This year’s November tradition celebrates Louis Johnson, Lemmy, Nathan East
By Jon Liebman
November 10, 2015
November means a lot of things. By the time that months rolls around, we’re already midway between summer and winter, football season is in full swing and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. To bass players, early November means, of course, Bass Player Live!
It’s always fun hangin’ with Bass Player editor Chris Jisi, who heads up the annual pilgrimage to S.I.R. Studios in Hollywood for two non-stop days of everything bass. This year’s BPL! featured a plethora clinics and panels with the likes of Chuck Rainey, Rhonda Smith, Tal Wilkenfeld, Mike Merritt, Blasko, Mike Inez, Bobby Vega and many others.
The traditional Saturday night concert was held at the nearby Musicians Institute concert hall in (finally!) a genuine auditorium-type setting. The three-part show began with Arsenio Hall bassist Alex Al hosting a tribute to funk legend Louis Johnson, who was honored posthumously with a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” On hand to accept the award was Louis’ big brother, Tommy Johnson. The tribute included high-energy, spirited performances from Abraham Laboriel, Andrew Gouché, Bill Dickens and Freddie Washington.
In a dramatic change of pace, the program transitioned to a short, thrash-filled lauding of Motörhead frontman and metal god, Lemmy Kilmister. Among the participants in the full-throttle “We Love Lemmy!” set were bassists Rex Brown, dUg Pinnick, Robert Trujillo and Armand Sabal-Lecco, guitarist Lita Ford, drummer Brooks Wackerman and vocalist Whit Crane. The segment also featured a short animated film, Tallica Parking Lot, proudly presented by Metallica bassist Trujillo. A very thin and rather frail looking Lemmy walked onstage with the aid of a cane to accept his award. Though he appeared appreciative of the recognition being bestowed upon him, his acceptance speech was little more than a “Thank you.”
Before the evening continued, Berklee Bass Chair Steve Bailey made a short, sober announcement about his longtime friend and bass-mate Victor Bailey, who recently went public about his struggle with a form of muscular dystrophy. Steve led the audience in a heartfelt “Victor! We love you! Victor! We love you!” chant, panning his camera phone across the audience for a video he’ll use to let his friend know that the members of the bass community have him in their thoughts.
The final segment of the evening belonged to Nathan East, the third “Lifetime Achievement Award” recipient. Lavish kudos came from Ray Parker, Jr. and Rickey Minor, followed by a performance led by East himself, rendering a crowd-pleasing set with a band that included session moguls Greg Phillinganes, John “JR” Robinson and Michael Thompson. The set also featured Nathan’s son, the up-and-coming piano prodigy, Noah East, in a performance of the Beatles classic, “Yesterday,” reprising the father/son duo recording of that song on Nathan’s Grammy-nominated debut solo album, released last year.
The FBPO staff kept plenty busy throughout the weekend, too, conducting nearly a dozen video interviews with an incredible roster of bass heavyweights. Watch for our exclusive FBPO interviews with Mike Watt, Stu Hamm, Ernest Tibbs, Philip Bynoe, Tim Landers, Tanya O’Callaghan, Merlo Podlewski, Byron Miller, Isaias Elpes and Marty O’Brien, as well as a special off-site interview with Rickey Minor, held at his nearby Lotus Studios.
Happy November, everyone!
Victor Bailey Faces Challenges; Stays Strong
Louis Johnson, Dead At 60
See our exclusive FBPO interviews with the following bass players, all of whom are mentioned here: