“It’s Chuck Rainey’s concept of ‘what you don’t play is as important as what you do play’”: After decades of studio sessions with artists ranging from Eric Clapton to Usher, Nathan East reflects on the business of bass

Nathan East of Toto performs live during their 35th Anniversary Tour at the Nippon Budokan on April 28, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

By now, the bass guitar world has grown accustomed to Nathan East breaking new ground – from the R&B/funk dimension he brings to rock god Eric Clapton, to the considerable writing, singing, and soloing skills he displays with jazz über-group Fourplay, to the “real” bass he adds to mechanized Top 40 hits by artists like Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Daft Punk.

As a sideman for over 50 years, there's nothing East hasn't done. Seminal recordings with Lionel Richie, Kenny Loggins, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Elton John, as L.A.'s first-call bassman? Check. Performing and touring across six continents with artists like George Harrison, Sting, Herbie Hancock, and Toto? Done. Co-writing a No. 1 hit – Easy Lover, with Phil Collins and Philip Bailey? Yessir. Somehow, East has also found time to head in the direction of solo artist.

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.