Les Claypool: the 5 basslines that changed my life

Bassist Les Claypool of Primus performs live on stage at Marymoor Park on August 14, 2021 in Redmond, Washington
(Image credit: Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

Best known for exploding out of the Bay Area music scene towards the end of the 1980s with ‘thrash funk’ trio, Primus, Les Claypool is an artist in a vast left-field league of his very own. Yet at the centre of his envelope-shredding music is his astonishing fleet-fingered bass work. 

"I've always said that bass is the crayon I picked out of the box," he says. "I'd still be drawing the same picture if I picked up guitar or whatever, but it'd look a little different."

A master of his instrument to almost other-worldly levels, Claypool is currently promoting a special New Years Eve concert at JaM Cellars Ballroom in Napa, CA, that will see Vinnie Colaiuta guest on drums.

So what are the tracks that Les Claypool, sometime frontman of Primus, solo performer, film-maker, novelist and master collaborator, names as his favorite bass performances? 

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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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