The 10 Best Bass Players in the History of Metal

We certainly didn’t rely on an online lottery to draw up this chart even if inevitably we had to make some painful choices to whittle this list down to just ten bassists. Here we go!


Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)

The mind, soul and founder of Iron Maiden, who in 2020 will celebrate 45 years as a band. A true metal icon, not only for bassists, his riffs are unforgettable and studied note by note. His bass has always been the backbone of Maiden’s rhythm from “Running Free” to “Powerslave,” and the list of songs could go on forever.

Cliff Burton (Metallica)

Cliff left us too early but his contribution to Metallica’s first albums remains etched forever in the history of metal. Cliff had an impeccable style and was able to produce powerful but refined bass riffs at the same time. His style was much more varied and nuanced than most metal bass players.

Robert Trujillo (Metallica)

Metallica are the only band able to bring in multiple bassists with very different musical characteristics. Trujillo made himself known before joining Hetfield and Hammett with his funky rhythms in Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies.

John Myung (Dream Theater)

Like all the members of Dream Theater, Myung is a true virtuoso of his instrument. Guitarist John Petrucci once stated that in the days when the two were students at Berklee College of Music, he and Myung would practice at least six hours a day.

Geddy Lee (Rush)

Recognized as one of the greatest bassists ever beyond musical genres and distinctions, he is highly appreciated for having a superlative technique and has contributed to the development of hard rock/progressive style with his intricate bass lines.

John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)

One of the most respected musicians in the world for his unparalleled qualities, he has been a sought-after session musician and arranger since his youth, but we of course remember him most for the years spent with Led Zeppelin as bass and keyboard player.

David Ellefson (Megadeth)

Aside from band leader Save Mustaine, Ellefson is the longest-tentured member of Megadeth. He’s always showed solid technique on his instrument, making important contributions to the band’s songs. Musically, Ellefson learned a lot from Mustaine, taking inspiration from his guitar riffs.

Les Claypool (Primus)

A true musical genius and difficult to pigeonhole into a single genre, Claypool’s style has exerted great influence on the development of nu-metal and alternative metal.

Frank Bello (Anthrax)

If anyone had doubts about the skills of the historic bass player of Anthrax, just spend two minutes and fifty seconds in the company of the song “Got The Time” to dispel any doubts and enjoy Bello’s musical personality.

Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead)

Lemmy as never a very technical bass player but the leader of Motorhead had a really unique vigor, power and verve in hitting the four strings of his instrument that has made him a true icon thanks to his unmistakable voice.

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