"I'm the Best Bassist in the World": Remembering Jaco Pastorius, one of the most legendary bassists in history

"I'm not an original musician, I'm a thief. As the saying goes, "Good composers don't borrow - they steal!"

Jaco Pastorius - the story of his ascent, his "conquest of the world with a bass" and his tragic finale

Jaco Pastorius - a flamboyant, brilliant, and rather brash bassist who became a legend. His name is not as popular, and often his contributions are overlooked. But if you ask the now iconic bassists who their idol is, the 99% answers will include the name already mentioned.

Pastorius Rewrote the history of the bass and took the role of his instrument to a new level! His unique technique has inspired many of today's famous bassists to pick up a 4-string and just start playing! But this whole story might not have happened if Jacko hadn't broken his hand at the age of 13. He dreamed of becoming a drummerbut due to improper bone fusion he had to get rid of the drum kit. He could have given up the very idea of becoming a musician, but his passion for the stage was in his blood. Thanks to his sharp mind and "the ability to get along with others."he became part of the Weather Reportand then the face of his own solo projects and a studio mate for such icons of those years as Joni Mitchell.

"I'm the best bass player in the world!"

Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

Despite his interest in music as a child, Jacko did not start building a professional career until in 1976 - That's when he became part of the Weather Report. But his entrance into the team is a very comical story in its own right, and it shows us some of the character traits bass icons.

The story goes that after the Weather Report concert, Jacko finally got a meeting with Joe Zawinulombut not to ask for an autograph. Pastorius was quite arrogant, he said:

"You played well, of course. But I expected more..."

Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

The next second, Jacko added:

"But I can be your bass player. I'm the best bass player in the world!"

Needless to say, such a cavalier tone pissed off Zawinul. Instead of inviting him into the group, at first Joe sent the insolent interlocutor very, very far away. But Jacko managed to develop this difficult dialogue, and in the end obtained an invitation to for an audition. In the end, Zawinul was thrilled, and Pastorius was accepted into the team. The founder of Weather Report later recalled that Jacko reminded him of himself:

"He's a cheeky little fella - just like me in my youth!"

Success and Legacy

Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

Above all, Pastorius became famous as Weather Report bassist. Beyond that, however, he has built a successful solo career, and has often been a guest musician for other artists, including Joni Mitchell and Pat Metheny.

Speaking about legacy Jaco, we are talking above all about his unique style, about how he managed to take the role of his instrument to a new level! His playing was experimental in nature. He used a number of tricks and techniques, particularly on his favorite Fender Jazz Bass 1962 release. He was a virtuoso who succeeded in harmonizing Latin American rhythms with rhythm and blues. He went down in music history as best jazz bassistbut his influence has spread to many rockers.

Its distinctive feature was the popularization of fretless electric bass. Pastorius achieved a truly amazing timbre reminiscent of brass sound. He expanded the sound range of the bass guitar, and made it an instrument of "number one.".

From star to outcast

Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

In the '80s, Jacko was at the height of his fame: he recorded a lot and toured the United States and Japan! He had his own band. Word of MouthAnd on the whole, things were going great. But as is often the case, along with fame came difficult addictions.

At first Jacko stubbornly avoided substances, but later became addicted to them and to alcohol. All this led to his unstable and antisocial behavior. Eventually the bassist was diagnosed with bipolar disorderand he spent some time not in the studio, but in a hospital. But it didn't help...

Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

Since the mid-1980s, Jacko's personality changed: he became irritable, nervous, aggressive, scandalous... He behaved in a disgusting way, and soon he went from being a beloved star to outcast. It was not only his career that suffered, but also his health. For a while he lived on the streetI was in the hospital again, and then I was back on the street again...

Tragic finale

Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

His finale was tragic, although with this way of life the chances of him being saved and returning to his usual routine were extremely slim... Jaco Pastorius was gone in 1987: He provoked the club's bouncer, thereby getting into a violent scuffle. Bassist slipped into a coma.He was just a boy, and he never came out of it. He was only 35 years. He left a great legacy and four children.

Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

After his short but incomparably brilliant career and shocking death, music lovers were left wondering what new musical territory this bass geniusif he had not left us so early. Even in more general terms, Jacko's style and work continue in one way or another impact on almost every significant bass player to this day.

"I'll say one thing: I invented the electric bass, and everybody knows it! But I'm not an original musician, I'm a thief. As the saying goes: "Good composers don't borrow - they steal!", Pastorius once declared.

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