So, to examine/take apart this in more detail (and it definitely deserves some serious analysis/consideration)...
I think you may be being a bit tough on some of these session and free lance touring guys ariel. I dunno...just my opinion. I think their influence is underestimated because they didn't play with a highly recognizable band, although these session guys in many cases were primary influences on many of the band boys...
I'll be the first to grant that the five criteria we have for this list are hardly complete as a measurement of greatness and therefore should really more be taken as a starting point/frame for discussion than as some gospel truth way of judging players. Intangibles and other things can be highly relevant to greatness too. Again, this is why Jamerson would stay #1 even if Entwistle somehow beat him by criteria.
There are problems in terms of being able to accurately assess session players *by* the criteria we have, though. How the heck do ya judge influence? I'm more than happy - I think it's accurate, actually - to give significant influence points to a session dude who has been mentioned as an influence by later players in rock, or whose style clearly influenced future players in terms of their approach to the instrument, etc. This is why guys like Osborn, Rainey, and Babbitt will always be high on this list -- they helped shape the 'sound' and approach of rock bass, for better or worse, and knowing them is essential to understanding the history of the instrument and its use. But when we get to session players who as Ssoyd so well put it, lack a distinctive sound, it's harder for me to honestly award them a lot of points by some of the criteria we use. The exception is again with people who were there at the beginning and were omnipresent on the radio and stuff back in the 60s when bass was first being solidified conceptually by bassists.
plus they can tear it up on a moments notice without the benefit of weeks of rehearsal on the same song...and then playing those same songs for YEARS in many cases, which in all honesty ain't all that tough.
This is one of those unspoken 'other criteria' I try to pay heed to and make note of in assessing players for this list -- something you might call 'professionalism', for lack of a better word. These guys are PROFESSIONAL musicians, can do pretty much anything they'd be asked to do in any situation, don't fuck up, and are highly adept at being consistent and keeping the creative juices flowing. They also tend to continue growing as players over their whole career and never get stagnant. All of this together is fairly significant I think.
Take Ready Freddie. Move him down? I think he's a guy who ought to move up. I can readily think of 8 or 9 guys above him who would jump at the chance of touring with Steely Dan in a New York second (it's not easy stuff they play)...not counting those who just don't fit the Steely Dan style or genre. Freddie was asked...they weren't.
Hmmm. Thing is, while being asked to play with the Dan is a BIG deal in terms of it showing his reputation, acclaim in the industry and what I'm rather coarsely calling 'professionalism' (see above), it's hard to see how this could mean he should maintain a very high spot on this list. It's a factor for sure in assessing greatness. But does it mean he should really be above guys like Bootsy who played a considerably more significant role in shaping the instrument and its use and how players approach it and conceptualize it?
We shouldn't hold it against a guy who played tons of rock/pop sessions (Jackson, Laboriel, Will Lee, etc)...but penalize them because they also play fusion, jazz, folk, or country as well. Most of those guys have played more rock/pop/R&B sessions than most of the band players could ever dream about.
This is a rather good point. It's definitely wrong to penalize someone for being versatile -- hell, versatility is one of the 5 criteria on here!!! The problem is in assessing 'how rock is rock
', i.e. how 'rock' do you have to be to qualify for this list to begin with. Someone like Miller is on the border since he's played rock enough that he deserves consideration maybe, but his 'greatness' lies in what he did within jazz, mostly. Jaco for instance, to use a more stark example is revered by rock players all 'round, and played electric
with an aggressive approach that was very 'rock' and not at all traditional jazz it seems to me...but I still wouldn't feel comfortable putting him on this list, in spite of his playing with Joni Mitchell a lot. So where do we draw the line? Laboriel probably makes it in. Does Jackson? I don't know, I don't know enough about him.