Being referred to as an excellent bass player by Geddy Lee must be akin to being referred to as a decent football player by Cristiano Ronaldo. The musician who crafted the all-time best bass lines of ‘YYZ,’ ‘Tom Sawyer,’ and ‘Closer to the Heart’ is definitely in the bass hall of fame, therefore when he compliments one of his colleague bass players, you know it says a lot.
Lee was asked by Amazon Music in 2019 to select a few tracks that influenced his bass skills. Lee went far beyond, selecting 22 tracks from a varied range of performers. While he mostly stayed to the rock and prog background that he’s renowned for, Lee acknowledged the groovy slap methods of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers as an example.
“He is a monster player,” Lee enthralled. “Flea is one of the great, you know, contemporary bass players. His influences are so Funk driven. Yet, he can do anything.”
“On ‘Give It Away’ he is just like the bass in ‘Come Together’, like the bass in so many great pop songs,” Lee added. “He is providing an alternate rhythm for the drums and an alternate melody. Also he is working at the bottom of the neck and the top of the neck. He is going back and forth between, which I always love as a bass player. That’s a perfect example of that.”
Utilizing contrasting tones is a simple technique to win Lee over. Lee obviously has a fair regard for bassists who can craft out their own musical styles territory inside a tune, as a maestro of bass lines that have been as hummable and distinctive as any guitar or drum sections that were around him.
Flea’s influence can always be heard in Lee’s work, especially during the Roll the Bones period. Modern musicians like Flea and Les Claypool encouraged Lee to change up his characteristic tone into something quite funkier, even if he didn’t completely adopt slapping. The fact that Lee was always listening to several of the finest new bass players to emerge from each younger breed merely goes to prove that the greatest musicians are listeners.