Friday, December 30, 2011

Fat Friday Feature DOUBLE SHOT: Bill Clements And Francis Rocco Prestia

Friday is the day I draw attention to great bass players and great bass lines.  I was too busy getting my Christmas on to post last Friday, so please enjoy this double shot.

In a tiny, sweltering A-frame all ages club in Chesterfield, Indiana circa 1989, my head was blown apart by Bill Clements.  He was touring at the time with a band called Catharsis - a pretty forgettable band save Bill's performance.  His playing was very busy; but the lines bubbled and peculated, relentlessly pushing the band forward.  Bill had a familiarity with the fingerboard that I had seldom seen.  He worked the whole neck, not just the lower third (like I do) and it never seemed ejaculatory.

Oh - and Bill Clements doesn't have a right hand.  That night, he wore a shiny metal hook on his forearm, almost as an in-your-face-reminder of this fact.*  The one song that I specifically remember - not only because of Bill's stellar performance, but because it was an unlikely song selection for an all ages punk rock venue - was Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy".  Watching Bill's hand span the fingerboard on that Washburn Status bass made me incredibly self conscious about not only my small hands, but my crappy practice ethic.  I left the Flipside club vowing to work harder.

Anyway, it is good to see Bill Clements is still out and about making a go of it.  Check out the clip below from the NAMM 2011 show.  Note the cloth wrapped around the nut, which is used to dampen the strings to prevent unnecessary ringing and string talk.  (When I saw him, he was using an old bandanna for this purpose.)

* - I had read somewhere that Bill really, really doesn't like to draw attention to the fact that he is a  bass player with one arm, wanting to be known instead as just a great bass player.  I'd say well done - he's great no matter what.

Bill's playing reminds me a lot of Rocco Prestia's.  I love the song below - timely lyrics though the song was released in 1975.  The jury's still out on that woman's singing, but the playing is parless.  If you're interested, here's Rocco breaking the bass line down for you.


  1. Matt, thanks for the shout out, great stuff here. Keep writing!!


    1. Glad you found it Bill. Thanks for your amazing playing - I love watching you work. Thanks also for the encouragement on the blog!

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