The most notable bass players in music history are….

Every Tuesday at the office we have a thing we call 5 O’Clock Somewhere.  It’s the one hour a week our entire staff can get in the same room at the same time to brainstorm.  We usually even have a beer or two.  It’s our creative time together.  This week the topic of bass players came up.  I posted something on facebook about it.  And it exploded.  Apparently people are passionate about their bass players.  Who knew? 🙂

Co-worker Steve Baker, with help from his intern, tallied the results of the online poll.  We have now settled the argument of who are the most notable bass players of all time.  Here’s Steve’s recap of it all….


The question in Tuesday’s Deep South staff meeting was:  “Who is the most notable bass player(s) in the history of music?”  We even argued over the wording of the question, and how that might affect the outcome.  Instead of “notable” . . . Who is the “best?”  Who is the most “influential” — and, so on.

We settled on “notable,” and put it to the people.  As a staff, we were pretty much dead on in agreement with your top picks.  (Well . . . except for the one employee who picked Adam Clayton of U2, who got but one vote.)

There were 94 different bassists mentioned, from every conceivable style.  One might assume, given Deep South’s more rock-oriented pedigree, the results from our friends would favor the rock bassists.  Had the company a more predominantly R&B-related or jazz-related history the results could have been dramatically different.  That said, here are the top mentions from roughly 250 contributors to the survey:

1st – Geddy Lee (Rush)

2nd – Paul McCartney

Tied for 3rd – John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and John Entwistle (The Who)

5th – Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report)

6th – James Jamerson (Motown session legend)

7th – Les Claypool (Primus)

Tied for 8th – Victor Wooten (Béla Fleck and the Flecktones) and Duck Dunn (Booker T. & the M.G.’s)

Tied for 10th – Bootsy Collins (Parliament Funkadelic), Stanley Clarke (Return to Forever), and Jack Bruce (Cream)

While we gratuitously banned The Ret Hot Chili Pepper’s iconic bassist from consideration, Flea still managed several protest votes — including the very first response, cleverly submitted as, “Michael Balzary.”  Which happens to be Flea’s real name.  (Well played, Brett Christensen!)

Notable mentions include a handful of local bass heroes: Bobby Patterson (Dag); Bert Rogers (Smile); and Grant Alexander Emerson (Delta Rae).  Our own Dave Rose (Hot Skillet Lickers) even garnered two ‘suck-up’ votes.

While Geddy Lee was almost certain to be the runaway winner, it was great to see James Jamerson acknowledged by our more rock-oriented crowd — as well as jazz legend, Jaco Pastorius.  The overall list of 94 different bassists was a well-rounded Who’s Who of the greatest names to ever hold down the bottom, in all styles — from jazz to metal — including little-known session geniuses, like Carol Kaye, to the most in-demand sideman in history, Lee Sklar.  Still, one can’t help but wonder how drastically the results might have differed if the question had been asked, “Who’s the best?”  Or, “Who was most influential?”  Or, if the question had been asked of a British, European or more international audience — a jazz crowd, or of R&B fans?  Nonetheless . . . it was great fun to see all the responses, and thanks to all who took the time to jump in!

One Response so far.

  1. […] bass player(s) in the history of music.  And then we subsequently posted partial results here on .  Many of you spoke up wanting to know the full and final voting count.  Well, here ya have […]

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