Bassist Spotlight #1: Les Claypool

31 03 2010

Every now and again I’m going to highlight a famous (or not so famous) bassist that I think deserves a bit of recognition.

To begin this series, I’ve chosen one of my all-time favorite bass players, the eclectic and innovative Les Claypool.

Although he’s most famous for his work with his metal-funk band Primus, Claypool has worked with many super-famous musicians throughout his career, including Trey Anastasio, Stewart Copeland, Buckethead, Bernie Worrell and many others.

Les Claypool’s style is unique: He often utilizes very simplified riffs, with a lot of slap-and-pop techniques and heavy thumb work. He’s best known for his low-down-and-dirty licks with heavy rythmic patterns, dissonant chords, harmonics, tapping…you name it.

Here’s a video of one of his most famous solos, “The Awakening”:

Les is also famous for often performing in rather odd attire, most notably his monkey and pig costumes. Here is a video of him playing a bass he invented (called the “Whamola”) while wearing his monkey outfit. The Whamola only has one string, and Les plays it with a drumstick (sorry for the video quality; this footage shows a wide range of the sounds he can get out of this instrument, though):

Needless to say, Les Claypool is pretty damn interesting. His willingness to break away from peoples’ perceptions of bass as a somewhat “limited” instrument, his talent, and his genuine love for playing bass are all qualities to admire.