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In a business where credits and stats matter, Leland "Lee" Sklar's accomplishments are bound to make even the most jaded among us a little awestruck. To date, he's appeared on over 2,500 albums (with sales in the hundreds of millions) by artists such as James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Hall & Oates, David Bowie, Ray Charles, BB King and Lyle Lovett, many of whom have also called upon the veteran bassist's services for tours.
“You get hired based on how you approach the music and the situation," Sklar says. "It’s not just about bringing your chops to the date; it’s what kind of energy and professionalism you bring with you and how you improve the creative process. There are a lot of variables that go into that."
He pauses, then expands on that thought: “As a studio or touring musician, you owe it to the people who hire you to give it your best. There’s a lot of money being spent on sessions or on tours, and the success or failure of your performance could make or break an artist’s career. If you pick up the phone and say yes to doing a date or a tour, there are certain obligations that go along with that beyond your facility as a player. I’ve seen guys take that for granted, and those are the guys who don’t get calls anymore."
For bassists looking to horn in on Sklar's action, beware: At age 67, he's booked solid and is just as hungry as ever to play with artists both legend and unknown. "I still believe that the next record I make could be one of the best ever," he enthuses. "There's a lot of great things being done everywhere, and I love being part of it." Nonetheless, on the following pages, he does offer his Top Five Tips for Bassists.