larry graham

Larry Graham–legendary groove master for Sly and the Family Stone and pioneer of electric slap bass–recounts the birth of "thumpin'' and pluckin''" as well as his new Graham Central Station album, Raise Up, which features guests like Prince and Raphael Saadiq on 13 boot-shaking tunes.

Photo by Erich Francois

“When I hear other bass players playing like me,” says Larry Graham—the funk god who invented and popularized the electric-bass slapping-and-popping technique with Sly and the Family Stone in the late 1960s—“I just think, ‘There’s another one of my children!’”

That’s a lot of kids. The technique— heard in megahits such as “I Want to Take You Higher” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”—won Graham a page in music history and went on to become a cornerstone technique for players from Stanley Clarke to Bootsy Collins, Marcus Miller, Les Claypool, Flea, Doug Wimbish, and Victor Wooten, each of whom has spawned his own fanatical following, thus exponentially increasing Graham’s influence. Indeed, although Graham prefers to call the technique “thumpin’ and pluckin’,” it’s no overstatement to say that his playing has impacted the world of electric bass with the same force and universality that Jimi Hendrix’s did for the electric guitar.

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