Toppa Top 10: Reggae’s Greatest Bassists

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 +1 +2 +3

Words by Natalie Weiner and Martei Korley, Photo by Martei Korley—


“I decided to play the bass…because the drum, it is the heartbeat, and the bass, it is the backbone,” the Wailers’ Aston “Family Man” Barrett said recently. “If the drummer is not right, the music is gonna have a bad heart. And if the bass is not right, the music is gonna have a bad back.” Quite simply, without the bass, there is no reggae. On that note—literally—we’re closing our our trilogy of lists spotlighting reggae’s most important musicians—check out the toppa top guitarists here, and count down the don dadas of reggae drums here—with the genre’s baddest bassists.

Click here to start the list.

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  • Mrquick

    Clinton Fearon should be in there, for one

    there is a couple of Studio One guys that have been forgotten, Bagga Walker in particular

  • Cepheus

    Ron Benjamin (Midnite Band): Honorable Mention

  • Andy Bassford

    no Brian Atkinson? Feh.

  • Selectress Reason

    Leroy Sibbles is an honorable mention, Dennis Bovell is not mentioned, and Derrick Barnett is described as “best living bassist”? Obviously some misguided NY politics as play here. (Derrick should be nowhere on this list – ask any serious reggae head.)

  • DJ Sticky

    For sure!!! I have a couple new riddims with Clinton Fearon on bass, Squidly Cole on drums and Chinna Smith on guitar.. Big things coming soon from Sick Donkey Records

  • Junior Rodigan

    The UK’s DENIS BOVELL plus LEROY MAFIA of MAFIA & FLUXY too … also NY’s Raffael Allen and Computer Paul Henton …….. next time just do a top 20 and make things a lot easier 🙂 … Respect

  • Audley Mclean

    What happen to Brian Atkinson? he arguable laid down most of studio one best bass lines, cuz although Sibbles played much of studio one bass tracks, it was Atkinson who played most of the basslines on group led by Sibbles ”vocally”, the iconic Heptones on top Album, and other studio one greats at the time, Mr Clement ”Coxon” Dodd use to call him ”Bassie” what does that tell us, plus he ”Atkinson” use to play bass for the crack Lynn Taitte and the jets assemble, and the first reggae million seller ”Poor mi Israelites” by Desmond Dekker, I hate when people does not get their full honors.