Erick “Jesus” Coomes: Five Bass Lines You Should Know

Erick "Jesus" Coomes

Today, we’re kicking off a new series called “Five Bass Lines You Should Know.” Each installment will feature bassists from all genres giving their opinion on the most essential tracks, plus one of their own for you to check out.

As the bassist and co-founder of Lettuce, it’s clear that Erick “Jesus” Coomes already has a wide taste in music. The band blends funk, hip hop, jazz, R&B, and down into more niche genres like Washington D.C.’s Go-Go. Coomes himself is a Southern California native, making his bass stylings reach from coast to coast.

“Music is beautiful because it transmutes everything and the frequencies heal all the time,” he told us in a 2020 interview. “I think the energy of hip hop and go-go is so much about community building and brotherly love and unity.”

His own bass lines have graced records by DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Britney Spears, Quincy Jones, Snoop Dog, and more. When you’re working with top-shelf names, you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of bass lines from which to draw. To get into his influences and background, we asked Coomes to give us five bass lines he feels everyone should know, plus one of his own Lettuce lines for you to dig. Although he’s a hip-hop head, you might be surprised at his picks.

The new Lettuce album, Unify, is available now on CD, vinyl, and as a digital download (iTunes and Amazon MP3).

1. “Stand By Me” – Ben E. King

This is my favorite bass line. It reminds us that a well-written line is imperative to songwriting. It also reminds us that each note of the bass line is essential- nothing can be added to it or taken away from it because it is its own melody.

2. “Devotion” – Earth, Wind & Fire

Verdine White is one of the most important bass players in the history of mankind. His loving spirit and charisma in life on and offstage are contagious. This bass line reminds us to stay true to who we are and show loyalty in relationships with our friends & family… also play a ballad or two – it’s good for you.

3. “Living on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi

I just heard this on the radio and remembered that for a pop-rock bass line, this one slays. It’s very well written, and again it carries the song with massively melodic movement and drives it with powerfully strong rhythms.

4. “God Made Me Funky” – The Headhunters

It’s funky cuz it’s true.

5. “Give It Up or Turn it Loose” – James Brown

Bootsy crushed this bass line with James Brown! His incredibly animated and lively attitude on the bass is so vibrant that you can feel the electricity in the room as soon as you hear it. To try to emulate that feeling and excitement for life and the living of it through music is a very solid pursuit.

6. “Phyllis” – Lettuce

I wrote this bass line in hopes of impressing two of my favorite musicians – Neal Evans & Tyler “Tycoon” Coomes – who are both very partial to Dopeness (which is rare). Neal is one of my biggest influences on the bass, and he also wrote the bridge bass line of this song. It has a cool pushing feel that seems to knock the sections forward toward one another. Also, learn “Breakout” by Lettuce while you’re in that section of your record collection. (Lettuce: Live in Tokyo)

In closing: Keep it simple and have fun. Great bass lines deserve to be played all the way through Bars 8 and 16. Try not to play any fills ever… and watch, you’ll still do some.

Have fun. Best wishes, peace, and heaven on Earth through respect, love, and art.

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  1. Mark Travis

    I just discovered Lettuce through this article. I’m now addicted to Phyllis! Is the bass line published anywhere? (Or the guitar part!) I went back and read your 2020 interview and it just sealed my thoughts on how in tune with the creative energy of the universe this cat is. Thanks!