Sad news to report today: bassist Buell Neidlinger has passed away after a heart attack. He was 82 years old.
Born in New York City, Neidlinger’s family moved to Westport, Connecticut when he was two years old. He was a prodigy on the cello, switching to bass at 13. He was a student of Count Basie Orchestra bassist Walter Page, who is known as the father of the walking bass.
He went on to study at Yale University, but only stayed for a year. He quickly picked up gigs and moved back to New York where he subbed for Page. Neidlinger went on to work with an array of artists in genres from Dixieland to avant-garde to rock and pop. His early work includes six albums with pianist Cecil Taylor as well as recording dates with Steve Lacy and Archie Shepp. He is famously on Tony Bennett’s hit song “I Left My Heart In San Francsico”. He served as the principal bassist in the Warner Brothers studio orchestra and performed with pop musicians like Chuck Berry, Frank Sinatra, the Moody Blues, Roy Orbison, and Barbara Streisand.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Buell Neidlinger.