Jet Harris was Britain’s first bass guitar player, the first to own a Fender Precision, and its first rock’n’roll hellraiser too

by GuitarDomain

“If it wasn’t for Jet Harris,” Paul McCartney once said, “I would never have picked up a bass guitar.” A founder member of The Shadows, and a solo star for a short period in the 60s, Jet Harris was the inspiration for an entire generation of British bass players, including McCartney, John Paul Jones and Lemmy. “Jet Harris was very innovative for his time, given the band he was in,” said Lemmy. “He gave me the idea that the bass player didn’t have to stand at the back.” 

Blessed with good looks, a moody persona, a chip on his shoulder and a monkey on his back, he was Britain’s first rock’n’roll bad boy and (if you were standing far enough away) the coolest guy around. Jet was the first pro bass guitarist in the country and certainly one of the finest, first in one of the UK’s most influential bands – The Shadows – and then as a solo hitmaker who played the first Fender VI Bass to arrive on UK shores. His influence on British bass playing was so great that in 2010 Fender presented him with an award for effectively launching the bass guitar in the early 60s. But alcohol-fuelled bad behaviour, gossip page scandals – including singer Cliff Richard’s affair with his wife – and a near-fatal car accident conspired to derail his career. 

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