Les Claypool is a legend for many reasons. The weed-huffing mastermind of Primus is one of the finest bass players to have ever graced the earth, and his style of slapping, which links up with the drums to create a heavy undercurrent, is one of the most influential styles within the canon of bass playing.
Aside from his slapping, Claypool is adept at tapping, flamenco-like strumming and seemingly every other trick under the sun, dazzling three generations with his skill.
While also being the only consistent member of the funk metal behemoth, Claypool is also one of the most prolific artists of the past 30 years. He’s performed in the supergroups Oysterhead, alongside Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland and Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains (C2B3) alongside Buckethead, Bryan Mantia and Bernie Worrell.
He hasn’t stopped there, either. Claypool also fronted the projects Frog Brigade and Fancy Band. Perhaps his most notable extra-Primus outfit is The Claypool Lennon Delirium, the psychedelic rock band featuring Sean Lennon. An undoubted artistic genius, in 2006, Claypool released his full-length mockumentary Electric Apricot as well as his debut novella South of the Pumphouse.
Another reason to love Claypool is that, by all accounts, he’s a brilliant person. When he’s not too busy being one of the most celebrated musicians in history, he’s helping his buddies out as real ones do. One of the most powerful moments arrived when he utilised his gregarious nature and helped his old friend out, Mickey Melchiondo, AKA Dean Ween.
During a 2016 interview with Culture Creature, Ween explained how Claypool helped him out. Speaking about that year’s The Deaner Album, Ween revealed that he already had his second solo album (2018’s rock2) ready to go and proclaimed, “My best music is in front of me.”
Even though he was in great spirits at the time of the interview, prior to that, he hadn’t been, as Ween had broken up in 2012, ending their first run that started off way back in 1984. He struggled to accept that his bandmate Gene Ween wanted to split, and it was Claypool who helped him to wade out of the mire.
Showering praise on Claypool’s character, Ween wasted no time in clarifying: “The trust. He is a great, great, friend to me. Different than me, but a great, great friend. A really all-the-way down-the-line motherfucker.”
Ween revealed that it was Claypool who gave him the confidence to get back up on his feet after the knock of Ween ending and start playing music again. He said: “When things go down, you find out who your friends are. I felt like a pariah, in a way. He would not let it stand. He wouldn’t have it! He stayed on my jock. He was like, ‘You’re Dean Ween. Here’s what I did. I went out and formed Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains, I did Frog Brigade, I did all this stuff. I got my friends and we got in an RV and we just played music.'”
Ween explained: “And I took him at his word, and I did it, and he was right.… He got my heart beating again, basically. And I owe him forever for that. Because he was really the only one. I mean, maybe not the only one, but the first one for sure”.
It’s fantastic to think that without Les Claypool, Dean Ween wouldn’t have released his lauded two solo albums. Even more significantly, it’s arguable that without the confidence that the Primus head honcho instilled in Dean, Ween may never have gotten back together again, something we’re all thankful for. Long live Les Claypool.
Watch Les Claypool in a recent interview below.