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How I Got Sacked From The First Real Band I Was In...

Back in the day before Al Gore invented the Internet, every music store had a noticeboard where you could find hand written ads for instruments, where teachers would advertise for pupils.

And where you could find Bands looking for players.

At the time I lived in Birmingham in the UK. And back then there were a number of good music shops around the city.  Birmingham even had a bass only music store.I found an ad for the first real band I joined in that shop.  It gave a phone number. And said what kind of player they were looking for.

I called the guy whose number was on the ad – a guy called Lee who turned out to be the drummer.  He told me a bit more about the band – they were a local funky-rock band (think “Kiss” and “Sexy MF” style Prince) whose name I knew as they’d placed well in ‘battle of the band” style competitions in the area.

And they were holding open auditions a couple of weeks later.  I booked a slot and got the names of a couple of songs to learn for the audition.

Fast forward two weeks and the audition came and went. I got a call back to go and have a beer with the guys and a week or so later got a call that if I was still interested then I was their new bass player!

I remember at the time being really excited.  These guys had some big ambitions and they’d given me a cassette tape (yep, that’s how ‘back in the day’ it was) with the 4 or 5 songs they’d written that they wanted me to learn.  Plus there was the songs I’d learned for the auditions too.

The first rehearsal was going really well.  We played through the songs they’d given me – both the originals and the covers.  And the drummer made a couple of rhythmic suggestions for the lines I’d learned and we incorporated those straight away.

…until the lead singer said to the guitarist: let’s start working on that song we wrote on Saturday.

Lee – the drummer – gives a count in.

And they start playing.

A few bars in the singer signals them to stop playing .  And everyone looks at me.

Them: Why aren’t you playing?

Me: Um.  I don’t know the song.

Them: Jam along.

Me:  (Gulps) Ok.  What key is the song in?

The guitarist rolled his eyes.  Song turns out to be in E.

Me: What kind of line do you want me to play?

More eye rolling.  The technical description of what they wanted ended up as: like the other songs.  Only in E.  And to fit this song.

What followed was about 10 of the most excruciating minutes of my playing life.

The rehearsal came to a shuddering end pretty soon afterwards.

A day later I got a phone call saying that I wouldn’t be needed at the rehearsal the following week.  And that was it. I was sacked!

The following weekend I scoured the local music shops to see if there were any books available on how to create bass lines so that I could try and work out how to avoid this situation happening in the future.

The only bass books available at the time were the Carol Kaye books. And Tony Oppenheim’s SLAP IT! So that was a strike out.

This was about 87 or 88.

Here's the crazy thing: despite the explosion in available bass literature and courses - plus all the free YouTube videos and tabs - since the early 90s there's STILL NOTHING THAT TEACHES A BASS PLAYER WHAT MAKES A GOOD BASS LINE AND HOW TO PUT ONE TOGETHER!

I've spent the last 10 years deconstructing and decoding the bass lines of players like Jamerson, McCartney, Entwistle, Rocco, John Paul Jones, Tommy Shannon, Billy Cox (wi Hendrix), Dee Murray (wi Elton John) and dozens more.

And there are four key pieces you need to solve the 'creating a bass line' puzzle. In the next article I'll talk about how I discovered the first major piece of the bass line puzzle - you can read that by clicking the blue CONTINUE button below....

Paul Wolfe/www.how-to-play-bass.com