though known by a different moniker in his band, this Canadian bassist was born Gary Lee Weinrib. Rush’s Geddy Lee is the child of Polish immigrants. His mother’s heavy Polish accent led to the mispronunciation of his given name as “Geddy” and it stuck as a nickname. This bass slinging rock n’ roll legend got his start as a roadie for one of the greatest guitarists in history. Motorhead mainman Lemmy was a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience when he first moved to London in the late 1960s. This singer-songwriter-bassist is also known for his movie roles in addition to his successful music career. Police bassist Sting first appeared in the movie Quadrophenia in 1979, which led to many other film roles over the years. This bassist not only played in one of the 1980’s most influential bands but also produced the seminal debut album by another famed alt rock group. Kim Gordon started Sonic Youth with then-boyfriend Thurston Moore in 1981 and also produced Hole’s first record, Pretty on the Inside. This bassist had the honor of joining two of his all-time favorite bands. Jason Newsted was a major Metallica fan before replacing deceased bass legend Cliff Burton. After leaving that band he played with progressive thrashers Voivod, another of his favorites. Though best known as a member of one of the biggest L.A. metal bands of all-time, this bassist got his start in punk rock bands in his native Seattle. Before playing bass in Guns N’ Roses and later Velvet Revolver, Duff McKagen played in such bands as The Fastbacks and The Fartz. Not only was this bassist in one of the 1990s greatest bands, he’s also one of the tallest musicians in rock n’roll. 6’7” bassist Krist Novoselic formed Nirvana with Kurt Cobain in 1987 in the remote logging town of Aberdeen, Washington. This Bay Area punk rocker has his own Fender Precision bass signature model. Fender guitars introduced the Mike Dirnt Precision Bass in 2004 in honor of the Green Day bassist.