Marshall Lytle - Slap Bass for Bill Haley 

One of my biggest early influences for my slap bass playing was Marshall Lytle.  Marshall originally was a guitar player (like me) and also was a songwriter (like me).  He was taught how to play the slap bass by Bill Haley (his band leader) (like my band leader did) and Marshall wrote the 1st Bill Haley and the Comets hit "Crazy Man Crazy".  Marshall strung his bass with the D and G strings gut, and the E and A strings silver wound.  I copied this set-up for my playing in the early 1990's.  I had the…

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Willie Dixon - Father of slap bass 

Willie Dixon arguably the "Father of Slap Bass" has a recording of his trio from the late 1940's that was very influential to me and many other slap bass players - (including Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats).  Here is a video of Willie Dixon from later in his Career.

At one time Willie lived in the Denver CO area.  I never met him, but I did meet his Son who approached me at a gig and said "My Father used to play like that".  The Son was surprised when I said Willie was one of my main influences.


Still More History of Slap Bass 

Johnny and Dorsey Burnette were Brothers, Professional Boxers and played (practiced) in the same apartment complex with Elvis.  In fact it was said that they kicked Elvis out of the "jam sessions" in the complex because he did not know a B7 chord. Perhaps this challenged Elvis to completely surpass all the other "Rockabillies" in Memphis at the time?

The Dorsey Brothers teamed up with Paul Burlison in 1951, long before Elvis walked into Sun Studios.  They were playing in and around Memphis TN in Honky…

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More History of Slap Bass - Clowning Around 

Back to the Bass Player "Clowning Around" - Here is a video of a Gene Autrey "barn dance" complete with a clown for a banjo player who apparently does not like "Dates" that chew gum along ( as he chomps on gum) with a "serious" back -up band complete with a slap bass player and a short slap bass break.


More History of Slap Bass - Bill Black - Part 2 (Final) 

Bill Black was 9 years older than Elvis.  Bill was very instrumental in getting Elvis over his initial stage fright and told him to move around to entertain the audience.  At many points in 1954 when they first started, Bill would MC the Elvis shows and "egg on" Elvis to "do more".  

Here is Elvis on board the USS Hancock - April 1956. Bill Black almost got "fired" for stealing the show.  Watch at the 2 minute mark. Bill rides and slaps his Bass with both hands.  By this time Elvis was under the…

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More History of Slap Bass - Bill Black - Part 1 

Bill Black was Elvis's slap bass player.  He and Scotty Moore (Lead Guitar) were sent by Sam Phillips to audition Elvis on June 27th 1954 at Scotty's home.  After the audition, both Bill and Scotty commented to Sam that "with some work, we might be able to help the boy". On July 5th 1954 they recorded "That's All Right Mama" with Elvis at Sun Studios in Memphis TN.  Here is the original recording of Elvis singing and playing rhythm guitar, Bill Black slapping the Bass, and Scotty Moore playing lead…

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More History of Slap Bass 

Slap bass as used in New Orleans Jazz, "Hillbilly" and "Country" Music in the late 19th Century seems to have been considered a novelty.  This may be why the Bass Player was considered a "clown" or "comedian" in many bands.  Taking a Bass break was like telling a one-liner joke.  The break was also used by the other members of the band to maybe get a quick drink, tune their instrument, or maybe discuss what the next song might be in the set. Sometimes the solo might start out with a non slap solo and…

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History of Slap Bass 

I first saw the Stand-up/Acoustic/Doghouse/Up-right/Double Bass/String Bass/ Bass fiddle/Contra Bass/ Bull Fiddle or simply "Bass" slapped at the 1982 Henderson Colorado Bluegrass Festival.  I was there to compete in the Banjo contest.  (Another blog). The band was Country Gazette, and the bass player (I think -  Mike Anderson) sang a funny song and slapped the bass during solo's given to him by the "more professional" players like the mandolin, banjo, and guitar player.  His song was an interlude in the…

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30 Years of Rockabilly - First paying gig - October 12, 1984 

The year 2014 marks 30 years of playing "live" rockabilly for me in front of a paying audience or promoter.  My first rockabilly gig was with Chuck Hughes in the Fall of 1984.  We played outside on a flatbed trailer "on the hill" for the Colorado University Football rally the night before they played the Iowa State Cyclones on October 13, 1984.  I think the only reason Colorado University hired the band was because Chuck had the name of the band as "Chucky and the Cyclones" one really cared what we…

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Lance "Romance" Bakemeyer

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