The Signed Bass


The story…

Not a gig goes by without, at least, one or two people asking about the names on the back of the bass; so here’s her story. While the bass may not (or actually may, these days) be worth a whole lot in general value, as it’s a relatively cheap bass, it’s incredibly special in sentimental value. Obviously, before The Class of ’58 was the Coleman family, the band existed with previous members, with Howie & Chris being the only constant members, this bass serves as a living record of those times.

Howie & Chris travelled thousands and thousands of miles, all over the UK and Europe and backed a lot of the original fifties American and British recording stars. The mix of stars was eclectic; everyone from big household names to hit making stars, rockabilly artists of the legendary Sun Record Label, “one-hit-wonders”, all the way down to plain, hardworking musicians that were caught in the right place at the right time. Some became icons, some were elevated to legendary music stars, some stars faded and they returned to playing the same gigs that they’d done their whole lives before stardom came calling and others just faded into the quiet life of obscurity.

While many wont be regarded as household names these days, every single one of them are worthy of being regarded as a building brick for todays modern recording industry, so deserve a mention.

It was only after a few years of touring with these rock & roll stars that Chris came up with the idea of having them sign the back of her bass, so some of the early stars they worked with didn’t get a chance to sign it. Unfortunately, these stars included the legendary DJ Fontana, Scotty Moore and The Jordanaires; you win some, you lose some, as the saying goes. The first person to sign the bass was RCA Victor recording star and rockabilly queen, Janis Martin, Chris’ hero.

The bass is, these days, almost a living autograph book. Almost all of the people who’ve signed the back of the bass, certainly all of the original recording stars of the fifties, are sadly no longer with us. Only a few of the later artists are still alive today. Sadly, there will come a point where all of them will be gone but, as they say, their memories and the memories that Howie and Chris created while touring with them, will live on.

In no particular order, the artists who Howie and Chris have toured with, many of which have signed the back of the bass are:

The Comets, The Crickets, Carl Perkins, DJ Fontana, Jack Scott, Charlie Gracie, Janis Martin, Billy Lee Riley, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Preston, Frankie Ford, Sonny Burgess, Jackie Lee Cochran, Ray Campi, Tommy Sands, Johnny Powers, Sleepy La Beef, Dale Hawkins, Ben Hewitt, “Big” Jay McNeely, Paul Burlison, Rocky Burnette, Freddie “Fingers” Lee, Rip Masters, Frank Allen, Bruce Welch, Graham Fenton, Linda Gail Lewis, Terry Dene, Lonnie Donnegan, Wee Willie Harris, Don Lang, Tommy Bruce, Chas McDevitt, Screaming Lord Such, Mike Berry.