Berklee Welcomes Carol Kaye for BassDayze

Toni Ballard
October 18, 2000
Carol in studio, circa 1974
Photo by David Zaworski, editor Down Beat magazine

On Monday, October 23, 2000, Berklee College of Music will welcome Visiting Artist Carol Kaye, legendary studio bassist, for the Bass Department's week-long BassDayze. Kaye is the most recorded bassist of all time, with 10,000 sessions spanning four decades. Her discography includes the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and Pet Sounds album, "The Way We Were," "Help Me Rhonda," "Love Child," "Wichita Lineman," "Homeward Bound," and numerous movie and television soundtracks.

Kaye will discuss her remarkable career in a Women in Music lecture from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., followed by an electric bass clinic from 3:00 to 4:30 in the David Friend Recital Hall, 921 Boylston Street, Boston. Both afternoon events are free and open to the public.

On Monday evening at 8:15 p.m., the Bass Department faculty will present a concert honoring Carol Kaye at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass. Ave. Tickets, which are $4.00 for the general public, $1.00 for seniors, are available at the Performance Center Box Office, (617) 747-2261.

It would be impossible to find someone who has not heard at least one of the hits Carol Kaye recorded on bass or guitar. Besides recordings with Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Phil Spector, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Andy Williams, The Lettermen, Tina Turner, Herb Alpert, The Supremes, and The Monkees, Kaye's bass can be heard on themes for the TV shows M.A.S.H., Mission Impossible, Hawaii 5-0, The Brady Bunch, Ironside, The Addams Family, Kojak, Cannon, and The Bill Cosby Show, as well as movie soundtracks for The Thomas Crown Affair, Pawnbroker, Plaza Suite, Shaft, and Airport. Kaye also performed on the Academy Awards and Motown Specials, and with Lena Horne, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and so many more.

For her pioneering work as a woman making hit records in the studios, and for her creativity and excellence as a musician, Carol Kaye was recently honored with the 2000 Touchstone Award presented by jazz bassist Ron Carter and "David Letterman" bassist Will Lee.

Kaye started learning to play the guitar at age 13 and within a few months (in 1949) was a professional musician and teacher, playing bebop jazz guitar in LA nightclubs with the some of the best jazz artists in the late '50s. Then, in 1957, legendary producer Bumps Blackwell introduced her to session work. Her first studio date was with Sam Cooke. "I can't remember the song," Kaye recalls, "but it was a hit."

The success of this first Kaye session propelled her into a full schedule of studio work where she played guitar on such hits as Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" and the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." By accident, Kaye also became a studio bassist after almost five years as a popular LA studio guitarist. "I was on a session at Capitol Records in late 1963, and someone didn't show up, so they put me on electric bass." She quickly became the first-call bassist with all the record companies and is, to this day, the most-recorded bassist of all time.

Among the hit records Kaye played on as a bassist were Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright," Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her," Frank and Nancy Sinatra's "Something Stupid," Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High," Dobie Gray's "In Crowd," Lou Rawls' "Natural Man," and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and "Pet Sounds" album, to name just a few.

Kaye has worked hard to pass on her knowledge to other players. She has released 27 long-selling bass educational tutorial books, tapes, and video courses, has given seminars for decades, and also has her own commercial CDs on the market. Today she still records on selected sessions and performs live with the Jazz Trio "Thumbs Up" and singer Maxine Weldon.

Carol Kaye is the resident bass educator at the prestigious Henry Mancini Institute at UCLA, also teaches privately, and currently pens a column in "Bassics" magazine and writes periodically for "Mix Magazine," "Downbeat," and others. Her website, with its message board, is one of the most popular music-related sites.