Getting called a great bass player by Geddy Lee must be like getting called a good football player by Cristiano Ronaldo. The man who created the all-time top-tier bass runs of ‘YYZ’, ‘Tom Sawyer’, and ‘Closer to the Heart’ is easily in the hall of fame for the four-string instrument, so when he pays one of his fellow bassists a compliment, you know it means a lot.
Back in 2019, Lee was tapped by Amazon Music to name a few songs that inspired his bass playing. Lee went above and beyond, picking out 22 songs from a diverse array of artists although he mainly stuck to the rock and prog milieu that he’s known for, Lee also cited the funky slap styles of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers as an inspiration.
“He is a monster player,” Lee gushed. “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.”
Incorporating counter melodies is an easy way to endear yourself to Lee. As a master of bass lines that were as hummable and memorable as any guitar or drum parts that were surrounding him, Lee clearly has a healthy appreciation for bass players who can carve out their own unique sonic space within a song.
You can ever hear some of Flea’s influence on Lee’s playing, specifically around the Roll the Bones era. Although he didn’t fully embrace slapping, modern players like Flea and Les Claypool inspired Lee to switch up his signature sound into something a little funkier. It just goes to show that the best musicians are listeners, and Lee was constantly listening to some of the best new bassists to come out of each new generation.