Carol Kaye (The Wrecking Crew)

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“The Fender bass player Carol Kaye…could do anything and leave the men in the dust…” Quincy Jones


“Carol, you’re the greatest bass player in the world…” Brian Wilson


She is Paul McCartney’s favorite bass player…


She was the primary anchor of “The Wrecking Crew” – a hitherto anonymous group of L.A. session musicians responsible for the instrumentation on thousands of recordings spanning pop records to television and film soundtracks.


If you lived in the 20th Century or listen to popular music in general, you’ve heard Carol Kaye on electric bass. By her own estimate, she has appeared on over 10,000 recordings in a six-decade (and counting as of 2020) career. I can’t imagine how many times she’s been sampled. To my ears, it’s impossible to categorize Carol with regard to style and tone as her bass artistry is purely chameleonic: Ms. Kaye assumes her role in any given musical situation with uncanny expertise.


She started out professionally as a be-bop guitarist in the late 1940s, working clubs in Los Angeles. In 1957 Carol broke into the studio scene, waxing sides with Sam Cook and other artists in Hollywood. Then one day in 1963, the “Fender” bassist failed to show up for a Capitol Records session date, and Carol took up the instrument and the rest, as they say is history….


In her 1960s heyday Carol’s choice of tools were a Fender Precision with flatwound strings and a plectrum which blended perfectly on seminal records by the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, The Righteous Bros., Johnny Mathis, Nancy Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Glen Campbell, Lou Rawls, Jan & Dean, Henry Mancini, The Lettermen, Paul Revere & Raiders, The Monkees, Sonny & Cher, Chris Montez, Andy Williams, Quincy Jones, Joe Cocker, Ike &Tina Turner, Mel Torme, Bobby Darin, Frank Zappa, Wayne Newton, Herb Alpert, Don Ho, Al Martino… her resume is exhaustive.


An educator, clinician, prolific author (Electric Bass Lines series, among others) , and bona fide pioneer of the electric bass, Carol Kaye’s sight-reading instructional materials are essential for all serious musos regardless of their chosen instrument! Do your homework at


Carol Kaye Sound & Vision

Beach Boys “Good Vibrations”

Beach Boys “Sloop John B”

Nancy Sinatra “These Boots Are Made for Walkin”

Glenn Campbell “Wichita Linemen”

Joe Cocker “Feelin’ Alright”

Babs Streisand “The Way We Were”