Cliff Burton, Geddy Lee and Flea Named in Top Bass Poll

Duran Duran's John Taylor takes top spot.

Ultimate Guitar

Geddy Lee, Les Claypool, Cliff Burton and Flea have been named in a poll of the best bassists ever.

Duran Duran's John Taylor was named in top spot, taking an overwhelming 30% of the vote in MusicRadar's poll of the 60 best bass players of all time.

Rush hero Lee came in second, with Flea reaching sixth and Primus virtuoso Claypool in 12th place. On Lee, MusicRadar says (via Metal Hammer): "The Rush man has inspired thousands to pick up the bass guitar, and many of the other bassists in this rundown cite him as an influence. A leading frontman, songwriter and a remarkable bass talent, it's no surprise he remains perennially popular with you guys."

Late Metallica star Burton was 13th, while Iron Maiden's Steve Harris was 16th and Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler 21st. On Burton, the website adds: "His influence can be felt all over Metallica's first three genre-defining LPs."

Other rock heroes to make the list include Thin Lizzy's late frontman Phil Lynott at number 25, Motorhead's Lemmy at 27 and Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan at number 32.

Bootsy Collins came in at 31 and the Pixies' Kim Deal lands at 40 – ahead of KISS hero Gene Simmons in 45th place and late Slipknot member Paul Gray at number 50. Roger Glover of Deep Purple, PIL's Jah Wobble and Genesis star Mike Rutherford also make the top 60, while prolific session bassist Carol Kaye is at number 41.

The Top 20 Greatest Bassists of All Time Are:

01. John Taylor (Duran Duran)
02. Geddy Lee (Rush)
03. Simon Gallup (The Cure)
04. Mark King (Level 42)
05. Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report)
06. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
07. John Entwistle (The Who)
08. Victor Wooten
09. John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
10. Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
11. James Jamerson (The Funk Brothers)
12. Les Claypool (Primus)
13. Cliff Burton (Metallica)
14. Bernard Edwards (Chic)
15. John Myung (Dream Theater)
16. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
17. Tony Levin
18. Mick Karn (Japan)19. Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) 20. Chris Squire (Yes)

148 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Wait. Whaaat?!
    Late Slipknot player Paul Gay?
    HAHA! Classic UG f**kup. Whenever I think of great bass players I dont think in a million years I would ever consider John Taylor of Duran Duran. I will have to check him out sometime.
    Superb bassist. Glad to see Mark King on there too. '80s pop did have some talented musicians compared to more recent mainstream music. Compare Duran Duran writing and performing their own stuff to boy bands who are just singers using backing tapes of music made by others. Prince, the Bros drummer, even a-Ha - even if you don't like the music at least it was musicians in the bands not just singers.
    I wouldn't have expected John Taylor on this list (UG is ALWAYS way to heavy on the hard rock/metal side) however seeing Mark King rated so highly is awesome. Level 42 never really made it in the US but I always thought he was incredible on bass.
    I don't like Duran Duran all that well, but the basslines keep floating around in my head. He's pretty good, imo.
    Obviously too many Europeans voting in this pole...take #s 17 & 19 and put them at the top.....
    The fact that Charles Mingus, Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham Jr. aren't even among the top 20 personally offends me. I hate the internet.
    Is the poll voted on by the public? Because that'll always come down to a popularity contest and those guys possibly don't carry enough weight in that regard
    Agreed. And I love The Cure but Simon Gallup is hardly one of the greatest bass players of all time.
    Simon Gallup is absolutely one of my favorite bass players, when it comes to style, sound and riffs. I would rate him very high on my personal list of favorite bass players, but on a list of "Best bassist ever", I would absolutely not put him this high, and that goes for many of the names on this list.
    Exactly. I love The Cure as well, but that was just ludicrous. Nevermind Mingus, I'm a better bassist than Simon Gallup.
    Jaco Pastorius, Aston "Family Man" Barrett and Victor Wooten should be in the top three. John Taylor...that is a f'ing joke!
    Good to see him on this list
    Sammy Mantis
    True, but not at #4.
    Your right. #3 would have been better.
    Sammy Mantis
    Not really. Especially with Stanley Clarke being totally absent from the top 20. Not to mention Michael Manring, Stu Hamm,Jeff Berlin, and many more that make the entries of the list look like fools.
    It is good to see him here for sure. I sometimes get the feeling that most people don't even know he exists.
    Well, okay, the list is not the way that I'd put it personally. But as someone who's only now hearing the name John Taylor for the first time, can anybody recommend any songs that really show off his talent? I'm only really familiar with 'Hungry Like the Wolf' on the Duran Duran front.
    Duran Duran had good basslines??? I just remember synth. I should probably go back and listen then. Also I would've thought Fieldy from Korn would've been on the list somewhere
    Way to keep Tony Levin bandless! You could have put Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, Liquid Tension Experiment, King Crimson, Pink Floyd) and dozens of others.
    Simon Gallup 3rd? Not entirely sure on that one...
    It's cool he's mentioned though. Obviously, you can pretty objectively say that it's not true...but still cool. Regardless, his basslines are crucial for the Cure.
    Agreed. He does play a lot of featured, signature parts in Cure tunes, that would be my guess as to why he's there. But you have to think a lot of those are Robert Smith bass lines, just re-played by Simon. Cool stuff and all, but definitely nothing earth shattering...
    Michael Manring maybe? Should hear him out!
    Definitely, imo he is the greatest of the greatest! Go listen to Enormous Room and you'll realize he is the boss!
    I am gonna beat a non-living horse, but I think Claypool should be #1 . . . at least in the top 3
    1. Les Claypool 2. Justin Chancellor 3. Flea
    1. Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report 2. Justin Chancellor (Tool) 3. Stanley Clarke (Return To Forever)
    I would rate geezer a lot higher
    Glad someone else thought that. I won't be a fanboy and clamor for him to be #1, but easily a top 15, if not top 10 pick. I've seen way more technical players, but I never had any interest in bass until I started fiddling with his bass lines and riffs.
    It may shock you to learn that i'm a huge Duran Duran fan & it's John Taylor that made me want to pick up a bass. I think he is a far better player than people give him credit for, but as much as I admire the man & his bass playing even I know he's not #1. I suppose it's a credit to the man that he can still top polls like this after all these years. I wonder who voted? People that actually play & understand bass or the fact he still appeals to all the Girls & was voted for his looks? As I say JT is my main man but i'm not blind to see there are many other bass players out there who should get the #1 spot. What about John's hero Bernard Edwards from Chic? PS. I'm so pleased Mick Karn from Japan was in the top 20. RIP Mick.
    Cliff should be way higher than that.
    I'm a big fan of his stuff but he was never that great. The sound he produced was great but it wasn't that hard to do. Compare that to dudes like Les Claypool and Victor Wooten and you wouldn't consider him 'great'
    Cliff Burton <3
    you are right about that but i think he was/is great not only for the sound he produced(pulling teeth)but also for what he wrote.the intro in for whom the bell tols and the whole orion bass line are perfect.there is no denial that Les adn Victor and lot of other are better than him but he died young.i'm sure that if he was still alive he would write better stuff
    Cliff Burton <3
    you are right about that but i think he was/is great not only for the sound he produced(pulling teeth)but also for what he wrote.the intro in for whom the bell tols and the whole orion bass line are perfect.there is no denial that Les adn Victor and lot of other are better than him but he died young.i'm sure that if he was still alive he would write better stuff
    I just think John Myung should have been within Top 10 , but come on 15 really?
    Darth Crow
    I believe JM is at a quite appropriate spot. He is one of the greats, but not top 5 or 10 material. But I don't like the list overall... many crazy jazz players are missing. However, Geddy Lee is right where he should be, he is my personal favourite
    There's a dude called Jaco; I don't know if you've hear of him. But he was the greatest. Just check what Jaco Pastorius did with the bass. Not my personal favourite, but he's on a whole other level, he changed the game.
    Stanley Clarke takes a bass player on tour with him to play "traditional" bass parts while he does his thing. This should have been divided between pop bassists and jazz bassists. Or at least differentiate upright from electric bass players. They really are two different worlds and skill sets.
    Yes yes, it's all subjective, but Justin Chancellor not even being in the top 20 is an absolute disgrace!
    The Judist
    Darryl Jones Tony Butler (Big Country) Bruce Foxton (The Jam etc) should be on there
    Don't agree with the order, but a good list of bassists overall. A bit surprised to not see John Deacon on here.
    I find it hilarious how people are flipping shit over this list - Just as a reminder for most people here, the second you're no longer in UG, and on some general-music website, technical prowess and skill become much less important factors - Most of the Wednesday questions are actually quite predictable because of that inclination which other sits lack that usually rules who gets voted, and who gets nominated. Also, why the **** is this thing news? How low has UG come when top-lists of other sites have become "general music news"?
    Guys, really, Paul McCartney should be No 1. If you have listened to the entire Beatles discography you will know this. Some songs to notice are "Rain", "And your Bird can sing", "Obla Di Obla Da"
    Yabba Who
    Going by technical ability, he shouldn't be number 1, or even in the top 10. But the fact that every musician who's touched an instrument in the last 50 years has copied him in some way, shape or form makes him #1.
    that list sucks so bad its actually offensive. do people even understand what bass is all about?the ridicule is more obvious later on in the list but especially the fact that there are people ranked higher than jaco hurts .i think its time at least for the bass to start viewing 2 different power groups. Because the brainly harmonic interplay of guys like paul chambers jaco mcbride claypool m,miller etc cannot be listed at the same list as people who dont improvise even if they have provided some cool basslines along the way like Gallup and J.taylor
    Matt Freeman from Rancid should be on this list . . . along with Ryan Martine from Mudvayne
    Paul higher than Steve Harris.....think about that
    as much as i like steve harris, paul mccartney does a little more than just playing triplets in the key of
    let the dumbsh1t-fanboys down-voting begin rofl. (i may not think they are phenomenal, but doesn't mean i think they suck...just calling it like it is. can't deal with your idols being thought of as more than being merely human? deal with it. lol)
    McCartney is a legend and a good bass player, but he doesn't deserve to be on this list. I would've liked to see Chris Squire much higher on this list!
    Made an account just to ask why the hell isn't Lee Sklar even mentioned here?
    John Taylor in the top 1000? They polled women in their 40s? Everyone know Taylor could hardly play his bass he was hired as eye candy. He was voted 5 times the sexiest rock star