Tommy Cogbill’s 1966 Fender P-Bass, reportedly used to record with Elvis, is going up for auction with an estimate of $100,000

The Memphis Boys with Elvis Presley
(Image credit: Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)

A Fender Precision Bass that was once played by Elvis Presley is set to go under the hammer with an auction estimate of $100,000 – $150,000.

Offered as part of the latest Gotta Have Rock and Roll auction, the 1966 P-Bass belonged to top Memphis session player Tommy Cogbill, and comes with provenance from the family and a letter of authenticity. There are also photos of Elvis playing around with the bass at American Sound Studio, where he recorded with Cogbill in 1969.

As a member of the studio house band, informally known as The Memphis Boys, Cogbill went on to play bass on four albums with Elvis, closing with hits like Suspicious Minds, Don’t Cry Daddy, In The Ghetto and Kentucky Rain.

Prior to joining The Memphis Boys, Cogbill worked numerous dates around Nashville, New York, and especially at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. His inventive, in-the-pocket basslines were essential to the success of classic R&B hits like Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Wilson Pickett’s Land of 1000 Dances, and Memphis Soul Stew by King Curtis.

Talking to BP magazine in 2006, Nashville session bassist Michael Rhodes said: “Tommy played bass on all the great Atlantic stuff, like Funky Broadway. After a cut, when he had played something outstanding and compliments were paid, he never claimed all the credit. He always passed credit around, but his dynamic interpretation on bass guitar was uncanny; his sense of time was amazing."

Cogbill’s trademark busy-yet-unimposing bass playing also graced Dusty Springfield’s 1969 hit Son of A Preacher Man. “What strikes me is how sparse and laid back that track is, except for Tommy's bassline,” said Rhodes. “He takes up the bulk of the real estate and you can hear everyone sort of following Tommy because he’s really in the zone, right in the middle of the pocket.”

Tommy Cogbill’s 1966 Fender P-Bass was a production model with a double-cutaway alder body and a three-tone sunburst finish. Coupled with an Ampeg B-15, Cogbill tracked some of the most iconic bass tones in studio history. 

“Tommy Cogbill’s profile has always been subdued – as he wanted it to be," says Rhodes. "However, from a historical perspective, he should be listed among the top-five most important popular-music bassists of the last century." 

1966 Fender P-Bass

(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)

The auction is set to take place on June 30. For more info visit gottahaverocknroll.com.

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Nick Wells
Writer

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.