“James would always try to break you down. Any time you played a great gig, he'd call you into his dressing room and say, ‘You just ain't on it. You ain't on the one!’” If you play funk, you owe Bootsy Collins – the bass legend who played with James Brown

Bassist Bootsy Collins performs at PNC Music Pavilion on July 22, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We feature some bona fide bass guitar legends here, but very few come with a pedigree quite like William Collins, or Bootsy as he's known to the entire bass-playing world (and significant chunks of it beyond).

If you're familiar with the man and his playing, you'll know what a force of nature he is, epitomising the stagecraft of the era in which he grew up, and laying down the parameters of the slap and the pop for a generation of bassists.

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Joel McIver

Joel McIver was the Editor of Bass Player magazine from 2018 to 2022, having spent six years before that editing Bass Guitar magazine. A journalist with 25 years' experience in the music field, he's also the author of 35 books, a couple of bestsellers among them. He regularly appears on podcasts, radio and TV.