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Music

The songs that shaped Geddy Lee's bass playing

Geddy Lee, the frontman of prog legends Rush is one of the most influential bassists of all time. Fusing funk and hard rock into his constantly busy playing style, his sound is unlike anything else out there. Due to this technical proficiency and dexterity, since the band broke through in the early 1970s he has been hailed as one of the best bassists of all time and will always be remembered as such.

Influencing everyone from Les Claypool to Cliff Burton, Lee has had a transformative impact on the world of bass playing, and with each passing day, he gains more disciples, who are captivated by his skill. Luckily for us, back in 2019, he sat down with Amazon Music and picked 22 tracks that inspired his bass playing. 

Explaining the playlist, he said: “I chose these songs because I’m such a ‘bass-centric dude’ and that’s all I’ve been thinking about for the last few years. Is the role of bass in popular music and what I tried to do with my book (The Beautiful Book of Bass) was provide an alternate history of popular music through the point of view of the bass player. From the murky bottom end to the twangy top end.”

“John Entwistle, Chris Squire, they were playing the kind of music I wanted to play, so they were a direct influence on the kind of player I wanted to become. But there are others that were subconscious influences and I think we all have those when we listen to various music. So I mean, there is a couple of Beatles songs on here and people remember The Beatles for their tune fullness and for the great vocals. But also Paul McCartney was quite an influential bass player and if you listen to ‘Come Together’, that’s a bold bass part in that song. If you listened to “Taxman”, that’s Heavy Metal before there was Heavy Metal,” Lee concluded.

A list that spans from the ’60s to more contemporary times, because of the myriad of acts that Lee picks, you get the sense that he’s a bass player that is always developing, never content with complacency, as he chooses cuts by early heroes such as The Who as well as ones by the likes of Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

Whilst his inclusion of contemporary bands is interesting, you cannot get away from the early tracks that Lee chooses, as they are undoubtedly the most significant for his bass playing. They’re the ones that galvanised him and helped him to form the style that we all know and love him for today, such as The Beatles‘ ‘Taxman’ and Marvin Gaye’s timeless soul masterpiece ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.

A concise list that accounts for every aspect of Geddy Lee’s bass playing, be prepared to be reminded of a host of classics whilst being introduced to more niche pieces.

Get the full list below.

The songs that shaped Geddy Lee’s bass playing:

  • The Rolling Stones – ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue (Long Version)’
  • The Who – ‘My Generation’
  • Marvin Gaye – ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’
  • The Beatles – ‘Taxman’
  • Cream – ‘Crossroads’
  • Led Zeppelin – ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’
  • Jefferson Airplane – ‘The Other Side of This Life’
  • Yes – ‘No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed’
  • Bill Bruford – ‘Joe Frazier’
  • Weather Report – ‘Teen Town’
  • Primus – ‘Jerry Was a Race Car Driver’
  • The Spencer Davis Group – ‘Gimme Some Lovin”
  • Radiohead – ‘Paranoid Android’
  • The Who – ‘The Real Me’
  • Yes – ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’
  • Jethro Tull – ‘Bourée’
  • Lou Reed – ‘Walk On The Wild Side’
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – ‘Give It Away’
  • The Beatles – ‘Come Together’
  • Led Zeppelin – ‘The Lemon Song’
  • Pink Floyd – ‘Money’
  • Rush – ‘Headlong Flight’

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