Bassists We Have Met

Cool, I always wanted to meet Heart. Plus there’s a Howard in the band.


Dominic Griffin was the Irish bloke from the real world. He does music and film journalism.

My cousin’s husband, Marcus Cliffe is an accomplished bass guitarist. He currently tours with The Manfreds (reunion of former members of the 1960s pop group Manfred Mann). They have his bio on their website, I am amazed at who he has collaborated with through the years. Obviously in demand for his bass playing skills…

Born in Leeds in 1962, Marcus studied piano from the age of nine. He started playing bass guitar/double bass in high school then went on to Leeds College of Music to study Jazz and Light Music as a pianist, but changed to bass after one year and graduated in 1983. After leaving college he joined a local band, Brendan Croker And The 5 O’Clock Shadows. On the last of their three albums he worked with Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton and Tanita Tikaram. Following a successful album and tour with the Notting Hillbillies, he worked with Mike Lindup of Level 42 fame.

In the ensuing years he has worked with Tasmin Archer, Paul Young, Al Green, Jon Secada, Lulu, Steve Earl, Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois, Bert Jansch, Rod Stewart, Eternal, Fine Young Cannibals, Heather Small, Rosalie Deighton, Andrea Corr, Sharon Corr and Jimmy Nail among others. He has been involved with Tin Tin Out playing on mixes for Tina Turner, Sting and Mariah Carey, but they had their biggest hit with Emma (Baby Spice) Bunton. He can also be heard and seen on the Sunn Record Tribute film and album where he made up the rhythm section with Elvis Presley’s original band members Scotty More and DJ Fontana to do tracks with Mark Knopfler, Brian Ferry, Zucchero and Jools Holland. Marcus can still been seen regularly on TV as part of the house band for the hit Sky TV show ‘don’t forget the lyrics’ hosted by Shane Richie.

Marcus also has been writing and producing from his Norbury Brook Studio in south London for the last 10 years. He has co written and produced with many artists including Miracle Mile, where with musical partner Trevor jones made the Mercury music prize long list for the album ‘Glow’, had the Sunday Times record of the week with the album ‘Limbo’ and Pop song of the year with ‘Lights of home’.
He has also written and produced many albums with his partner Lucinda Drayton who has sold over 100 000 albums and who wrote the number one hit ‘the real thing’ in 1994. Marcus and Lucinda were also part of the super group ‘the gathering’ who’s album ‘startled by the familiar’ has just been remastered for Linn records along with a selection of his other productions over the last 10 years.
Since 2012 Marcus has worked with Number 1 selling artist Rumer. Has produced and written a new Miracle Mile album which was Record of the month in Hifi News and gained critical acclaim. Produced and played on two albums for 70’s star Russell Oliver Stone. Produced/played on solo artist Jones latest CD to critical acclaim ; Jeremy Searl of the independent said ‘the best album you’ll hear all year’.
Over the past few years, Marcus has moved into the world of film composing and written the scores for two award winning films; Transcending the storm and Eternities sunrise.
Last year Marcus also sang and played on the hit album by Alexander Armstrong ’Upon a distant shore’, also co writing the title track with his partner Lucinda Drayton. He continues to work with Mark Knopfler on various projects.
This years sees the release of Marcus’s first solo album ‘Heard’ an album of Blues, soul and jazz influenced tunes showcasing Marcus’ talents as a guitar player and composer fronting an amazing band of world class players.


Back in the early to mid '90s, I had recently graduated high school and had a job washing dishes at one of the nicer restaurants in my town while I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The restaurant happened to be owned by the guy that did concert promotions in the area.

We got word that the band Mr. Big and Bryan Adams were in town for a concert the following day and would be coming in for a private dinner that evening. They were looking for people to work late and provide service.

Now, the only busboy on site wanted nothing to do with it. Being a huge metalhead guitar player at the time and relishing the opportunity to meet Paul Gilbert, I volunteered, even though I hadn’t bussed before. They were in a pickle, so I was the guy.

As the night went on, these guys were ordering drinks left and right. The server couldn’t keep up, so I was enlisted to go fetch them drinks, which kept me pretty busy, as well as in their good graces, LOL!

This was kind of a fancy restaurant. It didn’t have a sound system, but there was a piano onsite that was used to play classy background music during brunches and such. The guys decide that they want to play some music so I led them to it.

The absolute highlight of my “musical career” then occurred. Eric played piano while Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey, and freaking ME stood behind him and all of us sang “To be with you”. Stick a fork in me!

At the end of the night, as they were heading out, Billy Sheehan comes up to me and hands me an unopened bottle of Tequila which ended up on their tab but that they hadn’t gotten to yet. He hands it to me and says “Julian, this is for you man!” and coaches me on how best to conceal it since I was under drinking age at the time.

What an awesome night that was! I’ll never forget it.


Lemmy a couple of times in LA, at Canter’s on Fairfax. He recorded the outgoing message on a friend’s phone (which I think was like a Nokia lol). It was easy to meet him if you were with young women, and we were all in our 20s.

Not sure what the threshold for famous, but met several likely lesser known bassists, Isabelle from ELR, Maggy from Kaelan Mikla, Ryan from Knoll, others. I feel like if you are in niche music communities where everyone is a fan of everyone, the distinction between fan and band is more indistinct.

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Saw Gino Vannelli last night and got to hang with Damian Erskine (who is Gino’s go-to bass player) before the show. Damian is just the nicest guy and a really good bass teacher as well.


I just met Derrick Vella of Tomb Mold in Toronto when I was volunteering as a loader at a dark music festival there this past weekend.