Learn to play electric guitar like Herbie Flowers– lessons in the techniques that made Bowies Rebel Rebel and Walk on the Wild Side such classics – with tab and chords
If the definition of a great session bassist is exemplary time keeping, a highly professional attitude and the ability to deliver the goods in a range of styles from pop to art rock with a large dash of silliness for good measure, then Herbie Flowers is nothing short of a legend.
Born with the Christian names Brian Keith in Isleworth, Middlesex, on the 19th May 1938, Flowers came to a career in music completely by chance. Having signed up for military service in 1955 and quickly discovering it was not for him, Flowers became a bandsman after telling the army careers officer he’d played tuba in school. Due to the inaccuracy of this statement Flowers had to gain some competence in a matter of days, which he did, leading to service in the RAF Central Band. Back in civvies in the early ’60s, Flowers discovered modern jazz and the double bass, purchasing his first and only electric bass, a 1960 Fender Jazz, in New York in 1965. He rapidly became a top-notch session bassist, second only to Led Zeppelin‘s John Paul Jones, with credits including Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones. In 1970 he co-founded Blue Mink, exiting four years later to tour with David Bowie before becoming a member of the final incarnation of T.Rex. Throughout this period he managed to fit in sessions for Elton John, Cat Stevens and Lou Reed, and it’s his bass that adorns Jeff Wayne‘s War Of The Worlds album. In 1979 Flowers co-founded Sky with classical guitarist John Williams, which led to 15 years of touring and recording. During this time he still managed to maintain a staggering session workload and he’s still active today, combining a busy playing schedule with numerous teaching commitments.
In an interview in G&B in October 2006 (Vol 17/8) some of the reasons for his longevity were obvious: ego-free acknowledgement of the value of his work and a great sense of humour, describing himself as ‘a bassist with a silly name’. We hope that his ‘nice puddingy sound’ and classy grooves delivered via that tapewound-strung Fender Jazz continue to be as relevant and vibrant as they have been for the last 40 years.