It is not a hidden fact that I truly love music. It does not matter what the genre is or who is performing the song….a good song is a good song. It will transcend cultures, languages and ignorance. Now what may not be known is my favorite musical performer and instrument is a bass guitar and the one who plays it. A great bass player is the back bone of a band and the bass playing is the back bone of a song. So, ultimately you want to have a great bass player in your band. Here are my 5 favorite bass players, who are in no real order:
Perhaps my favorite bass player at this time is Marco Hietala from Finland. Marco is currently active in 4 (yes you read that right I typed 4) different bands that are all active. He is the bass player and vocalist for Nightwish, the bass player and vocalist for the band Tarot that was created by him and his brother back in the 80’s, the Finnish cover band The Northern Kings and Sapattivuosi (who is a Black Sabbath tribute band that only sings in Finnish.)
Marco’s bass playing and vocals are very raw sounding and very primal and I think this is what I find appealing. The man can sing a song as well as scream a song but he bass playing is what soldifies the Nightwish and Tarot sound. It is Marco singing vocals on the ballad “Kiss while your lips are still red.” Plus the man sports a MEAN goatee!
Gene Simmons will tell you himself he is not a great bass player, hell he will tell you his not even a good bass player. The difference with him though is that he has a near limitless supply of charisma and stage presence, that you do not even notice. The Demon is maybe the best stage performer out of my top 5, as he does breath fire on to a sword, spit fake blood out at the audience and fly to the top of the lighting rig above the stage to his own stage to sing.
The longtime KISS bass player is the perfect example of someone who does not take anything for granted and no matter how he feels, he guarantees that the audience will see the best show he can put on. Gene also uses two of his own signature bass guitars and they both emit an amazing sound and look awesome. The Gene Simmons signature Punisher Bass and Axe Bass are what The Demon takes on tour with him.
Perhaps the only bass player and maybe even musician to follow the lead of Gene Simmons, is Motley Crue and Sixx A.M. bassist Nikki Sixx. Nikki is the driving and creative force behind the Crue and has branched out into many different areas creatively and in business. He hosts his own radio show, The Sixx Sense,” has written books, works on musical side projects, is an artistic photographer and owns the clothing line “Royal Underground.”
He is also one of the few people who have lived by the Rock N Roll mantra “Sex, drugs and Rock N Roll” and lived to tell the tale, even if he was clinically dead for a few minutes in the 1980’s. If there is one thing I know, it is that I respect Nikki Sixx and recognize that he is a creative driving force and genuis.
One of the most underrated bass players in history is Billy Sheehan. He has played bass for Talas, Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, and Niacin. One thing that sets Billy apart from his comrades in arms is that he can play a “lead bass” role through the use of chording, two-handed tapping, right hand “three finger picking” technique and controlled feedback.
Billy has been voted the “Best Rock Bass Player” readers’ poll from Guitar Player Magazine five times and has also released three solo albums but also reunited with Mr. Big and released a new album with the band in February 2011. Although he does not have the notoriety of other bass players in the music industry, Billy Sheehan is one of the best to ever pick up the instrument.
I had to get one Canadian on the list and a smoking hot women to boot! Melissa Auf der Maur is from Montreal, Quebec and is best known for her bass playing with Courtney Love’s band Hole and for stepping in for The Smashing Pumpkins tour in 2000. She also sang lead vocals and played bass for a Black Sabbath tribute band that she created that was named Hand of Doom.
Melissa is also a well published photographer and has released solo and side projects as well. She even told Billy Corgan that if he ever needs her to step in to the Smashing Pumpkins fold again, that she is ready to go. Melissa attcks the bass with a reckless abandon as her beautiful and haunting eyes peer out from behind her wavy, red hair. She may be a surprise to some, but the women is amazing!