25 Most Distinctive Opening Bass Lines In Rock Music History

25 Most Distinctive Opening Bass Lines In Rock Music History

Feature Photo: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Our 25 Most Distinctive Opening Bass Lines In Rock Music History presents a group of songs all fueled by some very original bass lines that played a significant role in the opening sections of these classic songs. Unlike our drum intro articles, the song selections did not have to be focused on just bass solos. All they needed was to be driven by some really iconic bass lines that stood out for originality and some spectacular playing. Of course, a bass line can be very simple yet becomes so iconic that it deserves just as much recognition as one that’s impossible to play. You will find both types on this list.

We just kept this one to rock stuff. There are so many great Motown and Stax lines that we had to separate the R&B stuff from this list. That list is coming next.

# 25 – Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers

There were so many that one could pick from with a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers because of Flea’s brilliant playing. “Can’t Stop” was featured on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ eighth studio album, By the Way, released in 2002.

# 24 – Tie – Schism /Forty Six & 2 – Tool

There is just a little guitar before this dark and wonderful bass line turns your world upside down on the track “Schism.” Of course, when talking Tool, we couldn’t leave out the classic “Forty-Six & 2.” Justin Chancellor stands as one of the best bassists of the modern rock era.

# 23 – 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On) / Megadeth Peace Sells

This is one of Bruce Springsteen’s forgotten songs. It was released in 1993 on the Human Touch album. Bruce Springsteen pays bass on this, which makes it all the more interesting. And, oh yeah, “only 57 channels,” wow, how things have changed since 1993. We also had to give a shout-out to Megadeth’s “Peace Sells,” which is almost the same exact riff.

# 22 – Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Now, talk about a distinctive bass line. The bass line is the song on this classic, somewhat modern track by The White Stripes or should we say Jack White.

# 21 –  I Just Want To Make Love To You – Foghat

Whenever we can get the chance to add one of our favorite bands in Foghat to any list, we will do it. Nonetheless, this one earned its spot very easily. The song was written by Willie Dixon and released on Foghat’s debut album.

# 20 – Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith

It doesn’t get much more classic than this one. “Sweet Emotion” was the opening track on Aerosmith’s legendary Toys In The Attic album. That’s Tom Hamilton playing bass on the track.

# 19 – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly

While the song opens up with some very cool keyboards, the bass line that jumps in and puts the song into overdrive stands as one of the best ever. Lee Dorman of Iron Butterfly plays the bass.

# 18 – Another One Bites The Dust – Queen

You can’t honor this song by Queen without giving credit to the band that inspired the riff. I remember the first time I heard Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Besides being blown away by the band hopping on the disco train, the first thought I had was that it sounded like Chic. Turns out that John Deacon was hanging out with Chic and was so inspired by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards that he wrote this song. It was good for Queen because it became their biggest single of all time.

# 17 – Turn The Page – Rush

You can’t have a bass line list without including one of rock’s greatest bass players of all time. Geddy Lee plays the bass like a guitar. So many to pick from when looking at Rush’s catalog. This was one that really stood out.

# 16 – TIE – Tommy The Cat / Jerry Was A Race Car Driver – Primus

From Geddy Lee to Les Claypool. We should have made a top 200 bass line list because they guys could have their own top 100 lists.  This one was released on the Sailing the Seas of Cheese album in 1991. Additiolay we can’t mention Primus without showcasing the legendary “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver.”

# 15 – Green Eyed Lady – Sugarloaf

I know you remember this one. The song “Green Eyed Lady” was released on Sugarloaf’s debut album in 1973. This was a big hit as it went all the way to number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The bass line was played by Bob Raymond.

# 14 – Living In The Past – Jethro Tull

Remember how big Jethro Tull was? Why is his band so overlooked by many in the modern era? And for the love of common sense. Why are they not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?

# 13 – Come and Get Your Love – Redbone

Redbone’s “Come And Get Your Love”  was released on Redbone’s fifth album Wovoka in 1973. It became a huge hit single in 1974. The song enjoyed a resurgence forty years later when it was featured in the film Guardians of the Galaxy in 2013.

# 12 – The Real Me – The Who

The late John Entwistle might have been the greatest rock bass player of all time. He certainly made it always look easy. This song would not be the same without his introduction in which he and Keith Moon laid out one of the all-time great rock and roll introductions ever.

# 11 – Come As You Are – Nirvana

“Come As You Are” was released on Nirvana’s groundbreaking album Nevermind. While Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl have become household names in music history, bassist Krist Novoselic deserves more recognition for what he brought to the band and his influences on  grunge bass playing.

# 10 – Open Spot for the most complained-about song, not on this list. We will let the readers decide who gets this spot.

# 9 – I’m A Man – Chicago

Chicago’s debut album stands as one of the greatest in rock and roll history. Peter Cetera played bass on the track. His spectacular vocal skills always seemed to make people overlook how great of a bass player he was in the band. “Im’A Man” was a cover of a Spencer Davis song.

# 8 –  We Gotta Get Out Of This Place – The Animals

Now, this is what you call an iconic bass line. The song “We Gotta Get Out of This Place“, was composed by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The Animals recorded the song in 1965. Chas Chandler played bass on the track.

# 7 –  Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Flea has had many shining moments throughout his career. This was one where he might have shined the brightest. The band’s cover of this Stevie Wonder classic was off the charts.

# 6 – Walk On The Wild Side – Lou Reed

This just might be the coolest of them all. It’s what we mentioned in the introduction: a bass line doesn’t have to be complex to be iconic. Herbie Flowers was the man with the bass in his hand.

# 5 – Come Together – The Beatles

This is one of the most fascinating introductions in rock music ever. We all know who played bass on this one.

# 4 – Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream

Even though this line was doubled with guitar, we couldn’t leave this one off the list. Eric Clapton on guitar and Jack Bruce playing that stunning bass line made for a legendary recording that never gets old.

# 3 – Money – Pink Floyd

When you first saw the title of this article focusing on the most distinctive bass lines of all time in rock music, I guarantee you that the first song you thought of was probably one of the next three. We all know what album this one was on. Roger Waters played the bass on this track.

# 2 – Dazed And Confused – Led Zeppelin

The bass line to end all bass lines. Or something like that. Everyone who has ever picked up a bass guitar for the first time tried playing this song. It’s like “Smoke On The Water” for guitar. Not much to say about this legendary Led Zeppelin song that has not been said before. If you didn’t know that it was John Paul Jones who played bass on this, you are probably a very very young person

# 1 – Whipping Post – The Allman Brothers Band

If you want to define the concept of a great opening solo bass line with one song, this is it. The Allman Brothers ‘ classic “Whipping Post” was the closing track on the band’s debut album. For the rest of the band’s career, this would become one of their most often played songs in concert often being a show closer. It’s one of their most exciting pieces. The late Berry Oakley played bass on this one.

25 Most Distinctive Opening Bass Lines In Rock Music History article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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