They’re the guys in the background. They might not be the first ones that come to mind and they might not be as popular as their band’s guitarist or vocalist but bassists are important to any band. Some double as singers and many contribute greatly to the creative process as songwriters. Bass plays a much larger role in rock than people may realize. It may not stand out as much as the drums, guitars or vocals do but bass is part of the backbone of any musical group and along with the drums make up the all-important rhythm section.
Bassists are essential to any band’s sound. Though they may not get all the attention or credit they deserve many bassists are responsible for making songs sound whole. The deep tone of a bass prevents songs from sounding empty, something that is sometimes overlooked by fans but is key to every group’s sound none the less.
These are the worlds richest bassists.
12. Krist Novoselic — Net Worth: $40 Million
Krist Novoselic became famous as the co-founder of Nirvana along with Kurt Cobain. After Nirvana disbanded in 1994, Novoselic formed Sweet 75 a year after in 1995. The band was short-lived however and Novoselic quickly moved on to another project, Eyes Adrift a year after Sweet 75’s split. Like his previous group, Eyes Adrift only released one album – and it tanked – prompting the band to break up. Outside of music Novoselic has been active in a number of political and social causes and founded JAMPAC, a political action committee dedicated to preserving freedom of expression in music for artists and freedom of choice for consumers.
11. Tony Kanal — Net Worth: $45 Million
Aside from being a bassist, No Doubt’s Tony Kanal has also contributed to the band on saxophone and keyboards. Kanal joined the group in 1987 and after their first hiatus in 2004 he began working as a producer. The same year No Doubt announced their hiatus, Kanal produced three songs for the Adam Sandler comedy 50 First Dates. That same year he produced and co-wrote three songs on No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani’s first solo effort Love. Angel. Music. Baby.. Kanal then went to produce reggae singer Elan Atias’ 2006 debut Together as One as well as Stefani’s second solo effort The Sweet Escape and has gone on to collaborate with several artists including the ska punk group Pepper, Weezer and former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt.
10. Geezer Butler — Net Worth: $65 Million
Geezer Butler has influenced countless bassists spanning a number of generations, and was a key contributor to the unique sound of heavy metal godfathers Black Sabbath. Butler is known to be one of the first bass players to incorporate a wah pedal into his playing as well as being one of the first bassists to tune down to C# tuning. During the Ozzy Osbourne era Butler served as the band’s primary lyricist and was heavily influenced by the works of Aleister Crowley. Butler has also worked with Ozzy Osbourne on his Ozzmosis album, been a member of Heaven & Hell and formed his own project GZR in 1995.
T8. Bill Wyman – Net Worth: $80 Million
Bill Wyman’s career with the Rolling Stones lasted almost thirty years, with him having played on 18 albums between 1962 and 1993. Apart from his contributions to the Stones, Wyman has also had an active solo career. His first solo albums, beginning with his 1974 debut Monkey Grip and continuing with the two following records, were well received by most critics, yet not financially successful. His 1981 single “(Si Si) Je Suis un Rock Star” was his most successful by far peaking at #14 in the United Kingdom. Outside of music Wyman is active in photography, has written seven books selling over 2 million copies and even designed his own metal detector.
T8. John Paul Jones — Net Worth: $80 Million
Led Zeppelin is remembered as one of rock’s great groups, highly influential and comprised of four incredibly talented individuals. Although each member of Zeppelin was incredibly gifted at their respective instrument, John Paul Jones was the group’s secret weapon, excelling at not one but a multitude of different musical instruments. Organ, electric piano, mandolin and guitar among many others, Jones is nothing if not versatile. He could come up with jaw-dropping galloping bass lines like the one heard in “Achilles Last Stand” or add a more subtle vibe as heard with the over-dubbed recorder parts on “Stairway to Heaven.” After Led Zeppelin Jones went on to work with artists such as R.E.M., Peter Gabriel and Paul McCartney, started his own solo career and joined the rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures comprised of himself, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme.
T6. Flea — Net Worth: $115 Million
Flea has been a staple of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound over the years. Whether it be their earlier albums which heavily focused on a funk fusion sound, or their later more commercially successful records that introduced the world to the group’s more melodic works, Flea’s bass playing has become synonymous with the group and many of their songs. His playing style has ranged from traditional punk rock to funk as he was considerably influenced by Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins. In 2009 Flea joined supergroup Atoms for Peace, consisting of Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke, Beck and R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and Brazilian instrumentalist Mauro Refosoco.
T6. John Deacon – Net Worth: $115 Million
At the age of 19 John Deacon became the youngest member of Queen after auditioning for the band at Imperial College London in early 1971. Deacon’s playing style varies from Motown-esque to highly technical walking bass lines. He has contributed acoustic guitar and rhythm guitar on a number of albums as well as keyboards and synthesizers. He has written some of Queen’s greatest hits such as “You’re My Best Friend”, “Back Chat” and “I Want to Break Free”. Deacon officially retired in 1997 and as a result did not perform with Queen during their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, their collaboration with Paul Rodgers, their closing ceremony performance at the 2012 Summer Olympics or the Adam Lambert collaboration.
5. Adam Clayton — Net Worth: $150 Million
U2’s Adam Clayton has made his mark as a bassist, and has crafted some notable baselines on some of U2’s most popular hits including “Mysterious Ways”, “New Years Day” and “Bullet the Blue Sky”. He along with fellow U2 member Larry Mullen Jr. penned the theme song for the 1996 movie Mission: Impossible. Clayton has also been featured on a number of other artists’ tracks throughout his career. He played on Robbie Robertson’s 1987 self-titled album, as well as Sharon Shannon’s self-titled debut and played on U2 producer Daniel Lanois’ 1989 album Acadie.
4. Roger Waters — Net Worth: $270 Million
Roger Waters co-founded Pink Floyd along with singer and guitarist Syd Barrett, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright in 1965. After Barrett’s departure in 1968, Waters became the group’s primary lyricist. While the newly recruited David Gilmour took over the bulk of the work on vocals, Waters managed to contribute every so often. Starting with 1975’s Wish You Were Here Waters began to sing more frequently and by the time Animals came out in 1977 he’d taken the bulk of the singing work from Gilmour who sang on only one track. He wrote and sang most of the songs on the 1979 double album The Wall and left Pink Floyd shortly after. Since then Rogers has lead a successful solo career and his “The Wall Live” tour in which he plays the 1979 album in its entirety is one of the highest grossing tours of all time by a solo artist.
T2. Gene Simmons — Net Worth: $300 Million
Kiss are known for their crazy getups and world-renowned showmanship. Whereas with most bands the bassist just seems to blend into the background and generally keep to themselves, Kiss’s “Demon” aka Gene Simmons is the band’s most popular and well known member. As a member of Kiss, Simmons has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and has been involved in the production of several television shows including the cartoon My Dad the Rock Star, and the reality TV shows Rock School and Gene Simmons Family Jewels. He produced the 1999 film Detroit Rock City and has appeared in a number of films and television series.
T2. Sting — Net Worth: $300 Million
Sting is best known as the singer, songwriter and bassist of the new wave rock band the Police. The group formed in 1977 and were a mix between punk, reggae and new wave music along with heavy jazz influences. Sting released his first solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985 while still a member of the Police. However, the band would break up a year after, followed by Sting’s second solo effort …Nothing Like the Sun a year after that. Sting is highly active in human rights movements and has performed at a number of human rights concerts, the biggest being the Amnesty International galas. He founded the Rainforest Foundation Fund along with his wife and a Kayapo Indian leader, to protect the rainforests and preserve the rights of the indigenous people living there.
1. Paul McCartney — Net Worth: $1.2 Billion
A key member of the Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney crafted some of rock’s most popular songs alongside song writing partner John Lennon while he was a member of the “Fab Four”. With the Beatles McCartney showed his skill as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with memorable contributions such as his piano work on “Let it Be” and “A Day in the Life” and his smooth flowing bass lines on “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “She’s a Woman”. After the Beatles McCartney went on to pursue a solo career, then formed Wings with his wife Linda McCartney. McCartney is highly active in animal rights movements, is a devoted vegan, and is active in anti-landmine and seal hunting movements.