Larry Graham: The Origins of Thumping, Plucking… and Bass History

We need to give him his flowers now. We can all agree that Larry Graham might be the baddest thumper of all time.

In this clip from 1980, he gives us a bit of bass history. Larry breaks it down with a live drummer and the funk doesn’t let up!

There are a few other clips of this performance on Youtube, which shows that beautiful Jazz Bass in better lighting. ALL WHITE WITH GOLD HARDWARE?? Check it out!

Joshua Sailor is a session bassist, producer and engineer on the West Coast. Currently working with Cloud Microphones on the "Get Lifted" Web Series, showcasing how to use Cloudlifters in studio, live and podcasting situations. You can contact him at [email protected].

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Share your thoughts

  1. Bob Rogers

    I remember a Guitar Player interview with Stanley Clarke from 1976 where he tried to take credit for bringing the technique to bass without a mention of Larry Graham. He said he got the idea when he was in Spain and saw the Flamenco guitarists there when he decided to translate the technique to bass. His young ego was apparent throughout the piece.

    • Meïssa NIANG

      Mon cher Bob, en fait Stanley a reconnu que c’est Larry Graham qui a été à l’origine du slap à l’occasion d’une soirée musicale du groupe Sly & Family Stone, pour palier le tempo du batteur absent. Par la suite, il dit que c’est lui qui a systematisé cette technique dans la musique avec son album révolutionnaire de 1976, le célèbre “School days”.

      L’autre technique de slap dont il parle et qui lui a été inspirée par la musique flamenco, se fait avec tous les doigts de la main comme le font les guitaristes flamenco pour battre le rythme.

      Il faut reconnaître que Stanley a beaucoup apporté à la basse électrique tout comme Jaco Pastorius, ils sont les vrais précurseurs de la basse moderne à mon avis.

      • Bob Rogers

        All very good information but my experience is this particular interview as presented in that GP issue where he gave no credit to Larry, particularly absent when discussing slapping and popping technique.

  2. LR

    No Larry, thank YOU.

  3. MARK B

    COOL !!!!

  4. Ken J

    Nobody can take credit for for this style of play but LG, with the exception of his mother !, bless her soul.