Today, the legendary session bass player Carol Kaye is 80 years old. In the 1950s, she was a bebop jazz guitarist — working a lot in Los Angeles. But in 1957, she just happened to start working in the studio on the first Sam Cooke album. The following year, she created that great guitar part for Ritchie Valens’ hit “La Bamba.” It actually sounds a lot like a bass part, so it isn’t surprising that she went on to be known primarily as a bass player.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of the bass and the generally poor sound quality of YouTube videos, it is hard to find a song to highlight her. Although if you want, you can check out this amazing video of Kaye at 65 years old playing with Steve Bailey and Victor Wooten jamming at a National Association of Music Merchants meeting. The music isn’t that interesting, but it is amazing to hear all these musical titans playing together. She still has it.
Here she is playing bass on Joe Cocker’s version of “Feelin’ Alright”: