Carl Radle (Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell)

By Thomas Semioli


If you had to choose a role model of a classic rock bassist …look no further than this cat!


Huffington Post / Tom Semioli : Carl Radle: Eleven Bass Players Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


He was the consummate sideman who came to prominence on seminal sides and concert performances with Derek & The Dominoes, George Harrison, Delaney & Bonnie, Eric Clapton, Leon Russel, and Joe Cocker. Bassist Carl Dean Radle’s motifs are so essential to the compositions that he waxed with those aforementioned rock icons;  that if you were to play the songs without rendering his lines (near) verbatim – the tune sounds… wrong!


Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and migrating to Los Angles in the 1960s, Radle’s association with fellow Tulsan Leon Russell, then a prominent member of the Wrecking Crew, afforded Carl entry into the elite sessions circles.


Radle’s jaw-dropping resume also spans Gary Lewis & The Playboys,  The Concert for Bangladesh (with Klaus Voorman), Dr. John, Dave Mason, J.J. Cale, Buddy Guy, Rita Coolidge, John Lee Hooker, King Curtis, Bobby Whitlock, Art Garfunkel, Donovan, and Bob Dylan, to cite a very select few.


Carl’s weapons of choice included a ’65 sunburst Fender Precision with a blocked and bound neck, ’68 blonde Fender Telecaster bass with a single coil Telecaster pickup and a split-coil Precision pickup, MusicMan Stingray, and a ’75 Alembic.  


Radle’s fluid lines are a study in rhythm and space. His meld of staccato phrasing,  sustained notes, and unadorned countermelodies sounds deceptively effortless – which further exemplifies Carl’s mastery.


Among Carl’s finest recordings include his work with drummer Jim Keltner as captured on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen (1970).


To my ears, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970) represents Carl’s most enduring recorded work and stands as a definitive example of the supportive role of the bass in a rock guitar-based setting.



Carl Radle Sound & Vision…


Derek and the Dominos


“Got to Get Better”


“Bell Bottom Blues”


“I Looked Away”




Eric Clapton:


“Let It Rain”


“Motherless Children”


“Let It Grow”


Delaney & Bonnie & George & Eric “Comin’ Home”


George Harrison “You”


Rita Coolidge “Superstar”


Leon Russell “Stranger in a Strange Land” live


Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen


“Delta Lady”


“Darling Be Home Soon”


“Space Captain”