Nashville session ace Dave Roe: “The night I played bass with Jaco Pastorius on drums”

Bassist Dave Roe
(Image credit: Dave Roe)

Dave Roe is a lucky man, as he is the first to admit. His anecdote about auditioning for the late Johnny Cash is proof of that. "I got the gig with him because a friend of mine lied and told him that I was the best slap rockabilly bass player that ever lived. I didn’t have a clue what that was! So I just went out and did it, and he busted me on it.

"He gave me six months to get the style down. There were a lot of other great bass players around and he could easily have got one of them. In fact, some of them were a little miffed at me for a while! It was fascinating. It gave me a place to go and it really saved my career."

Although Roe describes himself back then as "just another guy who banged around on a bass", this didn’t stop him playing with Chet Atkins and others before scooping a place in Cash’s Tennessee Three. "I did ten years with Johnny Cash. He was absolutely the nicest guy I’ve ever worked for or met."

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash perform onstage with their band, including Dave Roe on bass, W.S. Holland on drums and Bob Wootton on guitar in 1994 in Los Angeles, California.

(Image credit: Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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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.

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