Singing Bassists

Cerys Matthews had a feature a few weeks back on the electric and double bass which was of course fascinating. In fact, the notion of such an instrument is a recent one; for many years the bass was merely playing in synch with the cello. It really took jazz musicians to find a separate use for it, in particular the genius that was Charles Mingus, here with his big band showing off the bass qualities of the trombone as well as the string bass itself, with ‘Haitan Fight Song’:

But something that came up several times in the show was the notion that playing bass and singing was incredibly difficult, hence there are very few people who do both. Of course there are plenty of bass players that harmonise in the background, but finding lead singers is a tricky one, so of course I went hunting.

The best known has to be Paul McCartney, and Sting. But there is also Jack Bruce, Phil Lynot of Thin Lizzy, Lemmy of Motorhead and one of the most famous female singers of all time, and one of the hardest to pin down as she was doing heavy rock during the glam era, Suzi Quattro. Here she is with ‘Can the Can’:

Another aspect of this list is – Suzi not withstanding, they are all British – if you allow the inclusion of Irishman Lynnot. Is there something in the water?

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