Paul McCartney once said, “None of us wanted to be the bass player. In our minds he was the fat guy who always played at the back”. This reminded me of being a kid in the playground and how everyone wants to be Ally McCoist or Henrik Larsson and nobody wants to play in goal.

We’ve all been present at those demeaning moments when the cool athletic kids were picking sides for football, where the fat, skinny, specky, geeky or foreign kids are left to the end, and more often than not, they usually end up in goals.
But putting Karma and my mental scars aside, the good news for all of us is that every once in a while, there is a fat kid who actually revels in the muck, who loves diving around to parry shots from all angles and who might just go on to become an Andy Goram.

Suzi Quatro, a lady who knows a thing or two about the bass and its effect on the crotch said, “The bass player’s function, along with the drums, is the engine that drives the car… everything else is merely colours”. She also said, “Guitar is for the head, drums are for the chest, but bass gets you in the groin”.

The bass gives music its sex and Steve Swallow reinforces this when he admits, “Occasionally, when I run into a great bass backstage at a festival, I’ll play a few notes on the low E string, just to feel the instrument vibrate against my belly”.

My own recollection of this effect was watching Massive Attack at T in the Park a few years ago with Rico, and just as the sonic waves coming from the stage vibrated through the grass, up through my legs and deep in to my groin, Rico turned to me and said, “Fecking feel that man, that is what a bass should feel like!”

Remembering that these “who is the greatest” articles are all a bit of fun and that I am using personal reflections to stimulate the debate rather than influence, here are some Scottish bass players who can make my bits tingle:

1. John Symon Asher “Jack” Bruce

Born 14 May 1943 in Bishopbriggs, Jack Bruce (pictured above) is perhaps most famous as the vocalist and bass guitarist for the 1960s rock band Cream. Geezer Butler alleged, “Jack Bruce, as soon as I saw him, it changed me. I didn’t even know what bass players did until I saw Cream”. Bruce was an inspiration to generations of bass players including Sting and Mark King.

Recommended hippy slapping “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream

Sunshine of Your Love


2. James Dewar

Glaswegian Dewar (12 October 1942 – 16 May 2002) was the bassist and vocalist for Robin Trower and Stone The Crows (STC) and also the bass player for Lulu and the Lurvers. Dewar and STC were resident at the legendary Burns Howff in Glasgow before Jimmy departed STC and moved to London to form the short lived Jude with Frankie Miller and then latterly fill US stadiums with Robin Trower.

Dewar was not only an innovative and imaginative bass player but a top vocalist. Sadly it seems that, unlike Americans, Scots will sometimes forget about their founding musicians and Jimmy’s death in a Paisley hospital in May of 2002 went largely unnoticed to the shame of our nation.

Recommended 17 minutes and 18 seconds of mega jam, “I Saw America” by Stone the Crows.

Stone the Crows – Danger Zone


3. Derek Forbes

Born 22 June 1956, in Glasgow, Forbes was the bassist for Simple Minds from the album, ‘Life in a Day’, through to their hit, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”. I mind lying in bed late at night as a kid with one of those moulded white ear pieces and a wee tranny (no jokes needed), listening to John Peel when he played this new Scottish band called Simple Minds. The bass lines on those first Minds records were transcendent and I was shaken out of my 70s glam and into the world of Human League, Cocteau Twins and Magazine.

Hopefully there will be a point where Simple Minds will be remembered not only for “Don’t You Forget about Me”, Jim Kerr’s wives, or for failing to be Scotland’s U2, but instead for producing some of the most original electro-dance tunes ever put on a record.

Recommended track to Mind the bass on, “Sweat in Bullet” by Simple Minds”

Sweat in Bullet


4. Frankie Poullain

Francis Gilles Poullain-Patterson born in Milnathort 15 April 1967, was the bass player for rock band The Darkness. The Darkness made two mistakes in life – one: not dropping the joke and making their second album a great straight rock record; and two: getting rid of Frankie Poullain i.e. the coolest member of the band.

Love them or loath them here was a band who could play the sequinned white leather chaps off any other cock-rock band, and at the heart of it was Frankie looking cooler than a Burnt Island ice-cream.

Recommended what ever happened to The Darkness track: “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” by The Darkness

Get Your Hands Off My Woman

5. Chris Glen

Born 6 November 1950 in Paisley, Chris is a bassist who has played in The Jade, Tear Gas, The Party Boys, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Michael Schenker Group. He also toured with Ian Gillan for a short period alongside fellow SAHB drummer, Ted McKenna.

Through these “greatest” XYZ thingies, I realise that I am starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to SAHB but the reason is all in the name, Alex called them “The Sensational Alex Harvey Band”. They were Alex’s band and to be Alex’s band nothing less than Sensational was expected.
While a few of Derek Forbes attempts come close, I defy anyone to let me hear a better bass line on a Scottish record than on ‘Faith Healer’.

Recommended Glen groove, Faith Healer by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Faith Healer

A few other Scottish bass players

Gal ‘Galchen’
To my shame I have never known Gal’s real name and their website is even less informative so I will have to stick to the fact that Galchen are one of the best young bands in Scotland, based out of the secret world of 4th Street Studios, where to make an uncool record is not an option. Galchen produces music that is Scottish to the roots and in a manner which I can only described as euphoric Mogwai.

Recommended: The band don’t give the tracks any names so anything from

Russell Webb
Born 1958 in Glasgow, Webb is a New Wave bass guitarist who was member of bands like Slik, PVC2 (both with Midge Ure), The Zones, The Skids, The Armoury Show and Public Image Ltd. What a CV!

Recommended Scottish punk “The Saints are Coming” by The Skids (or Circus Games – Ed.)

Tomaso Capuano Rico
The first time I saw Rico was on MTV2 Brand New and I had no idea he was from Scotland, let alone Paisley, so when he played King Tuts I was front row. On bass was his brother Tomaso (one of the most sensitive gentlemen I have ever had the privilege of sharing a beer with) who bashed at the bass until his fist bled. Total commitment to sending in some noise.

Recommended industrial warfare: “Attack Me” by Rico

Guy Rupert Berryman
Born 12 April 1978, in Kirkcaldy, Berryman is the bassist with Coldplay. A nuts Raith Rovers supporter, a fine bass player and living proof that there is at least one Scotsman called “Rupert”.

Recommended MOR or less “Yellow” by Coldplay

Philip Neil Murray
Born 27 August 1950 in Edinburgh, Murray is best known for his work in Whitesnake and Black Sabbath. If you are looking for a Scottish bass player with a pedigree longer than Sarah Palin’s nose, look no further.

Recommended cock rock tune: “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

Dougie Payne
Douglas Payne, born 14 November 1972 in Glasgow is the bassist and backing vocalist for Travis. Playing pop well is an art and this Art School grad is one of the best.

Recommended knowing where less is more on a bass-line, “Paperclips” by Travis

Alan Thomson
Born May 3rd, 1960, in Glasgow, Thomson has been the bass player and vocalist with many acts including the late John Martyn.

Recommended fireside playing “Baby Come Home” by John Martyn

James Johnston
Born on 25 April 1980 in Kilmarnock, James is the bassist, vocalist, and songwriter with Biffy Clyro.

Recommended song to shout “C’mon the Biffy” to after a fine piece of bass playing “Just Boy” by Biffy Clyro

Pete Agnew
Born 14 September 1946 in Dunfermline, Agnew is the bassist for the legendary rock band Nazareth and when he plays his smile is as big as the Forth Road Bridge.

Recommended bass salvation, “Shanghaied ‘n’ Shanghai” by Nazareth

Alan Gorrie
Born 19 July 1946, in Perth, Gorrie is the bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, singer and founding member of the Average White Band.

Recommended: Randy Jackson said; “Ha! Slapping, the ketchup of the bass world!”, so put some salt and brown sauce with that and you have “Pick Up the Pieces” by The Average White Band


A couple more bass quotes:

“A chord is not a chord until the bass player decides which note to play”- Sting

“I decided to make a profession out of what i do best but i could make much money from masturbation so i decided to fall back on my skills as a bass player” – Les Claypool

“Women and rhythm section first” – – Jaco Pastorius

Mince Bass Joke:

A couple was having difficulties so the marriage counsellor told them that their problems could all be traced to a lack of communication. “You two need to talk so I recommend that you go to a gig then wait until it’s time for the bass player to solo, then you’ll be talking just like everyone else.”

Who should be in the final 5? Voting starts next Wednesday.



  1. Good call on Jack Bruce, also throwing hat in the ring for Dominic from Mogwai for his second-to-none bass riffage.

  2. hmm, interesting! Surely there’s more of note than those in their 60s though. I’d add Gareth Russell, currently with Idlewild, formerly of Astrid and also plays with Strike The Colours, Reindeer Section, Summer of Mars. Been seen with Eugene Kelly, Terra Diablo and Foxface. And def Dominic from Mogwai. Agree with James from Biffy. Campbell MacNeil from Aereogramme… I’ll stop now…

  3. Bathgate’s legendary FIN WILSON (Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, Angelfish and Isa & the Filthy Tongues).

    Best moment – the pulsing introduction on “HARD” from 1993’s classic Goodbye Mr Mackenzie “FIVE” album.

  4. Thanks for the comments so far. I should add that, as with previous polls, we’ll put together a final five for a public vote next week. Nothing is decided yet so keep the suggestions coming.

  5. Russel Webb was good like the skids before him but they matured with him in the band, a new singer would have been good for the skids also, what nationality was he never made out a word of what he said.

  6. Alex, it was really good to mention Russell Webb but then showing a video with Bill Simpson (Saints Are Coming) is a wee bit of an oversight no? Russell didnt join the band until The Absolute Game Album :/
    Circus Games or Out Of Town would have been a better choice of video maybe?

  7. thanks Alex, wish there was more video of Russell Webb, his contributions to the Skids and as you mention also Slik, PVC2, The Zones, The Armoury Show and Public Image Ltd, must put him right up there at the top 🙂 …also a great keyboard player, percussionist, producer etc etc ..a major major talent 🙂

  8. Thanx for the Russell input. I may be wrong but I thought he played on a re-released single version but I have a wee probs with video as Turkey where I now live has banned youtube and my internet connection is too rubbish to use a proxy so I leave the vids to the ed, that said my grey cells are time damaged so I should have double checked before suggesting the song so thanks again and for any other reader feel free to keep me in check on history x

  9. Wes Wemyss! Plays in Fife with a band called the Balgoniz. Not afraid to wear a gent’s disco kilt on stage.

  10. Agreed with the posters just above – there *is* no “Scotland’s Best Bassist” poll without Chris Glen as an option, SURELY?

    No disrespect to the others, but – c’mon.

  11. i wanted to vote for chris glen of the sensational alex harvey band……………..and he aint even listed, shame on you !!!

  12. To all the Chris Glen fans visiting today: unfortunately we had to decide on our final 5 last night.
    If it’s any consolation, Zal Cleminson featured heavily in our Greatest Guitarist discussion, Ted Mckenna was joint 4th in our Greatest Drummer poll, and we expect that Mr. Downie will have Alex Harvey near the top of his vocalist shortlist later this month.

  13. Understand that there must be deadlines but I too wanted to vote for Chris Glen, his work with SAHB, MSG and Ian Gillan gives him far more credibility than others in the top 5.

  14. I don’t know if Chris Glen would top Jack Bruce, but at the very least he should be in the top five.

  15. Why cant I vote for Chris Glen? Not in the top 5 ?are u serious?

    SAHB; MSG; Gillian-Come on-get it right!!

  16. This is surely not gonna be taken seriously if we can’t vote for Chris Glen.
    As a bass player myself i appriciate his powers as a driving force behind many a great band.

    please re-think your voting system in the fairness of choice ……………..and humanity itself

  17. No Chris Glen OR Alan Thomson?

    Whits gaun oan here?

    Alan Thomson is one of THE best bassists in the world,never mind Scotland.

  18. this is a p*** take isnt it alec? is this you trying to have a go at chris glen for some reason. you of all know how good a bass player he is.. you want to shake your head hard and get a grip of yourself if you think some of the mentioned names are better than chris.. the man is a legend. look at the bands hes played in man… what a f****** joke….

  19. Starting to look like you dropped a bollock there mate anyone who plays bass for MSG and John Martyn has got to be good

  20. Where Zal & Ted featured in their respective categories is neither here nor there. What’s the point – and where is the democratic procedure – of giving us a list up until the day voting commences and THEN providing only a short list which does NOT contain the name of the bass player that I would vote for??

    Just how did the “short list” come about? Who decided?
    Not the fans, that’s for sure – we couldn’t vote until it was too late!!!! BOOOOOOO!!!!! Shame on you!! AND you’ve had THE CHEEK to register on the SAHB forum – MODERATOR!!!

    Is Chris Glen not on that short list because he’s tall???

    How much of Jack Bruce’s work with Cream were spent IN SCOTLAND?????? Pardon?? Sorry?? How many???? Ah! NONE!!

  21. AND ANOTHER THING…..NO, it’s no consolation!!!!

    In all honesty, I wouldn’t expect His Chrisness to win, however, I DID expect the opporchancity to vote for him – HARRAUMPH!!


    Pointless poll

  22. The guy from Simple Minds, ye’ve got to be kidding, this thing must be run by simple minds, Chris Glen, Bass player extraordinaire, played with the highest grossing live act of the 70s, the incomparable Sensational Alex Harvey Band, the driving engine of The Michael Schenker Group and has played with many other greats in the world of real music, and who the fuck is Mogwai, is that not the wee guy from Jungle Books wee brother ?

  23. Regards last message being anonymous shows lack of balls and your post shows lack of intelligence THICKY

  24. Is that yer man from Coldplay that’s pure pish??

    One would concur.

    Chris Glen led the way for so many of the more “current” chaps……..and could NEVER be described as “pure pish” – “puredeadbrilliantbythe way”, maybe but never “pure pish” – not by anyone with any taste or musical leaning, that is.

  25. Dear Scotland,

    Are ye not thinkin’ again……like the flower of……..

    If not, perhaps you should be sent homewards,like edward’s army,. tae think again.

    Maybe the S NHS could provide a truss ……this is one major dropped bollock…….

  26. I have been denied the opportunity to vote for Chris Glen……..Dear Scotland, you have got this so wrong

  27. Through the grapevine it becomes clear that is is a fudge. What happened to the other contenders? I vote for Chris Glen although this vote will not be counted, it may still be charged. Charges from a mobile will cost considerably more.
    You must be 18 or over to vote. Please ensure that you have the permission of the bill payer before you call.




  29. What no Chris Glen, i’m away in a huff, if my name was Hadrian i’d build a wall to keep all those pish bassests out except for the mighty Glen Benson inc Ltd .com
    am I biased? you bet the contents of your sporren I am.

    Annoyed of England.

  30. It is not just Chris Glen who should be on the short list – we should have had the chance to vote on any of those originally listed. Bad show chaps, bad show.

  31. Brian Rix – who never played a bass guitar in his puff – would have been so proud of this farce

  32. It would be nice if the SAHB fans read the article before givin folks pelters, I recomended my 5 above and added a few others to the pot for consideration so if you read the article Chris is well in my top 5, however it is a bit of fun and sorry to say the SAHB posse have been slow on the uptake so The Dear our ed made the poll from feedback gathered, as he stated he would do so as much as I am a wee bit gutted Chris did not make the poll but it is all done as a bit of fun and fairly and hopefully you Sahbsters can all give Alex a push when we do vocalists next week, Vambo Rule!

  33. Not trying to be a smart arse but I think the point was made in the article that a) this is a bit of fun and b) if some support had been shown Chris Glen last week he might have made it in. I expect thats the way that the Mogwai bassist made it in.

    But what do I know? I actually like Coldplay and thought Guy would be in for sure so there you go.

  34. It would seem that not too many SAHBsters spend time reading your articles – even though they may well have been of interest.

    Obviously it’s a bit of fun – no musician could hope to place a deposit on a small Carribbean island on the back of winning this poll – I don’t think the chaps were too up in high dudgeon – just a bit miffed.

  35. As a commited SAHBSTER feel free to come down to the black country and call me “slow on the uptake” to my face.

    merry xmas

  36. sorry for my post of mine that you deleted…

    was over the top i suppose.. lol.

    chris should still have pissed the poll though..

  37. Out of the List of 5 i’m going with Forbes! I’m also a fan of the work of Ewan Vernal ( Deacon Blue, Capercaillie) & David Paton ( Pilot, Kate Bush, Fish, Alan Parsons project)

  38. Loads of good players in there, and I agree with some of the above, Mr Glen should have made the shortlist – at least

  39. Well I Have to say that I’m a little disappointed that the bass player from short-lived Glaswegian outfit Curll didn’t make it in. He was full of ideas and some say influenced most players emerging from the indie/punk scene since the mid-90s

  40. no chris glen……………………..whats goin on?

    Perhaps you could run a poll on the greatest living Scotsman to wear his underpants on the outside of his keks?

  41. yeah if you are a jazzer. Too much wood and strings. Great playing, but could you whistle it? Raven from Killing Joke had a bass with one string…and frankly my dear, that’s all you need…

  42. Alan Thomson is a fine allrounder, I am a bit biased as he blows us away when he plays in the wife’s band (Violet Leighton)… bassist, Guitarist and backing singer, but no one talks to their partners when he does his bass solo thang… Ewan Vernal also played a blinder wi the wife’s jazz band.. but beeg Al gets the nod..

  43. Not one mention of Mr Rockin Roll that is Pete Agnew from Nazareth . 40 years plus and still touring more than ANY of the top 5 or any other mentioned on the forum. But then again he aint from Glasgow is he ………

  44. Grant – Actually he is mentioned. Above Alan Gorrie. Are you suggesting a bias against non-Glaswegian bass players?

  45. I’m obviously too late but just for the record it’s got to be CHRIS GLEN, regardless of the actual votes

  46. Vote for Dougie, He’s not master bassist, but he’s greatest bassist entertainer, funny, playful, kittenish , so I love him so much.

  47. Sorry but it has to be Fin Wilson of Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, Angelfish and current Scottish up and coming Isa and the filthy tongues. Hands down super sexy super talented.
    He has my vote.

  48. The living in Oz ….John Manby. A bassists bass player.

    Ask your dads big brother.

  49. Guy Berryman from Coldplay is awesome. Nothing memorable but he allows the song to flow naturally with his soft basslines. Check out High Speed or Square One by Coldplay

    Check out his side project as well called Apparatjik – that’s some WAY OUT THERE stuff!

  50. David Collins from Glasgow band “Rollor” has definitely got the best sounding bass I’ve ever heard.

  51. Lets here it fot the new generation !

    Best young Bass player I have ever heard, is Kenny Lenehan.(Glasgow based Musician)

    Formerly of the rock group Siphon, now with King of Crows (2013). Kenny makes it all look so easy, (which it is not!), and pours out big heart pounding rifts, which quickly connects with everyone. A young musician going places……watch this space!

  52. The new Darkness song Open Fire is great, and Frankie is back on bass for their fourth album