Lee Sklar has been a prominent figure among Hollywood session bassists dating back to the 1970s and ever since. Sklar (born Leland Bruce Sklar, May 28, 1947, Milwaukee, WI) has more than 2000 albums to his credit (and still counting), and is considered to be one of the “A” players in the highly selective L.A. rock music community where the competition for recording dates is fierce, and where only the strongest will survive. His very recognizable bass playing style has been heard on hits by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, Jackson Browne, Phil Collins, Clint Black, Reba McEntire, and George Strait, to name just a few. And never one to remain idle, Sklar has entered the new millennium with a vengeance, taking on new projects with Willie Nelson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nils Lofgren, Lisa Loeb, and many more.

The reputation of a fine session player is not held exclusively to the record industry. Television and motion picture musical directors have called upon Sklar for his expertise countless times. He has played on TV shows such as Hill Street Blues, Knight Rider, Simon and Simon, and also on many motion pictures, including Forrest Gump, Ghost, Kindergarten Cop, and My Best Friend’s Wedding. The list is virtually endless.

lee_sklarSklar moved from Wisconsin to Southern California when he was very young and started playing piano at age four. When he entered Birmingham Junior High in Van Nuys he fully intended to continue as a pianist in the school music program but found that there was an overabundance of piano students, but no string bass players. His instructor, Mr. Ted Lynn, asked Sklar if he would consider playing bass and, if so, he would teach him. As Sklar stated it, “…my life changed. Piano took a back seat and bass was it!”

It was toward the end of the ’60s and after completing his education at California State University, Northridge, as a music/art major that Sklar met James Taylor and they started doing some gigs. They thought they might be playing together for about a month, but then Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” became a huge hit record and Sklar’s career began to gain steam. Sklar’s first sessions were with Taylor. The buzz surrounding this new bass player didn’t take long to spread around Hollywood, and suddenly there was an icon in the making.

Over the years Sklar has worked with nearly all of the top session players in Hollywood, but on the backs of album covers his name seems to pop up more frequently alongside drummer Russ Kunkel, guitarist Dan Kortchmar, and keyboardist Craig Doerge. This quartet would come to be known as the Section and they would record three of their own albums between 1972 and 1977 with the participation of additional select sidepersonnel. Occasionally the Section would give a subtly announced live performance, much to the delight of their esoteric followers who would seek them out and feast on their mastery.

courtesy of AllMusic.com

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Comments 489

    1. Leland Sklar
  1. ZIGGY

    Hi Lee, I just joined this site, I am familiar with your work via several recordings, but I think most of all through the Cobham Spectrum album. I actually caught you guys at a show in Oakland CA, Yoshis, one time ago, awesome. Dean Brown on Guitar, I am a guitarist, just wondering, what do you look for when you play with a guitarist, I do not really read, very little, love all kinds of music, but mostly play blues, rock, reggae, soul, little jazz. I want to learn more jazz, I was also wondering what you think the most important thing to focus on when you get into theory. Thanks much, I appreciate it! Love your playing

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I would try to learn as much as you can. I have friends who know little theory and can’t read and play their asses off. If you want to do studio work then your palate must be wide. Really depends on what you want to do. Listen to as much as you can and try to assimilate it. Just enjoy and have fun.

    2. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      If you do not read there is much in theory that you are missing. I would do your best to get some reading skills together. It really is not that difficult. It was Gary Husband on keys at the Cobham gig. I look for a guy who listens and is a part of the music rather than someone who says DIG ME! It is a collaboration. Just play as much as you can and embrace it all.

  2. Dave Jansen

    Dear lee,

    On ur facebook i dont see much pics of you hanging around on a airport or pics of you going on a plane somewhere in the world. I would love it if you could post it some more.

    greetings from a Dutch fan.

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Usually in and out of the airport as fast as possible. Just flew from London to Zurich and Leipzig yesterday. Drive to Berlin tomorrow and then fly back to London. Then heading to Helsinki and Madrid. A moving target is harder to hit!!!!

  3. R J

    So very sorry about your DAD, brother. I had to play a service once for a friend and I heard the Pastor say, “Maybe his mansion is ready!” I hope this brings comfort to you and your family. My best wishes and prayers for a quick healing of your heart.

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      He had a great and long life. We had hang time before he passed. I am OK with that. Now my focus is on my mom for they had been together since they were 20 and 21. Going to be tough on her but she is a tough gal and will do OK.

  4. rjfpeeps@yahoo.com

    Hey there Lee, been watching your adventures with Judith and Co. in London…that was pretty cool you guys playing at her home for the press and fans. Just saw a post on Bernard Purdie have you ever played with him. What your thought and do you remember on what track…that’s if you remember.

    Enjoy riding along with you on fb…and enjoy the rare post on Mr. Peabody and Sherman! Thx with appreciation a wishful friend RJ

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Played with Bernard on a tribute to Jeff Porcaro album. We did “Babylon Sister” It was a pleasure. Have known him for ages but do not get that many opportunities to play. David Garfield produced it.

    2. Leland Sklar
  5. larryholder

    I tend to prefer the tone all the way left (bassy) while a friend prefers to turn it fully right, supposedly to be heard better in live performance. Do you have a preference (live, recording) or does it depend on other factors? Rock on!

    1. Leland Sklar
  6. GaryF

    Hi Leland, just want to say that I think you are an awesome bass player. I loved it when you toured with Toto and hoped you would remain with them. You’re playing style is wonderful and looks so effortless. On a different note, I’m sure you’ve been asked this many times, but does your unique stylish beard ever become a hindrance to you?

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      They asked me to continue with them but I had already committed to another tour and had to say no. Loved playing not eh new CD. Beard is no hinderance until it gets caught in my strap locks.

    1. Leland Sklar
  7. MRobinson2015

    Hi Lee,

    I’m sure you’ve influenced many bass players in your long career but who were some of the musicians who influenced you when you were starting out?

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I started out as a classical/jazz player. Ray Brown, Red Calendar, Ron Carter, Mingus……..then when McCartney hit I was there! Yeah! Jack Bruce, Entwistle, …… so many. I am a fan of the instrument so there are many influences. Carol Kay was a huge influence even though we never knew it was her who was playing on so many of the songs that we listened to. Jamerson, Babbit ….. so many!

  8. terranova

    Great bass players and the internet. Hey Lee cruising youtube videos of bass player live and stumbled upon Bobby Vega who I was somehow completely unaware of, what a great and unique player and like yourself making himself available to the world through the information age. Can you recommend any other characters like Bobby who might be lurking in the shadows of the world wide web with good stuff to offer.

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Bobby is fabulous. Bobby Leitig, who played and recorded with Seals & Crofts was a beautiful player. I am always going through You Tube and checking out amazing players from all over the world. I gift to us all.

  9. emmanuel_99

    Hi Lee! Hope everything is going well, just wanted to ask you what tracks did you play on Toto XIV? And I’d like to ask if you know what gear did Luke use for his bass parts. It sounds amazing. You guys are at the highest level a musician can reach. 🙂

    1. Leland Sklar
  10. Syrtah

    Dear Lee,
    I just found Tommy Bolin’s “Teaser” album on youtube (by pure accident – i liked the cover picture and thought I hit the play button) and did some research while listening to it. When I learned that he was the guitarist on “Spectrum” (I’m just digging myself into this era in music history, so sorry if I don’t know some of the “general knowledge” stuff…) I had to think of you, obviously.
    And then I read that Phil Collins did some of the percussion on “Teaser” which made me think of you again 🙂 hence my (somewhat polemic) question: Did you guys just all know each other back then and was that how other projects came into life? Or did the producers/record companies suggest to contact this or that guy cause he would fit to the style of this or that project?
    Thanks again for the opportunity to ask you questions here! All the best! Toni

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I knew Tommy from his Zephyr days back in 1968. I hooked up with Cobham when the band I was in, The Section, was opening for Mahavishnu Orchestra around 1972. Phil I played with for the first time on a Lee Rittenour album around 1980. It is a small circle of friends. Gigs do come from many different directions though. No rules!!!!!

  11. garyogan

    JT/s ‘Gorilla’ and ‘In The Pocket’ rank as two all timers for me, for depth and scope of the fun. Beyond the pocket, time, and choice of notes, from whence came your drive to acquire the chops you amassed fairly early on? … Happy and honored to connect with you folks here! …. here, here, …. hear?

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I just play. Have always played. Never really think about it. When we record I just let the song tell me what it needs and does NOT need. Those albums are amongst my faves too! I also love FLAG. All the best wishes for a great 2015 and beyond……….

  12. rjfpeeps@yahoo.com

    Good Day Lee, just want to wish you and your family a Happy New Year for you, and a New Year of music for all of us. Just cruising through fb and on wimp.com is a post on a “car forest” in Germany I believe you’d enjoy, just amazing…thought of you! Hear you next year!

    1. Leland Sklar
  13. rjfpeeps@yahoo.com

    Hey Lee just wanted to wish you and your family including the hounds a Merry Christmas this year. Thanks for the music you played this year…I followed you and Judiths journey acoss the world and all the funny dances, I especially like the hobbit picture. I also like your post on fb…you have a great heart! God bless you.

    1. Leland Sklar

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