Happy Birthday to Les Claypool! He was born Leslie Edward Claypool on September 29th, 1963, in Richmond, California. He is celebrating his 60th birthday today!
Of course, Les was the bassist, lead vocalist, and primary songwriter for the trio Primus. He learned to play bass guitar at the age of 14 growing up in El Sobrante, California. After graduating from high school, Claypool worked as a carpenter for several years, when he formed the band Primate with guitarist Todd Huth. The band would soon change their name to Primus after another band also named Primate threatened legal action against Claypool & Huth.
In 1986, after the death of Metallica bassist, Cliff Burton, Claypool was asked by his good friend, former childhood classmate, and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett to audition as Burton’s successor and was famously not offered the gig with James Hetfield saying Claypool “was too good.”
Claypool has worked with and been a part of several other bands and projects since then such as Oysterhead, featuring Stewart Copeland of the Police on drums and Trey Anastasio from Phish on guitar and vocals, Sausage, and one of my favorites, the Claypool Lennon Delirium with Sean Ono Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono on guitar and vocals.
It’s such a cool mix of Primus crossed with The Beatles type of sound and vibe. Of course, you can’t forget Colonel Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, or Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains with Buckethead or his Fancy Band and yes, even Duo de Twang. So many fun bands, and so many weird names.
The Les Claypool Style
Most people know Claypool for his unique and innovative bass-playing style, as well as his quirky and often humorous lyrics. A good example of that is “Wynonna’s Big Brown Beaver.” That bass line is nasty in this super cool but weird song.
Since 1990, Claypool and Primus have released nine studio albums. Les has also guest starred on several songs from other artists including Green Jello’s “Three Little Pigs,” Metallica’s cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone,” Tom Waits, Alex Lifeson, Jerry Cantrell, and many more.
I have been fortunate enough to see Claypool live many times over the years including a bunch with Primus. I especially loved “A Fairwell to Kings” Rush tribute! I’ve also seen him a couple of times with the Claypool Lennon Delerium. Claypool/Lennon have released two studio albums, 2016’s Monolith of the Phobos and 2019’s South of Reality. In my opinion, they are both masterpieces!
Les Claypool brings his Fearless Flying Frog Brigade to the Fillmore on Wednesday, October 25th. Tickets are on sale now.
Happy 60th Birthday Les Claypool. We’ll see ya back in Philly soon!