BASSISTS: Who is the most underrated rock and roll bassist of all time?

Daniel Elder writes ...

I know a lot of people will say John Deacon of Queen, which I hugely agree with. But I would say that Cliff Williams of AC/DC is the most underrated. A lot of people just discard Cliff because his bass lines, they are really simple, generally play the root of the chord and serving the song. But, there is much more to Cliff that people need to understand.

  1. He has a great control and stamina in his picking hand, he can go a nearly a full concert just playing downstrokes. You can hear this in his isolated bass tracks of him playing with AC/DC Live at Donington 1991, which you can hear is mainly played with downstrokes.
  2. He has a great ability to improvise bass lines when playing live to jazz them up and make them more exciteable, again, this can be heard in the isolated bass tracks on YouTube, especially on Shoot To Thrill, there are so many added fills and little imrovised parts.
  3. His bass lines are genius, he wrote his bass lines with the guitars on mind. For example, the song Back in Black’s chords are E5, D5 and A5. Probably the most used chords in rock music. But the thing is, the bass line plays E, DDD, C#C#C#, which makes you think that would be weird as the chords are E, D, A, so why play a C#. Well, the answer is pretty simple. The thing about AC/DC is that Angus and Malcolm would never play full chords, it sounds way too happy, instead they would mainly play power chords, leaving out the major 3rd of the chord. So, they would play E, DDD, AAA as power chords, while Cliff would play a C# on the A, this is because he is filling in on the Major 3rd of the Amaj chord which would be a C#, which gives a really cool effect to the music. There are other examples of the same idea happening in different AC/DC songs.

I highly suggest you go watch a video on YouTube which explains in more detail about what I mention in point 3. And to go and listen to some isolated bass tracks of Cliff Williams.

So, that is why I think that Cliff Williams of AC/DC is the most underrated bassist in rock ’n’ roll.

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