In Memoriam: Remembering the Bassists We Lost in 2017
It’s the end of the year and once again time to reflect on 2017. The world lost some incredible members of the bass community this year from prog-rock legends to luthiers to bass amp innovators. As always, they may be gone but their memories will live on through their work.
Join us as we remember the lives and legacies of the bass players we lost this year.
Pete Overend Watts (January 22, 2017)
Pete Overend Watts was the founding bassist for seminal rock band Mott the Hoople. After two albums, the group was on the brink of splitting up when David Bowie convinced them to stay together by writing the song “All The Young Dudes” for them. It became the band’s biggest hit and kept them going for two more years before singer Ian Hunter quit. Watts continued with different incarnations of the band (Mott and eventually British Lions). In 1979 he turned to record producing for artists including Hanoi Rocks and Dumb Blondes. In his later years, he participated in Mott the Hoople reunions and also wrote a book entitled The Man Who Hated Walking.
Jim Mouradian (January 24, 2017)
A respected bassist and luthier, Jim Mouradian grew up in a family of musicians. He used his family’s rug business to impress Yes’s Chris Squire with a rug featuring the band’s logo. This led to a lifelong friendship. Squire asked Mouradian to build a futurist bass design that became the CS bass featured in the “Owner of a Lonely Heart” music video. It was this creation that led the luthier to launch the Mouradian Guitar Company. In addition to his building, Mouradian was a blues bassist featured in Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters for nearly two decades.
John Wetton (January 31, 2017)
Prog Rock Legend John Wetton went through several bands early in his career – Palmer-James Group, the Corvettes, Ginger Man, Tetrad, and Mogul Thrash – before being picked up by Robert Fripp for the new lineup of King Crimson in 1972. In two years he was featured on three classic albums: Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. After Fripp disbanded the group, Wetton went on tour with Roxy Music and Uriah Heep. He also founded the band U.K. with whom he released two albums. After U.K.’s breakup, he formed the rocked supergroup Asia alongside Yes’s Geoffrey Downes and Steve Howe as well as Emerson, Lake & Palmer drummer Carl Palmer. The band scored many hits including “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell,” and “Sole Survivor.” His final studio recording was for the closing track of Asia’s most recent release, “Gravitas.”
Steve Lang (February 4, 2017)
Steve Lang joined the Canadian classic rock band April Wine in 1975, just in time to record 1976’s The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy. The album made the band the first Canadian band to achieve Platinum advance sales orders. Lang continued with the band for a total of seven albums before quitting in 1984 to go into the finance industry.
Elliott Rubinson (February 6, 2017)
As the CEO of Dean Guitars, Elliott Rubinson was a giant of the music industry. He grew up in Queens, New York and picked up the bass at 12 years old. In 1976 he set up his own music store, Thoroughbred Music, in Florida. It became a successful chain, giving him leverage to create Armadillo Enterprises and purchase Dean Guitars in 1997. Even as the CEO of Dean, Rubinson made time to tour with artists like Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, and Michael Angelo Batio.
Trish Doan (February 13, 2017)
Trish Doan was the longtime bassist for the all-female metal band, Kittie. She joined the band in 2005 and was featured on the 2006 EP Never Again and the 2007 LP Funeral for Yesterday. She took a break from the band but rejoined in 2012.
Doug Lunn (February 11, 2017)
Doug Lunn studied music in college and became a hired gun in the ’80s. A master of the fretless, he ordered his first fretless Precision bass from Fender in 1974. His incredible talent led him to work with a range of artists including Bruce Springsteen, Mark Isham, David Torn, Andy Summers, John Abercrombie, Sting, and more. He also played bass for the smash hit “Mickey” by Toni Basil in addition to plenty of TV and film work.
Lyle Ritz (March 3, 2017)
Lyle Ritz played bass and ukulele during the height of L.A.’s golden era of recording. He played in the United States Army Band during the Korean War, during which time he learned double bass. After getting back to the states, he was discovered by jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, who got him into the music industry. He recorded over 5,000 songs including Herb Alpert’s “Taste of Honey” and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” On tour, he backed up Sonny & Cher, The Monkees, Dean Martin and more.
Banner Thomas (April 10, 2017)
Banner Thomas co-founded Molly Hatchet in 1973 and played on the first four albums. He co-wrote many of the band’s hits through 1981, including tracks from their hit album Flirtin’ With Disaster. He had more recently been playing on and off with Big Engine.
Kerry Turman (April 23, 2017)
A native of Detroit, Kerry Turman first came to notoriety with Roy Ayers in the late ’70s. He is best known for his longtime role in the Temptations, whom he joined in the 1980’s and had been touring with ever since. He passed away while on the road with the band and the Beach Boys as part of their Surf & Soul tour.
Kevin Garcia (May 2, 2017)
Kevin Garcia co-founded the indie rock band Grandaddy in 1992 when he was just 15 years old. Their debut album contained the songs “A.M. 180” and “Summer Here Kids”, both of which were featured heavily in television and advertisements. The band split in 2006 only to reunite in 2012. Their final album, Last Place, came out two months before Garcia’s passing.
Cel Revuelta (May 3, 2017)
Cel Revuelta replaced Kira Roessler in the seminal hardcore punk outfit Black Flag in 1986. He was the band’s final bassist once they called it quits the same year. Revuelta also rejoined members of the band for a reunion in 2013.
Sal Cuevas (May 9, 2017)
Sal Cuevas was born and raised in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, as such identifying himself as a “Newyorican”. The city exposed him to many different musical genres that influenced his music, but ultimately he became one of the most in-demand bassists in Latin music. He was part of the legendary Fania All-Stars from 1978 to 1985, but he also worked with a who’s who of latin music: Willie Colón, Rubén Blades, Héctor Lavoe, Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, Machito, Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow, Ismael Miranda, Eddie Palmieri, Gloria Estefan, the Black Eyed Peas, and more. His playing style is often recognized as innovative in salsa due to incorporating new techniques.
David Zablidowsky (July 14, 2017)
Also known as “David Z,” David Zablidowsky grew up in Brooklyn and formed Z02 with his brother. The band toured with KISS and Poison and became the focus in an IFC TV series called Z-Rock. Other credits include the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Rubix Kube, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. He joined Adrenaline Mob in March and was on tour with the group when he was killed by a tractor-trailer that struck their touring RV.
Todd Honeycutt (September 1, 2017)
Todd Honeycutt was the bassist for Enfold Darkness and recorded on their latest album, Adversary Omnipotent. He was also a former member of Garotte.
Walter Becker (September 3, 2017)
He was a multi-instrumentalist, but Walter Becker was the primary bassist and co-songwriter for Steely Dan. The band was known for calling in top level session musicians, but Becker played bass on nearly every album as well as the hit songs “Reelin’ In The Years,” “Dirty Work,” “My Old School,” “Deacon Blues,” and more. He also released two solo albums – Circus Money and 11 Tracks of Whack – and played on albums by Krishna Das, Madeleine Peyroux, and Roger Rosenberg among others.
Holger Czukay (September 5, 2017)
Holger Czukay co-founded the experimental rock band Can. After studying electrical engineering and radio broadcasts, he learned from avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen for three years before turning to rock music after hearing Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.” Besides his bass playing, Czukay was a pioneer of sampling.
Martin Eric Ain (October 21, 2017)
Celtic Frost founder Martin Eric Ain got his first taste of success with the Swiss extreme metal band Hellhammer in 1983. The group became a cult hit, influencing many black metal and death metal bands. They disbanded in 1984 and Ain founded Celtic Frost with some of the remaining members. He recorded on Morbid Tales, Into the Pandemonium, and Vanity/Nemesis as well as the final studio album, Monotheist.
Jack Conrad (November 1, 2017)
Jack Conrad had a diverse musical career starting in the ’60s, but he’s best known for playing bass for the Doors on their first post-Jim Morrison albums Other Voices and Full Circle. He went on the road with the band and was featured on their 1972Beat Club performance, which was their first TV appearance since Morrison’s death. He also recorded with Petula Clark, Paul Williams, and more.
Chad Hanks (November 12, 2017)
Chad Hanks was the co-founder and principal songwriter for American Head Charge. He formed the Minneapolis band in 1997 and recorded on the band’s self-released debut, Trepanation, as well as The War of Art, The Feeding, and Tango Umbrella. He was one of only two consistent band members in the band’s history.
Robert “Pops” Popwell (November 27, 2017)
Robert “Pops” Popwell was a seasoned musician who recorded with artists including Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Al Jarreau, George Benson, and more. He spent significant time in The Rascals, with whom recorded Peaceful World and The Island of Real, as well as The Crusaders, with whom he spent most of the ’70s. May remember him for his monster bass solo from the latter’s song “Spiral”.
Richard Ruse (December 17, 2017)
Richard Ruse was a mainstay in the music industry. He used his knowledge as a bass player to create and market some incredible products with Alesis, SWR, KRK Systems, and JBL. In 2014 he formed Trickfish Amplification, which focuses on bass amps with their flagship Bullhead 1K bass head.
Lenny Stallworth (December 20, 2017)
David “Lenny” Stallworth laid down the funk with artists like Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor and Maceo Parker. Getting his start at just 14 years old with the Super Soul Movement, Stallworth moved from Mississippi to Boston where he became a pillar of the music community. He studied and eventually taught at Berklee College of Music, mentoring scores of bassists and musicians.