Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Les Claypool is a bassist and lead singer of the alternative rock band Primus. Born on September 29, 1963, in Richmond, California, Claypool is famous for bringing the electric bass into the spotlight with his funky, creative playing. Though he cites Geddy Lee of Rush as his greatest influence, his style is unique, mixing heavy-metal tapping and fingerplaying with a Stanley Clarke-like slap technique, with heavy doses of The Residents thrown in for good measure.
As a teenager, Claypool was turned on to rock music such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix by classmate Kirk Hammett (of Metallica fame). After picking up the bass at the age of fourteen and developing his chops in the school jazz band, Claypool played in a local cover band called the Tommy Crank Band where he was able to develop his patented slap technique through listening to Stanley Clarke and Larry Graham. He also bought his first Carl Thompson bass, his trademark four string piccolo. (He now owns six, including a multi-wood $10,000 fretless 6-string called the Rainbow Bass.)
In the late 80s, Claypool played in the band Blind Illusion with future Primus guitarist Ler Lalonde. Primus began as Primate with Claypool's friends Todd Huth and Jay Lane in 1989, Huth and Lane leaving shortly thereafter to pursue other projects. Claypool replaced them with metal guitarist Lalonde and eclectic drummer Tim Alexander. Primus began selling out local clubs with their out-of-control live act and irreverent approach to music (their catchphrase was - and still is - "Primus sucks!").
From 1989 to 2000, Primus steadily became the weirdest band to gain significant mainstream airplay, headlining Lollapallooza in 1993, appearing on David Letterman and Conan O'Brien in 1995, and even making an appearance at 1994's Woodstock Music Festival where they performed their Pork Soda hit "My Name is Mud" with predictable results (Claypool claims to still have mud in his speakers).
The year 2000 saw Primus on indefinite hiatus, leaving Claypool to form Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, a jam band much like Phish or String Cheese Incident. This allowed him to return to his musical roots, playing songs by bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and the Beatles. Claypool has called the Frog Brigade his "mid-life crisis band." In addition to two live albums (one being an exact cover of Pink Floyd's Animals), the Frog Brigade has released one studio album, 2002's Purple Onion. Claypool has also collaborated with Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland in jam-rock project Oysterhead.
Claypool also collaborated with virtuoso guitarist Buckethead, funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, and former Primus drummer Brain under the name, Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, whose concerts pushed the improvisational envelope by preparing no material and not rehearsing beforehand. At one of their shows they prepared sandwiches onstage for the audience members to eat.
In late 2003 Claypool reunited with original Primus drummer Tim Alexander and guitarist Larry LaLonde to record a DVD/EP called Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People, which Claypool described as the first DVD with supplementary music, as opposed to the contrary. The band staged a two month tour in which they performed two sets per show, the second consisting of their 1991 release Sailing the Seas of Cheese in its entirety. 2004 saw them continue touring, and even performing their 1990 release Frizzle Fry in its entirety. It was Frizzle-tastic!
Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains reunited in 2004 to record The Big Eyeball in the Sky, an album with equal parts instrumental and vocal songs. The band began an 18-state tour of the US on September 24, 2004
- The Sane Asylum (1988, Blind Illusion)
- Suck on This (1989, Primus)
- Frizzle Fry (1990, Primus)
- Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991, Primus)
- Miscellaneous Debris (1992, Primus)
- Pork Soda (1993, Primus)
- Riddles are Abound Tonight (1994, Sausage)
- Tales from the Punchbowl (1995, Primus)
- Highball with the Devil (1996, Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel)
- Brown Album (1997, Primus)
- Rhinoplasty (1998, Primus)
- Antipop (1999, Primus)
- Live Frogs Set 1 (2001, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade)
- Live Frogs Set 2 (2001, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade)
- The Grand Pecking Order (2001, Oysterhead)
- Purple Onion (2002, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade)
- Animals Should Not Try to Act like People (2003, Primus)
- The Big Eyeball in the Sky (2004, Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains)
- Side One (2005, Adrian Belew featuring Les Claypool and Danny Carey)
- Charlie Hunter Trio (1993)
- Official website
- Primus Misinformation webpage
- Colonel Claypool's Bucket Of Bernie Brains
- Primus offical website
- Oysterhead - The Grand Pecking Order
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