Even if you’ve never heard Carol Kaye’s name, chances are you’ve heard her bass. One of the most prolific bass guitarists in history, session musician Carol Kaye has played on approximately 10,000 recordings, including hit singles from the likes of The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, The Monkees, Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner, Sonny & Cher, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Nancy Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. And on movie and TV soundtracks like Duel, The Streets of San Francisco, Mission: Impossible, M*A*S*H, Get Smart, Hogan’s Heroes, The Love Boat, Wonder Woman, and the Cosby Show. Here’s a recent clip of Carol talking (and plucking) about her fifty-five year career.
Here’s Carol chatting a bit about two of her best known bass lines, The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” and “California Girls.”
At the time, Carol’s contributions to popular music went largely unnoticed, with credit going to the stars rather than the “Wrecking Crew” of session players who actually played on the albums. Regardless, The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson once described Carol as “the greatest damn bass player in the world.” Not bad for a girl from Everett, Washington.
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