Stories Behind the Songs: Bob Daisley
Without a doubt, Bob Daisley is one of the most influential bassists of all time. For over four decades, Daisley has laid down the low end for everyone from Mungo Jerry to Rainbow to Ozzy Osbourne to Gary Moore. In fact, nearly every one of you reading this right now has probably played his bass lines, whether you know it or not.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Daisley began his music career as a youngster and soon moved to the UK for more gig opportunities. There he hooked up with bands like Widowmaker and Rainbow, which featured fellow rock icons Ritchie Blackmore and vocalist Ronnie James Dio.
A chance meeting with Ozzy Osbourne in 1979 led to several platinum records. Though the pair have an on/off relationship, Daisley contributed his playing and songwriting to six of Ozzy’s albums. Legal troubles between Daisley and the Osbourne camp sparked many rumors and misinformation, all of which the bassist is clearing up in his upcoming autobiography, due out later this year.
This year will also see the release of Daisley’s new Italian-made signature bass.
Since Daisley’s catalog includes an astounding number of iconic hits, we asked him to tell us about his top ten tracks from his career, in his words.
I first picked up a bass in 1964, aged fourteen, after having guitar lessons for the previous year. I fell in love with the instrument and have never looked back since committing myself to bass. I’ve had the good fortune to work with many legendary artists, some better known than others. My forthcoming book For Facts Sake! is a comprehensive account of my whole life and every artist and band that I’ve ever worked with, it’s all in there. In addition to the book, I’ve designed my own signature-series bass, the ‘Black Beauty.’ Each one will be individually hand-made of the finest materials by master craftsmen at the Utopia Custom Shop in Italy.
My ten favorite songs represent a cross-section of genres and eras of my career that spans more than forty-five years…
1. “She’s So Hard to Shake” from the Kahvas Jute album Wide Open (1971)
A bass-driven slammer from the days when I was influenced by Jack Bruce. I used my 1969 Gibson EB3 through a Marshall stack and let rip with some very free improvisation and two short bass solos; an old favourite.
2. “Here Comes the Queen” from the Widowmaker album Too Late to Cry (1977)
I borrowed Boz Burrell’s fretless Precision to do this track, one of the few times that I recorded with a fretless bass. I already owned Boz’s Acoustic 370 amp that I’d bought from him in 1973 during his days with Bad Company when I was with Mungo Jerry; they were fun times.
3. “Gates of Babylon” from the Rainbow album Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (1978)
I loved playing on this track, Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar solo was superb, Cozy Powell and Ronnie Dio shone brightly too. Keyboard player David Stone wrote the classic intro and the majestic middle section that Ritchie soloed over. I used my ‘55 Precision through one of Ritchie’s 200w Marshalls.
4. “Crazy Train” from Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
This song was the realisation of a long-time ambition – to co-write and play on a classic composition. Randy Rhoads was great to work with, we hit it off very well. On this one I used a Gibson EB3 through one of Randy’s 100w Marshalls.
5. “Tonight” from Diary of a Madman (1981)
I’ve had numerous compliments over the years about the bass line of this song, it seems to have touched a lot of people. The song began as a spontaneous effort between Randy Rhoads and me after I first came up with the bass line. I used my 1961 Precision through an Ampeg SVT.
6. “Stay on Top” from the Uriah Heep album Head First (1983)
When I was touring with Ozzy Osbourne in 1984 and Motley Crue were opening for us, Crue’s bassist Nikki Sixx had the Heep album and played me this song and said, “Hey dude, check out the great bass on this track!” He obviously didn’t know that it was me on the recording.
7. “A Day in the Night” from the Mother’s Army album Fire on the Moon (1998)
This track seems to be a favourite for most people that hear the album. A nice ballsy, aggressive sound from my 1962 Olympic White Precision through an Ampeg V4. One day producer and renowned drummer Narada Michael Walden came into the studio while we were recording and commented on how much he loved the bass sound on this track.
8. “In the Name of God” from the Living Loud album Living Loud
I loved playing on this track for many reasons, among them, the ‘Eastern’ scales and the message contained within the lyrics. Again, this is my ’62 white Precision through a valve amp.
9. “That’s Why I Play the Blues” from the Gary Moore album Power of the Blues (2004)
For me, this song epitomises both Gary’s and my love of the genre, it was recorded ‘live’ spontaneously in the studio. The original had horns on it which weren’t in the final mix. I used my ‘62 Olympic White Precision through an Ampeg SVT.
10. “Over and Over” from the Hoochie Coochie Men album Danger: White Men Dancing (featuring Jon Lord, 2007)
The epic track of the album, I used my fretless acoustic Zemaitis bass on the intro and outro and my Sunburst 1959 slab-board Precision on the main bulk of the song. Ian Gillan sings on this track.
And there you have it, folks, I hope that you get to hear these songs, obviously, there are many that haven’t been mentioned but the limit was ‘ten’ and it was difficult to even narrow it down to these.
All the best,