My Stanley Clarke interview runs today at PopMatters.
Bringing the Bass Up Front: An Interview with Stanley Clarke
By Jennifer Kelly 24 May 2012
It’s 1975. Stanley Clarke, the bass player for Return to Forever, has just released his second solo album Journey To Love. The single “Silly Putty” has begun climbing up the pop charts. He and his band are playing a sold-out concert in Indiana. The reception is wildly enthusiastic. But later, as Clarke heads backstage, he runs into a promoter, shaking his head, profoundly unsettled by the idea of a bass player writing songs, leading a band and headlining at a large rock arena. “He just couldn’t believe it,” says Clarke. “To have the bass player standing out in front of the band and the guitar player in back and the keyboard player over there and the horn players over on the side ... to have me, the bass player, talking to the audience and playing and laughing and all crazy, it was weird to this guy. No singer, and the place was packed. Something was wrong.”
Clarke laughs at the memory, half a lifetime past the days when a bass player as band leader was a radical idea. “At that point, I just recognized this was not fashionable, but I kept doing it and it started something,” he says. “Going on stage as a bass player is a total natural thing now. But then, for the bass player to play shows and release an album, it was a no no.”