Tommy Shannon, Mike Dirnt recognized among low-end elite
By David Sands
April 20, 2015
Bass lines were ringing out loud and clear Saturday night in Cleveland, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomed its 2015 inductees. This year several esteemed bass players made the cut as members of their respective bands, including Tommy Shannon of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Jerome Arnold of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Mike Dirnt of Green Day and Gary Ryan of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.
Shannon came on board with Double Trouble in 1981 and stayed with the blues/rock band until Vaughan’s untimely death in 1991. He’s also known for his bass work with Johnny Winter, whom he rocked out with at the Woodstock music festival in 1969.
“It’s about as high a compliment as you can get,” the Double Trouble bassist told Gary Graff in an FBPO interview in February. “I didn’t know if we’d get in, to be honest. I wanted to be part of it, but I guess deep down inside I didn’t think we would be. But now that it’s happened, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
As an African American member of Butterfield’s band, Arnold, had the distinction of belonging to pop music’s first integrated blues group, according to the Woodstock Times. Beyond this, he also handled bass for the legendary Howlin’ Wolf and backed up Bob Dylan during his infamous electric set at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
Mike Dirnt, aka Michael Ryan Pritchard, got his rock-and-roll pseudonym from his habit of chanting “dirnt, dirnt, dirnt” while pretending to play air bass guitar in school. In addition to his work with Green Day, he’s also recorded with The Frustators and Screeching Weasel.
Prior to playing with the Blackhearts, Ryan built his reputation in L.A.’s punk scene, making music with artists like Top Jimmy and Rik L. Rik.
Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebration highlights included Jett opening up the show with her songs “Bad Reputation” and “Cherry Bomb,” accompanied by Ryan, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong – who referred to bassist Mike Dirnt as his “musical soulmate” – and a John Mayer-led outfit belting out Vaughan tunes, with the assistance of Double Trouble.
Beatles bassist Paul McCartney also made a guest appearance to induct his former bandmate Ringo Starr and took the opportunity to play some songs with Green Day.
FBPO interview with Tommy Shannon
Paul McCartney to induct Ringo Starr into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame