My Prog Hero: Beth Hart on Primus' Les Claypool

Les Claypool in a field with his bass

“When I was a kid, I was a really huge classical buff and I still am. My mum turned me on to jazz and blues: Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, stuff like that. Then the neighbourhood kids started turning me on to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and when I was about nine or 10, they got me into Rush as well. At that time, Rush were pretty big in America and Moving Pictures had just come out. I fell in love with that record, although my husband [road manager Scott Guetzkow] and my guitar player Jon [Nichols] always laugh at me because they say it’s the worst record of their whole career. It was Geddy Lee’s bass playing that did it for me and to this day, he’s probably my number one favourite bass player.

Beth Hart

Beth Hart
(Image: © Mona Nordoy)

But the band that really pushed me over was Primus – I thought Les Claypool was so ridiculous. I started listening to Sailing The Seas Of Cheese and that’s when I decided to learn how to play some of it on bass. I would have been about 22 or 23 at the time.

All the music I’ve ever been turned on to has been through my brother, my mother or friends so I’m sure that’s how I got into Primus. I would never go to a record shop and I didn’t really listen to the radio – I thought it kinda sucked.

My bass player Bob Marinelli is a wonderful bassist and does a lot of bass lessons with me. I always like to do a couple of lessons every week when we’re on the road so a few days ago, the band and I were hanging out at a barbecue and I just started playing a bunch of Primus on my music machine. Bob said, ‘Jeez, this guy is good!’

Primus are definitely one of my favourite bands; they have such great music and great lyrics, and Les Claypool is so frickin’ wacky in the way he sings. To me, they’re on the same wavelength as Rush. You know, it’s one thing to have talent but it’s a whole other thing to have so much talent that you can actually invent a whole new way of approaching music. It’s these legends who have done just that. What an amazing thing to be able to accomplish.”

Fire On The Floor is out now through Mascot. For more, visit Beth Hart’s website.