Why Stanley Clarke’s School Days remains an iconic moment in bass playing history

Jazz bassist Stanley Clarke performs with The New Barbarians at The Omni Coliseum on May 10, 1979 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Image credit: Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)

You can count on your fingers the bass players whose legacy comes close to Stanley Clarke, once of the fusion band Return To Forever and since then a constant collaborator with the great and the good of music. A jazz pioneer, Clarke has done more for the electric bass guitar than almost anybody else.

"I saw Stanley Clarke one night on The Midnight Special TV show when I was a teenager and I was floored by how he would open and close his right hand, almost strumming and plucking the bass in one smooth stroke," recalls former-Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. "He was probably the fastest ‘lead bass guitarist’ I had ever seen take a solo!"

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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.