A Short Biography of Carol Kaye

Carol with guitar

Carol Kaye was born in 1935 in Everett, Washington to musician parents, Clyde and Dot Smith, both professionals. She came to California 1941, lived in a housing project in Wilmington, California, grew up poor.

Carol started playing guitar at age 14, had three months of lessons with Howard Roberts' teacher Horace Hatchett, who hired Carol to teach with him then in 1949. She also started play semi-jazz jobs then. Carol played odd jobs with all kinds of groups, on the road with big band at ages 19 and 20. She played bebop 1956 through about 1963 with the finest jazz groups in L.A. Mostly black clubs where the jazz was hottest!

Accidently Carol got into studio work in 1957 when Bumps Blackwell heard her playing at the Beverly Caverns with the Teddy Edwards jazz group and asked Carol to do recording sessions with Sam Cooke.A studio session Carol had many big regordings on guitar for the 1st 5 years of studio work in Hollywood, but soon she would become the most wanted session bassist, playing hit after hit.

"I accidentally picked up someone's Fender Bass when the bass player didn't show on a record date at Capitol Records in 1963 and became quickly the first call bassist for all of the good lines I could create".

She enjoyed working under the direction of Michel LeGrand, Quincy Jones, Elmer Bernstein, Lalo Schifrin, David Rose, David Grusin, Ernie Freeman, Hugo Montenegro, Leonard Rosenman, John Williams, Alfred & Lionel Newman, etc. as well as the numerous hits she recorded for hundreds of recording artists. Carol also did practically all of the Phil Spector's 60's sessions.

Beginning in 1969, Carol also wrote her first of many bass tutoring books, "How To Play The Electric Bass" effectively changing the name of Fender Bass to Electric Bass and began teaching 100s of Electric Bass students, many of them now famous themselves.


Her tutors are endorsed by such notables as Professor Joel Leach, 10-year winner of the Pacific Jazz Festival Awards with his famous Cal-State Northridge Jazz Bands, and Plas Johnson, jazz/blues studio sax legend ("Pink Panther"). She stepped out to perform live with the Hampton Hawes Jazz Trio in the mid 70s, has given many seminars all over the USA, and is a leader in Electric Bass education.

Over the years Carol Kaye has become one of the most appreciated bassists and studio musicians. Her legacy is carried further by numerous artists today.

"Think the record of being the most recorded bassist, male or female, will stand?"

It will.

For more information, visit Carol's official site: www.carolkaye.com.