Home > Big Picture > Larry Graham: Accidents of Fortune (Originally Published in iRockJazz)

Larry Graham: Accidents of Fortune (Originally Published in iRockJazz)

Photograph by Matthew Allen

Photograph by Matthew Allen

It’s often said that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. This ideal is mostly applied to the sporting world, but when it comes to Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Larry Graham, his greatness derives from a series of unexpected events. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more synonymous with Bay Area Soul music. His revolutionary thumping and plucking style on bass with Sly and the Family Stone and Graham Central Station is arguably the most influential innovation of the instrument outside of the improvisational mastery of James Jamerson. But believe it or not, Graham was never supposed to be a bass player:


Larry on his signature song, “One in a Million You:”

“So, we’re coming home from the Kingdom Hall one day, my wife and I, and all of a sudden I could hear in my head exactly how the record should sound. It was on a Sunday and the engineer wasn’t available. I didn’t want to lose it, so my wife and I went into the studio I built in the guest house where we used to live in L.A. I said, OK, you take the right hand side of the [mixing] board and show you the moves, and I’ll take the left hand side, and we mixed it ourselves.”

Larry on his bass’ trademark fuzz tone: 

“Because I played guitar first and I was into guitars players, I wanted to know what the bass would sound like with the same pedals the guitar players were using, and that’s how I really came up with the concept of plugging my bass into distortion. That’s that sound you hear on “M’Lady”, “Dance to the Music” and some other songs.

Read the full article at iRockJazz.com:

Categories: Big Picture
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