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

Photo courtesy of Carl Radle Com Photo courtesy of Carl Radle Com

Photo courtesy of Carl Radle Com

By Thomas Semioli

Carl Dean Radle’s bass motifs as waxed during his decade long tenure with Eric Clapton – including Derek & The Dominos, were soooooo essential that if you were to play any of these compositions without rendering his lines verbatim – or damn near close – the song sounds wrong!

Witness Nathan East, Dave Bronze, and Willie Weeks, three first-call bassists who have followed Radle in Slowhand’s ensembles over the years follow suite.

From the late 1960s until his untimely passing in 1980 bassist Carl Radle was seemingly everywhere. A melodic / pocket master with a foundation steeped in rhythm & blues, Carl was a central figure in Leon Russell’s famed Oklahoma posse which also featured the drummer Jamie Oldaker, keyboardist Dick Sims, and guitarist George Terry.

Radle’s jaw-dropping resume of record and live credits spans Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Delaney & Bonnie, Derek & the Dominoes, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, The Concert for Bangladesh (with Klaus Voorman), Dr. John, Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Joe Cocker, 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.

Dig Carl with Delaney & Bonnie & George & Eric “Comin’ Home” https://youtu.be/aazChqk4U-c

Dig Carl and George “You”  https://youtu.be/3xnTWee4eAI

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.

Dig Carl and Rita “Superstar” https://youtu.be/e4Xi1I78Kms

Dig Carl and Leon “Stranger in a Strange Land” live https://youtu.be/Hjy7RAu8TJ4

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

Courtesy of Carl Radle Com - Courtesy of Carl Radle Com -

Courtesy of Carl Radle Com –

Dig Carl from Mad Dogs “Delta Lady” https://youtu.be/uIz8n4fprxw

Courtesy of Carl Radle Com - That’s Carl’s daughter with his Alembic Courtesy of Carl Radle Com - That’s Carl’s daughter with his Alembic

Courtesy of Carl Radle Com – That’s Carl’s daughter with his Alembic

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

derek ddd.jpeg derek ddd.jpeg

Dig Carl’s melodic passage on the chorus “Bell Bottom Blues” https://youtu.be/FclW0go4Cfc

Tethering the collective genius of Bobby Whitlock, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and Jim Gordon; Carl’s work exemplifies harmonic, rhythmic, and tonal virtuosity.

Radle Derek Gatefold.jpeg Radle Derek Gatefold.jpeg

Dig Carl with Derek and the Dominos “Got to Get Better” https://youtu.be/ywdU0C2GH2o

Photo courtesy of Carl Radle Com - Derek and the Dominoes Photo courtesy of Carl Radle Com - Derek and the Dominoes

Photo courtesy of Carl Radle Com – Derek and the Dominoes

Huffington Post / Tom Semioli : Carl Radle: Eleven Bass Players Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame https://bit.ly/38WUMh2

Carl and Eric with Delaney & Bonnie - Courtesy of Carl Radle Com Carl and Eric with Delaney & Bonnie - Courtesy of Carl Radle Com

Carl and Eric with Delaney & Bonnie – Courtesy of Carl Radle Com

Carl with a MusicMan, purchased for him by Eric Clapton - courtesy of Carl Radle Com Carl with a MusicMan, purchased for him by Eric Clapton - courtesy of Carl Radle Com

Carl with a MusicMan, purchased for him by Eric Clapton – courtesy of Carl Radle Com

Carl’s P bass with a “waddafoam” - courtesy of Carl Radle Com Carl’s P bass with a “waddafoam” - courtesy of Carl Radle Com

Carl’s P bass with a “waddafoam” – courtesy of Carl Radle Com

Dig Carl with Eric “Motherless Children” https://youtu.be/9EZlmqWmcqw