Virtually every style of music relies on a bass guitar as the primary bass instrument in the rhythm section of the band. The bass looks a lot like a standard electric guitar, only it has a longer neck and can have between four and eight strings.

The bass is plugged into an amplifier just like an electric guitar, and even though many people probably don’t realize it, most are quite familiar with the sound a bass makes. It is a sound you might not notice as you hear it, but you’d definitely realize something was missing if it was gone.

Here’s a list of some famous bass players you’ve probably heard before.


Flea is the stage name of the bass player for the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. His real name is Michael Peter Balzary, and his distinctive bass playing is one of the things that make the Chili Pepper’s music so recognizable.

You might also hear Flea’s bass playing to a lesser degree for bands like Fear, Jane’s Addiction and Atoms for Peace.

Michael Anthony

Any hardcore Van Halen fan will know Michael Anthony by name, but even casual listeners have certainly heard his work. Aside from just playing bass, he is also known for having a huge collection of custom bass guitars, some of which he was fond of bringing onstage with Van Halen.

Michael Anthony’s given name is Michael Anthony Sobolewski.

John Entwistle

Many consider John Entwistle among the greatest bass players that ever lived, for his work in the band The Who. Entwistle passed away in 2002, and although he played other instruments and in other bands, it is his work as a bass player in The Who for which he’ll be most remembered.

James Jamerson

Although not actually famous by typical famous standards, James Jamerson may be the most successful bass player that ever lived. Jamerson was a freelance bassist and never actually joined a band, but he did play in more than 30 number one songs, mostly in the Motown genre back in the 1960s.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney, or Sir Paul McCartney as the case may be, might not be famous just for playing bass guitar, but he’s certainly a famous bass player. As a member of the Beatles, then the band Wings with his wife Linda, virtually everyone on the planet knows the name Paul McCartney.

Don’t see your favorite on here? Look up the members of the band you listen to most and you’ll most likely find a solid bassist keeping the rhythm.

Riley Gladstone is a freelance writer who loves to write anything about music. She has written for music websites such as Long & McQuade and many others.