After Entwistle, Jamerson, Lee and Jones,  these are the best of the rest of the Top Rock Bassists. The same criteria
was used in evaluating these artists as the overall Top 10 Bassists. If you disagree with our choices, submit your list for
our "
Wall of Fame" from the list in our October's "View from the Top".
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Leslie Edward "Les" Claypool was born on September 29, 1963, in
Richmond, California into a  working-class family with a history of working as
auto mechanics. As a teenager, he took up the bass and was influenced by  
Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Larry Graham, Tony Levin, Paul McCartney, John
Paul Jones, Geezer Butler, Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke and Sting. He met
Kirk Hammett (Metallica) in De Anza High School who asked Les to join his
hard rock band. (Kirk later would also arranged an
audition with Metallica for
Les replace Cliff Burton after his death as bassist for Metallica in 1986). Les
preferred to join a progressive metal band, '
Blind Illusion', while broadening
his musical horizons by playing in jazz and swing bands. The band did one
album,
Sane Asylum (1987), on Combat Records. After graduation, Les  
played in the Tommy Crank Band', a cover band playing blues, R&B and funk.
1991 proved to be an even better year for the group, as their Interscope debut,
Sailing the Seas of Cheese,, went gold within a year of its release. The trio opened
for Public Enemy, Anthrax, U2, Fishbone, and Rush. Also in 1991, the band was
featured in the cult classic movie
Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, performing,
"
Tommy the Cat"
Les bought his first Carl Thompson piccolo bass after seeing Stanley Clarke play
one. This would become Les' traqdemark bass. The original material that Les
wrote at this time would become his impetus for Primus. Originally called Primate,
(Alexander left the band in 1996 and was replaced by Brian "Brain" MantiaIn). In
1989, the band recorded their debut album, a live set called
Suck on This. After
extensive college airplay, their second album,
Frizzle Fry (1990) was enough to
get them booked to open on a Jane's Addiction tour.
1.
LES  CLAYPOOL
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Les did meet musical kindred spirit, Larry LaMonde, in Blind Illusion who
would become an original members of Primus (originally called Primate) in
1989. Upon Les discovering such fusion and funk bass greats as Stanley
Clarke and Larry Graham, he began incorporating "slapping" into his playing
technique taught to him by family friend, Rhys Hickman.
Les' style today has
evolved into a mix of tapping, flamenco-like strumming, whammy bar bends
as well as slapping.
Les' stage shows are always an experience. One never knows exactly what to expect.
breaking up fights, being pelted by water bottles, or playing whack stand up bass
wearing stupid hats, the one thing Les never is boring.
A surprise Top 10 hit followed in 1993 with "Pork Soda" and subsequent headlining
Les was pelted with mus during his performance of "
My Name is Mud". More hits
came throughout the 90's with
Tales from the Punchbowl, The Brown Album,
Rhinoplasty, and Antipop, as well as the theme song for Matt Stone's 'South Park'.  
In 1999, he let Activision use "
Jerry Was A Racecar Driver" on the Tony Hawk's Pro
Skater
video game.
Claypool has always had time for side projects: 'Sausage' which was a reunion of the original Primus lineup of guitarist
Todd Huth and drummer Jay Lane), Les Claypool and the
Holy Mackerel (Highball with the Devil), Flying Frog Brigade
(
Live Frogs, Purple Onion) and the side project with Phish's Trey Anastasio and The Police's s Stewart Copland called
Oysterhead. Beyond their only album, The Grand Pecking Order (2002) their appearance at Bonaroo was memorable
(At least Les' was!) Les also guested on albums by
Buckethead, Jerry Cantrell, Victor, Limp Bizkit, Tom Waits, and Rob
Wasserman. He released
Of Whales and Woe (2006), his first totally solo project.
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'Rancho Relaxo'. 2006 saw the release of a full-length feature film, Electric Apricot,
written and directed by Claypool as well as a debut novel
South of the Pumphouse.
been likened to the work of Hunter S. Thompson. The book  is currently in its seventh
been likened to the work of Hunter S. Thompson. The book  is currently in its seventh
printing.
Les (middle) with early Primus
In 2006, Primus released both their first greatest hits CD, They Can't All Be Zingers
and their third DVD
Blame It on The Fish, subtitled An Abstract Look at the 2003
Primus Tour De Fromage. The CD included 16 digitally remastered songs that span
their entire career, including a previously unreleased and extended version of
"
Shake Hands with Beef", After playing a few festivals in 2008, in 2010 original
drummer, Jay Lane, rejoined the group for an Australian tour. Today, Primus is
touring in support of a new album,
Green Naugahyde, released in September, 2012,
featuring songs like "
Jilly's On Smack" and "Tragedy's A'Comin".
  • "Please don’t throw your shit at me… unless that shit resembles a bag of marijuana." --- Les Claypool
LES' DISCOGRAPHY
Yes, They SaiD It...
Sausage:
Riddles Are Abound Tonight (1994)

Holy Mackerel
Highball with the Devil (1997)
        
Buckethead
Monsters and Robots (1999 )

Fearless Flying Frog Brigade
Live Frogs Set 1 (2001)
Live Frogs Set 2 (2001)
Purple Onion (2003)

Oysterhead
The Grand Pecking Order (2002)

Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie
Brains
The Big Eyeball in the Sky (2006 )
SIDE PROJECT ALBUMS
Blind Illusion
The Sane Asylum (1988)

Primus
Sausage: Demo  (1988)
Sucking Songs: Demo  (1989)
Suck on This: Live  (1990)
Frizzle Fry  (1991)
Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1992) Miscellaneous
Debris: EP  
(1993)
Pork Soda (1994)
Tales from the Punchbowl  (1995)
Brown Album  (1998)
Rhinoplasty: EP (1999)
Antipop ( 2001)
Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People (2004)
They Can't All Be Zingers (2008)
2010 Rehearsal:EP (2011)  
Green Naugahyde (2012)   

Solo
Of Whales and Woe (2006)            
Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo (soundtrack)
(2009)
Of Fungi and Foe (2010)      
STUDIO ALBUMS
Les now lives near Occidental in Sonoma County, California with his wife, Chaney, ,
his son, Cage Oliver and his daughter, Lena Tallulah. His home is called "Rancho
Relaxo", named after a Simpsons' episode where Marge gets sent to a spa of the
same name. He now records most of his music in his home studio. For more on Les,
visit his
official website. For more on Primus, including their current tour schedule,
visit the
Primus website.