Hartke, one of the leading bass amplification manufacturers in the world, left a mark on Los Angeles' Fonda Theatre on Saturday, November 9 at Bass Player LIVE! The company brought together some of music's finest players for an all-star tribute to bass legend Geezer Butler. The all-star lineup partnered vocalists Corey Taylor (SLIPKNOT, STONE SOUR), Doug Pinnick (KING'S X) and Sebastian Bach (formerly of SKID ROW) with guitarists Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) and Chris Broderick (MEGADETH) alongside a collection of some of the most notable bass players in music today. Frank Bello (ANTHRAX), David Ellefson (MEGADETH), Rex Brown (KILL DEVIL HILL, PANTERA), Billy Sheehan (THE WINERY DOGS), JD DeServio (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY), Jason Newsted (NEWSTED, formerly of METALLICA) and Rudy Sarzo (QUIET RIOT, OZZY OSBOURNE, DIO, WHITESNAKE) rotated bass duties on a set list that consisted of some of BLACK SABBATH's most notable songs as well as some rarely performed gems. Drummer Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) was sole timekeeper handling all of the drum parts for every song. The all-stars and attending crowd were even treated to a performance by the legend and Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Geezer Butler, grabbing the bass for SABBATH classics "Fairies Wear Boots" and "N.I.B."
In a recent interview with Loudwire, Newsted stated about Butler: "Geezer, for me — not really sure how to describe it. Somehow he just got his hooks into me. Maybe he did that with many other bass players too, but he was a lead bassist from the get go. BLACK SABBATH, there's a lot of space in those songs. There's a lot of room for everyone to go off and he was always doing that so supportive and so musical with the drums, very jazz-oriented rhythm section in BLACK SABBATH that just got super loud and heavy. Very progressive. So that was always a big influence on me, having the bass that loud up front like that. That attracted all of us."
He added: "Ever since I discovered Geezer and that he wrote most of the lyrics, and he was the guy that was really the driving force for the band, that was the greatest impression for me. Probably the first guy to inspire me to be that in all the bands I was in. From way back, any of those people that were the leaders as bassists. Lemmy. Steve Harris. Peter Baltes from ACCEPT. A lot of these cats. Any of these people that were leaders as bassists were a great influence on me. Geezer is the first on that list."
Asked what Butler's impact on him was, Taylor told ARTISTdirect: "I think one of the great things about Geezer Butler was his ear for how music could fit together. Between him and Tony Iommi, they wrote the bulk of that music. Unconsciously, growing up as a SABBATH fan, it made me realize that things didn't just have to follow musically. Things could fit on top of each other that maybe didn't sound like they could coexist. Then, you put them together, and you're like, 'Oh, wow!' There was such a dynamic virtue to the music. It's one of those things you almost take for granted. It's the difference between hearing SABBATH play live and seeing a band try to cover it because they never get it right. There's such a nuance there that is so different that you really don't understand it until you see the real thing. The impact for me was really about the complexity of the simplicity and making it feel unlimited with something as simple as the way the bass, the drums, and the guitar fit together, whether the singing was in it or not. I think that was a hell of a lesson for me, because it was the way I approached music as well. To hear another band do it and almost unconsciously give me that lesson, that was the one major thing about SABBATH I truly love and I think most people miss."
In a 2011 interview with For Bass Players Only, Geezer stated about his musical upbringing: "I had absolutely no formal musical education. I suppose my earliest musical experience happened when I was about 7 or 8 years old. Skiffle was big in England at the time and the bass players would make basses out of a tea chest, a broomstick and string. I had a toolkit for Christmas, so I made a 'guitar' from two pieces of wood, nails and rubber bands.
"My first real guitar was an acoustic, bought from a kid at school when I was 11. It had two strings and cost ten shillings (about seventy-five cents). I used to play BEATLES vocal melodies on it, no chords. Eventually, my brother saw how serious I was about learning to play and he bought me a new guitar, complete with six strings, for eight pounds (about twelve dollars), when I was 13. I learned to play chords, mainly BEATLES songs, with the help of Bert Weedon's 'Play In A Day' book.
"I formed a group with some schoolmates and we called ourselves THE RUUMS. I eventually bought an electric guitar, a Hofner Colorama, and an amp, a Selmer. We played a few birthday parties and a wedding. The guitarist, Roger 'Dope' Hope, and I wanted to get serious about the band, so we replaced the drummer and bass player, recruited a vocalist and started playing heavier, blues-orientated stuff and changed the name to THE RARE BREED. We played around Birmingham at proper gigs, but we were never asked back because of our outlandish (for then) stage act. We were so desperate for gigs, we temporarily changed the name to THE FUTURE, but when we turned up at gigs, the promoter would recognize us and refuse to let us play. Finally, the singer left to be replaced by Ozzy [Osbourne]. We did one or two gigs, then disbanded."
Photo credit: Neil Zlozower
Artisan News video report:
"The energy and excitement by everyone in the room was overwhelming. Looking out on that stage and seeing this amazing roster of musicians along with the honoree himself, Geezer Butler playing these classic songs up close and personal was awe-inspiring. We knew we were witnessing something special and looking out in the crowd, they knew it too," says Hartke's director of marketing, Mark Menghi. "I even saw Robert Trujillo of METALLICA in the crowd acting like a kid in the candy store when Geezer took the stage. Having the honor of presenting the Bass Player Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award to Geezer was easily one of the most memorable nights of my career and Hartke was glad to be a part of it."
"This was the year metal took over Bass Player magazine! To honor Geezer Butler, THE quintessential metal bassist, was the pinnacle of dedication to our genre," explains MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson. "To prove it, a congregation of the top ranking metal bassists and musicians were in the house, all to show our respect to Geezer for all of his remarkable contributions and songs that have been the soundtrack to our lives."
"Terry 'Geezer' Butler is my number 1 influence and greatest teacher of electric bass," says Jason Newsted. "All true metal bassists look up to Geezer as a pioneer and Godfather of our chosen instrument. The best, ever."
Fan-filmed video footage:
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