“Being a bass-player is like being a truck driver… you’re paid to arrive on time and safely at your destination!” – Brian Keith “Herbie” Flowers
Just another day on the job? Probably! In a career that has spanned over a half century, Herbie Flowers is not only among the instrument’s preeminent players, and most prolific studio cats – he created two of rock’s most mind-blowing bass passages, all in a successful effort to earn double wages!
With a blue Fender Jazz he purchased from Manny’s in New York City for $79.00, this Isleworth Middlesex protégé helped to establish the electric bass on stage and in the studio by way of his instantly recognizable tone which he augments with a plectrum, coupled with his adventurous phrasing and melodic instinct. On every track Flowers has waxed, he melds his classical and jazz pedigree with a profound love of soul and blues.
An upright / electric and tuba player, Flowers’ resume is a study in 20th Century pop music history: Serge Gainesbourg, Harry Nilsson, Roger Daltrey, Brian Ferry, Henry Mancini (“Pink Panther”), Frank Sinatra, Cat Stevens, Sky, Bing Crosby, Elton John, David Bowie, Melanie, Al Kooper, David Essex, Marc Bolan, and Paul McCartney, along with numerous sides produced by Mickie Most, Richard Perry, Gus Dudgeon, Shel Talmy, and Tony Visconti simply skim the surface of his extraordinary body of work. Flowers also did a stint in the London Symphony Orchestra and has anchored scores of film and television scores and theater performances!
A witty scribe (read his blogs), solo recording artist, composer, university educator, and engaging stage performer – to list Flowers’ pop / classical / jazz / credits would break the internet, so we advise you to explore www.HerbieFlowers.Com if you need to know exactly what he played on, what he wrote, which bands he led, along with humorous anecdotes regarding his childhood, military service, and observations of the human condition!
If it were only for his contributions to Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” and “Rock On” by David Essex – Flowers would still be legend.
Herbie’s repetitive, major 10th interval glissando from the I to the IV chord, doubled with an upper register contrapuntal melody afforded Lou the radio (and career defining) hit he so desperately needed. It’s that rare groove that grabs you in the first few bars.
Once again, Flowers blew minds (and home audio speakers) on David Essex smash hit “Rock On” (1973). Akin to his ingenious plot to earn twice his pay for Lou’s signature song, Herbie double-tracked his part. Significantly detuning the E string which was further enhanced with a wobbly delay effect, Flowers upped his remuneration for the day’s work from £12 to £24! An astonishing passage – it sounds like nothing before it, and nothing has sounded like it since!