Published On: Tue, Mar 3rd, 2009

Jet Harris Bass Tabs and Techniques

Learn to play electric bass like Jet Harris from the Shadows – lessons in the techniques that made Apache and FBI such classics – with tab and chords

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Published On: Tue, Mar 3rd, 2009

Jet Harris Bass Tabs and Techniques

Learn to play electric bass like Jet Harris from the Shadows – lessons in the techniques that made Apache and FBI such classics – with tab and chords

Jet Harris is a major figure in the development and popularity of the electric bass in this country. In the ’50s, good basses were hard to get hold of, and effective amps even harder: despite all these barriers, Harris was the first man in Britain to play electric bass and was both a founder member and the man responsible for christening the band he shared with guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch, The Shadows.
Born Terence Harris in Kingsbury, London on 6th July 1939, he was christened ‘Jet’ by his friends because he was one of the fastest runners at his school. Harris became fascinated by the bass after hearing Winifred Atwell’s Left Hand Boogie in 1952 and, Fender Precision in hand, played with various bands from 1956-’58, garnering a reputation as an outstanding bassist. In 1958 he was asked to join the backing band of a singer named Cliff Richard, and it was here that he met Welch and Marvin. After being served with an injunction by an American group, their band, The Drifters, changed their name to The Shadows.
Harris had massive success with The Shadows, playing bass on classics such as Apache and FBI. He quit in 1962 to pursue a solo career and initially had success with Besame Mucho with further hits following from his partnership with drummer Tony Meehan in 1963. All of this nearly came to a halt late that year when Harris was involved in a serious car crash, sustaining life-threatening head injuries. Although he returned to music after a long convalescence, Harris wasn’t able to recreate his previous success and commenced a career as a professional photographer in the ’70s. He has been active in music since the late ’80s, receiving a lifetime achievement award from Fender in 1998. He continues to write and record to this day.
Harris was a superb, self-taught bassist with fantastic technical ability and an ear for the unusual within the context of pop music in the early ’60s. We’re concentrating on Harris’ work with The Shadows in 1961 and 62 (mainly from CD 1 of the 50 Golden Greats collection) and his basslines are littered with the sort of passing dissonances and imaginative use of scalar runs you wouldn’t associate with either the style or the band. Harris certainly influenced the likes of Paul McCartney and, given the regard with which McCartney’s playing is held, that’s a recommendation of the highest order.

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