Rod Ellicott (Cold Blood, Pointer Sisters)

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By Joe Gagliardo

Around 1970 I heard a revved-up version of Sam & Dave’s “You Got Me Hummin.’  There were two additional noticeable differences—the powerful and soulful voice of a female vocalist, and a driving bass solo.  This was long before the internet, so I immediately went out and bought the LP and found out the voice belonged to Lydia Pense, and the driving bass came from Rod Ellicott.  The band was a powerful horn band out of San Francisco called Cold Blood.  I immediately became a fan of Rod’s bass playing and Cold Blood.

Woody Lingle, a recent Know Your Bass Player subject, also identifies Rod as a significant influence on his playing. Digging into Rod’s playing I came up with a major surprise.  Rod recorded the first Cold Blood LP,
dripping with soul and funk, on a Hofner Beatle Bass run directly to the board, and he played it with a thumb-pick that he held like a flat pick. After the first album, he played with his fingers.  That transition was made easier because Rod had previously played an upright bass before switching to electric bass.

Rod recorded several albums with Cold Blood, and he also played on the Pointer Sisters’ first LP.  Rod and drummer Jim Gordon teamed up to lay down the bottom for the jazz ensemble Bobby and I on their self titled album. Rod also played with moog synthesizer pioneers, Beaver and Krause, on the Grandharva LP.  Since moving to Tulsa, Rod has continued to gig with different bands, playing rock, jazz, blues, R&B, Bluegrass, and
Country …essentially all genres of music.

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Rod’s weapons of choice: Rod started with a ’63 Fender Precision bass, traded it for the Hofner, switched to a Gibson EB-3L, then to a plexiglass Ampeg Dan Armstrong, and back to a Fender Precision bass.

He ran his basses through an Ampeg B15N, before moving to a Standel Combo Dual 15 rig which was replaced by an Acoustic 360 folded horn, which was replaced by a Sunn head driving two Peavey 1×15 cabinets.

Influences: Rod’s parents were musicians and he was exposed to sight reading on keys and violin.  When Rod wasn’t sticking with piano/violin lessons, his Dad told him “learn bass!  You will never be out of

He had his first pro gig on an upright at age 14, and lunged at the opportunity to buy Leo Fender’s perfect marriage of an upright bass and electric guitar.  Rod views bass as an ensemble instrument, to be felt,
as well as heard.  He is a melodic player, listens to all the parts in the song, and looks to play missing parts, some that aren’t necessarily for bass.

He has a long list of favorite bass players, including Paul McCartney, Jaco Pastorius, Peter Cetera, Verdine White, Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), Victor Wooten, Willie Weeks, Esperanza Spalding, Mike King (Level 42) and Jack Casady.

These days you can catch Rod gigging in Tulsa, and you can check out his playing:

Cold Blood-Winterland-1973-Full Concert  Rod’s solo on “Hummin’ at 18:10

Cold Blood “Down to the Bone”

Cold Blood “I Just Want to Make Love to You”

Cold Blood “Valdez in the Country”

Cold Blood “Come Into My Life Again”

Pointer Sisters “River Boulevard”

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