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Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Top Ten Bassists of All Time

Watch clips from the winners, including Flea, John Entwistle, Cliff Burton and Victor Wooten

Flea, bassits, best of all time, readers choice

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Watch clips from the winners, including Flea, John Entwistle, Cliff Burton and Victor Wooten

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4. Geddy Lee

If Geddy Lee's only role in Rush was to play the bass he'd be unbelievably accomplished. The fact that he does it while singing and playing keyboards proves that the man is almost a freak of nature. Few singers in the history of rock could have handled this triple duty.  The group has occasionally flirted with the idea of adding a fourth member to their stage show to ease Lee's load, but they always decide that fans only want to see the three members of Rush onstage. He manages it all by playing bass pedals during his keyboard parts. The band is currently performing their 1980 LP Moving Pictures on a world tour.

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3. Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney gets so much attention for his brilliant songwriting in The Beatles that his stunning bass playing abilities are often overlooked. But listen to any Beatles songs and focus on his deeply melodic, flawless bass parts. He took on the role reluctantly after original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe left the group and nobody else wanted to take over his instrument. He soon mastered it, but also proved adept at guitar and drums – as he proved when Ringo Starr briefly quit during the making of 1968's The White Album and Paul took his place behind the kit in the studio with great ease.

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2. Flea

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea was originally inspired by bassists in the early 1980s Los Angeles punk scene, but when he got into Bootsy Collins in the mid-Eighties and tried out his "slap" style he found a signature sound. Over the years he's adopted more of a melodic touch, but he frequently funks it up like the Flea of old. In 2009 he joined forces with Thom Yorke in the supergroup Atoms for Peace, but he's currently finishing up the next Red Hot Chili Peppers album and planning a world tour.

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1. John Entwistle

The clear winner in our poll was John Entwistle of The Who. Known as both Ox and Thunderfingers, Entwistle was trained on the piano and French horn before switching to the bass. He played it like a lead instrument, creating a powerful, booming sound that often overshadowed Pete Townshend's guitar playing. His solo on "My Generation" is probably the most famous bass solo in rock history. The Who have carried on since his sudden death in 2002, but their music has lacked Entwistle's thunder and been considerably weaker as a result.

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