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MEET CAROL KAYE, the genius musician behind the world’s favourite basslines

Who knew?

She’s played on over 10,000 songs and had a hand in some of rock history’s most celebrated hits: she’s Carol Kaye, one of the greatest bass players in the world.

Pick a seminal record at random, scan the credits, and there she is: “Bass: Carol Kaye”. Between her 1957 studio debut and her 70s burnout, Kaye became, quite simply, the most recorded bassist in history, her sprawling session resume taking in more than 10,000 tracks, most of them stone-cold classics.

“How many people,” she reminded one interviewer, “can go home and say: ‘I played with Frank Sinatra today,” or ‘We cut a cool track for the Beach Boys this afternoon.’ Not many, I imagine.”

Born into a hardscrabble Washington family in 1935, domestic violence was commonplace, and one of her earliest revelations was that “the only thing that stopped the fights was music”. By 1954, having persuaded her abused mother to leave her abusive father, Kaye was using her precocious guitar skills to keep them both afloat, earning money in the big bands and jazz clubs of LA. If you could play, she remembered, you survived.  FOR MORE

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