GLOBAL BASS SPECIAL FEATURE:
One of Rock's most legendary bassists...
Long before the great technical players of today there was a young man who stood alone at a precipice...
It is the latter years of the 1960's, in the fields of R & B, in Jazz, in fact in all the higher forms of
Contemporary music in the 20th Century, room had been carved out for bass players, a role had been defined and some small space set aside for a polite solo here or there.
But in Rock `n Roll, there were very few heroes, no visionaries had yet stepped forward to clear a path to the future. The closest thing at the time was the young Jack Bruce of Cream, lacing humorously convoluted, heavily interwoven lines around the chords set out by his guitarist counterpart Eric Clapton. But that was pretty well it.
So what do you do when you are sitting at the edge of this cliff, with a head full of creative ideas about what bass could do, and no road map? You are one fourth of what is quite likely The First Progressive Rock Group, but you have no one to show you the way. If any ground is to be broken, it is you alone that will have to break it.
Your first single, a major rework of The Supreme’s ‘You Keep Me Hangin' On’, holds it’s own on the charts for quite a while, you’ve shaken a lot of people up and you have the rock worlds attention now.
Over the next few albums the songs just get heavier, more dense and lusher still. The complete rewrites of other artists songs like The Beatle’s ‘Ticket to Ride’ and ‘Elenor Rigby’, Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’, Sonny Bono’s ‘Bang Bang’ and many others, infuse whole new emotional weight into the songs, taking them from pop commercialism into a darker and charged OtherWorld.
All the while your reputation as a player begins to grow. People are talking about this young bassist that doesn’t do it like other people ‘do it’. At live gigs a song begins to develop, a jam song, a break song, that showcases the talents of all four members of the band, but people are talking about this young bass player that plays his bass guitar like he is trying to tear it apart while simultaneously making love to it.
This love/lust relationship is producing some of the most unusual bass sounds people have ever heard. Eventually this Break Song makes it onto an album ironically called Near the Beginning. Ironic, because it really was pretty well ‘Near the End’ for the band by that time…
Thousands of bass players across the world listened to this album however, either learning as many of the notes as they could decipher or a least letting the whirlwind of sound etch itself into their musical memories. What Tim had done, even before Chris Squire, John Entwistle or Stanley Clarke had done, was give us a glimpse of a New World Possible for bass players.
Billy Sheehan, soon to be one of our Cover Stories’, said in Bass Player Magazine that “Tim was my biggest influence. He’s also one of the first and best in many categories. The first Vanilla Fudge album (Vanilla Fudge 1967) was one of the biggest bass breakthroughs of all time.”
This is an update on a man that took stock of what it meant to be a bass player in the late `60’s, found it lacking and decided to leap to the next level. All of us are indebted to the visionary courage of people such as Tim
Bogert. He truly was one of the first Rock `n Roll Bass Heroes.
Recently, surrounded by his peers, Tim was inducted into the Hollywood Rock Wall of Fame. Ever modest, he says of that day that he went home with his face hurting from smiling all the time.
bassists at the cement: Tony Levin, Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins, Stanley
Clarke, Tim Bogert
His voice is so calm and sedate, somehow you expect the man who has done so many things over all these years to come screaming across the phone lines. Instead we encounter a calm soul.
Tim Bogert: Oh, it was a long time ago.
Global Bass: Really, has it been quiet now for a while?
Tim: In my life? Really, up until the past couple of years, but it’s all started to pop loose again. I’ve led a very quiet life for a long time.
GB: On purpose?
Tim: Yeah, pretty much. For my own sake, I just like it better that way.
GB: This ‘popping loose again’, is this of your own making?
Tim: No, I just fell into a situation, I guess it was in `98 that Vinny Martell from the old Vanilla Fudge band called and asked me if I would like to do a week in Japan. I though, “Yeah, that’d be fun!”. So I did.
GB: What was the group to be called?
Tim: That was with Vanilla Fudge actually.
GB: That recently?! Was it you, Vinny and the other guys as well?
Tim: Me, Carmine (Appice) and Vinny. Mark Stein didn’t want to do it, so we got another guy to do it called Bill Pascalli. We had a wonderful time, and that’s where I met Char and that’s how CBA came about. And through my involvement with Carmine that’s how the new thing with Rick Derringer came about. So I’ve fallen into a couple of things.
Editor’s Note: Over the years, Tim has worked with Carmine Appice and a series of guitarists, notably releasing albums like Beck,
Bogert and Appice (Jeff Beck, of course). CBA included Char, Appice and Bogert. Soon to be released is another collaboration with Rick Derringer called DBA.
Tim: It was lovely, because I was kinda retired.
GB: A lot of bass players take you very seriously, citing you as a major influence. Do you have to struggle to not have them put you on a pedestal?
Tim: I don’t! (Laughs) It doesn’t happen in my life at all. I pretty much live alone here in Simi Valley in California. I just kinda hang out. I live in a small town, no one knows me, no one cares. Which is fine.
GB: You still have the motorcycles?
Tim: Yeah, I enjoy them very much. I like to work on the bikes and I like to tour on them. It’s a good time.
GB: Here’s a stupid question for you, right off. Regarding Carmine, is it pronounced ‘apisee’ or ‘apiece’.
Tim: It’s ‘apiece’ now, the family name is pronounced ‘apisee’ but it just got mispronounced wrong so many times and for so long, he just went with the mispronunciation. Literally he got “ ‘Carmine ‘apieced’ ” to death, so he just went with it!
GB: Until this recent flurry of activity, were you playing a lot for your own enjoyment or had you put the bass down?
Tim: I don’t play a whole lot any more, I hadn’t for a while. I quit playing live in about `95. I had been playing at a place called the Musicians Institute, teaching there for 18 years. So I had kept my hand in by playing 3 times a week there, but I left there in `97. So I just don’t play a whole lot anymore.
GB: You’ve moved through 4, 5 and now six string, did you delve into fretless?
Tim: Yeah, I play a six, but no, I don’t play fretless. I’ve fooled with it some, but it wasn’t something I ever really got good at. It’s another regimen.
GB: You broke new ground in bass playing in the late `60’s, early `70’s, and people such as Stanley Clarke did it again around `73. Stanley of course, shook up a lot of bass players with his reworking of the slap technique. Was there a sense amongst yourself and your peers of wanting to ‘keep up’ with changing styles?
Tim: I felt I had to keep up as far as learning the technique, yeah.
GB: Did you also delve into tapping?
Tim: Yeah, I can do some of that too.
GB: You have the respect of one of the more preeminent ‘tappers’ of our time in Billy Sheehan.
Tim: He’s been very kind to me, he really has. I called him up the other day to thank him and told him I owe him a curry dinner, he likes hot Indian food. We occasionally will go out for a dinner, but he can eat far hotter than I can!
GB: With Vanilla Fudge, it seemed there was an ability to instill whole new vistas of emotion in other people’s songs.
Tim: We did very well with that kind of thing.
GB: You released ‘Master’s Brew’, with 5 or 6 songs on it, was it intended to be a sampler of things to come?
Tim: It was supposed to be a complete album, but the deal got cancelled right in the middle of it. It became half a record. That was the reason for it, we got half way through it and the label decided not to continue.
GB: I imagine at the time that was very upsetting.
Tim: At the time it was, sure.
GB: One of the assets of growing a bit older is the ability to roll with what life hands you.
Tim: Maybe it’s that, or maybe I am just jaded to it all. I’ve seen so much, I’ve been so many places, I’ve been disappointed so badly. I don’t know. I tell the fella’s I work with a kind of tongue in cheek story, but it’s true…I’m in it now for the money and the fun. In that order.
Luckily I did well in my investments, and as long as the stock market doesn’t crash, I’m good. I’ve managed to do okay.
GB: You released a learning tape in `87 called Back Stage?
Tim: Yeah, and I’ve got four others on Warner Brothers, released in `95. Two vocal tapes and three bass tapes. Two beginners and one advanced.
GB: Are you still endorsing MTD basses?
Tim: Sure do, and I still endorse SWR amps as well.
GB: Why MTD basses in particular?
Tim: Back in the `80’s I ran into a student that had one of my old basses. I offered to buy the
bass but it wasn’t for sale. She said I could introduce you to the man that made it, he’s got a shop down in Hollywood. I went down and I met Michael (Tobias) and he turned out to be a wonderful guy and we’ve been friends ever since. So I’ve been playing his instruments ever since the early `80’s. I went to the four string, then went to the 5 almost immediately. I used to do a jam session every Monday night and one night Andy West came in with a six string. I saw what he could do with it, and I thought, “Yeah, I want the extra string!”
I had gone 5 high, you are supposed to tune it to a C, but I tuned it to a B after 3 weeks, thinking to myself ‘20 million guitar players can’t be wrong!’. It’s easier to do chords on it. So when I went to 6, I added the low B.
GB: When you were in Japan with Vanilla Fudge, you mentioned you discovered Char, your web site describes him as a ‘Jeff Beck for Japan’.
Tim: Oh, he was a wonderful player, he’s as good as Jeff. He definitely is. He sings and he writes well and we had a heck of a time, a really good time. I hope to work with him again this year.
GB: And this new one with Rick (Derringer)?
Tim: Yeah, that should be going out sometime this spring or summer, I think. We don’t have a deal here in America yet, they are striking it now.
GB: Where was the record with Rick recorded?
Tim: Here in L.A.
GB: If there is enough interest, would you tour it?
Tim: Yes, absolutely. It would be fun!
GB: Between BBA (Beck, Bogert and Appice), CBA (Char,
Bogert and Appice) and now DBA with Rick Derringer, what alphabet letter are going for in the future?
Tim: We don’t know yet, but Carmine has this whole concept, he knows an awful lot of players and with any luck there WILL be another, ‘fill in the blank BA’.
Carmine had that idea in Japan one night over dinner. He said “You know, we ought to call up every player that we know in every country and see if they are interested.” Carmine is so busy though, he must have 6 or 7 projects going. Music is his hobby as well as his business, so he’s 24/7.
GB: He doesn’t need ‘the quiet life’?
Tim: No, there is nothing quiet about him! He’s still a 20-year-old at heart. Physically he can handle it, I can’t! He can out and play, go to a dinner, I would be home at 10 o’clock, but he can go out then to a club until 3 or 4 in the morning. He’d be ready to rock the next day, and I would be dead!
GB: Would you mind talking a bit about some of the things on your message board on your site, about some acrimony within the ranks of Vanilla Fudge?
Tim: Oh, there has been a ton of crap going down. What it is, is that when we went to Japan and we asked Mark to go, his reply was, he didn’t want to play in front of anyone who was eating dinner. It was a dinner theatre we were playing. The money was fantastic! I didn’t have a problem with it, but when we replaced him, Mark’s nose got terribly bent out of shape and he put together a document saying that he owned the trademark and that we couldn’t use it. We have him in court now saying that’s not so. We’ll see what happens! That’s still pending.
GB: Do you think that it will be resolved at some point?
Tim: It’s going to be resolved.
GB: Even that the friendship could be resolved at some point?
Tim: I don’t know. He’s been an S.O.B, I don’t really care if he works with us again. I haven’t gotten too involved in the web site part of it, there’s been a lot of discussions going down, and I’ve just kind of kept my nose clean.
GB: You were inducted into Hollywood’s Rock Wall of Fame in `99. I look at the picture, with you standing beside the likes of Stanley Clarke, Tony Levin, Bootsy Collins, and others, you looked so happy.
Tim: Oh, it was such a fun time! I had lockjaw from grinning ear to ear. My jaw hurt the whole next day, it was wonderful! It was terrific.
GB: Since then, in the last year and a half, can you give us an idea of what you have been up to?
Tim: Last Christmas I did the Budakon (in Japan) with Char, which was just wonderful. Then I just lay low until about October, give or take a hair, when the Derringer thing came into fruition and we went into rehearsal for that. So I’ve had kind of a quiet year.
GB: Do you find you still get the itch to just play with anybody, anywhere, just to play?
Tim: I did most of my life until I got kind of tired of the whole scene as it happened to me. So no, I don’t get the ‘itch’ much any more.
GB: If opportunities continue to come into your life, like Char and Rick Derringer, just dropping into your world from time to time, will you continue doing them?
Tim: Absolutely! I couldn’t be happier about that. I can deal with that. After having been a schoolteacher for 18 years, I kinda got used to being in control of a situation. Having things sorta my own way…
GB: Did you enjoy teaching?
Tim: Yeah, very much. It was scary at first. At the time, it was in `79, and things were very lean right about then. I had just come back from Italy and of course when you come back into town you have to reconnect with everybody…I had been gone for a while. That was taking a long time. So I got a call from a fellow who was an old Cactus fan. They were using some of the Cactus stuff in the curriculum for Hard Rock Boogie. He asked if I would come down and do a seminar for a clinic. I said I would be glad to. I called a friend up and said, “What’s a clinic! What do I do? I’ve never been to one”.
So I went down and did it. It seemed to work well and they asked me back a second time. I thought, “Hey, now I know what I’m doing!”. So it went really well that time and they asked me if I would like to do a day and I said I would love to. Steady work, good deal. One day turned into three, and I stayed for 18 years!
It started as a good work opportunity and became a nice career for almost 20 years. I enjoyed a lot of the people I worked with and most of the students I taught. I must have seen 10,000 people! During the large enrollment time at the school, there must have been about 1500 kids a year coming through. That went on for 10 years or more, then it pared down somewhat. I think there is about 500 people left there now. Over the years, it was a lot of folks!
GB: If given the opportunity, would you put a version of Vanilla Fudge together again?
Tim: Absolutely! We are all fine, it’s just that Mark has a problem with it.
GB: With the Vanilla Fudge album, Near the Beginning, one side of the album had something called The Break Song, was that somewhat of a loosely structured jam?
Tim: Break Song had four sections and the sections had intro pieces that then went into keyboard and guitar section that the band would play. Carmine and mine was basically a free-for-all!
GB: So you would play different things every night?
Tim: Yeah, I would play whatever came out through my fingers that night.
GB: So what’s on the album is just one of many versions of the Break Song?
Tim: Yeah, I never played that solo again.
GB: Do other recorded versions exist out there?
Tim: Someplace in a vault, I know they’ve got other versions of it. I know there is a studio version of it, I don’t know how many other versions were recorded, to be honest with you.
GB: The Mystery album, what brought that about?
Tim: There was a reformation going on at the time and Atlantic Records got involved with it. We started to do the project, and it went sour right in the middle of it and the guitar player got fired. He put an injunction on the album and the whole thing went down the tubes.
GB: So there was no tour?
Tim: There was a tour, we toured with Paul Hanson, that was the guitar players name, and I guessed we toured for about 6 weeks.
GB: Is this part of this ‘burned’ bit that made you jaded?
Tim: There’s been a couple few dozen
(laughs) of things and stuff!
Would you say you are an easygoing guy?
Tim: Sometimes, I can be very high
strung and I can be very easy going. It depends if you press a button or not. I am the typical artiste. I can be…
GB: You have been able to walk away from all the crap without a huge pile or self-recrimination, haven’t you?
Tim: The teaching school was a wonderful thing that allowed me to do a slow decent from the heights over an 18-year period. As opposed to crashing to earth like most of us did. It kind of set my head straight and I was allowed to decompress ever so slowly.
I pretty much have it all in perspective, I think, at least it works for me most of the time.
GB: I imagine you must be somewhere in your mid 50’s now?
Tim: I’m 56, I’ll be 57 in August.
GB: Isn’t that remarkable? Not only that you managed to survive that long, but also in the sense that really, ‘how the hell do the years pass so quickly and who would have guessed that we would ever actually end up this age?’
Tim: Ooh, not us, do you remember when over 30 meant ‘death’?
GB: I remember ‘don’t trust anybody over 30’.
Tim: Yeah, don’t trust `em. I haven’t trusted me for 26 years! That could be a real problem!
GB: Do you get to the NAMM shows at all?
Tim: Yes, I usually do, I just usually sit in a booth and pluck away at my Tobias. I won’t be at Nashville, but I do the one in L.A.
Global Bass: You’ve been a good natured interview, lot’s of laughs, lots of good memories, is there anything you would like to say at the end here?
Tim: Thanks everybody for listening all those years, I couldn’t have done it without ya!
When Tim and Carmine release the next part of their musical alphabet soup, DBA, with Rick Derringer, we’ll be sure to get a copy and go over it in a review. You will find Tim’s web site at:
this article in German.