Nathan Harrell East (born December 8, 1955) is an American jazz, R&B and rock bass player and vocalist. With more than 2,000 recordings, East is considered one of the most recorded bass players in the history of music. East holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of California, San Diego (1978). He is a founding member of contemporary jazz quartet Fourplay and has recorded, performed and co-written songs with performers such as Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Joe Satriani, George Harrison, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Toto, Daft Punk, and Herbie Hancock.
Nathan Harrell East was born on December 8, 1955 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Thomas and Gwendolyn East, he is one of eight children (five boys and three girls) raised in San Diego, where the family moved when he was four. East first studied cello in seventh through ninth grades and played in local Horace Mann junior high school’s orchestra. At age fourteen he developed an interest in the bass guitar, playing in church (Christ The King) for folk masses with his brothers Raymond and David. He was active in his (Crawford) high school’s music programs along with a local top 40 band called “Power”. He has said his early influences included Charles Mingus, Ray Brown and Ron Carter on upright bass; and James Jamerson, Paul McCartney and Chuck Rainey on electric bass. He studied music at UC San Diego. Nathan East is also an accomplished amateur magician member of The Magic Castle and the Academy of Magical Arts.
East has recorded, performed and co-written songs with Barry White, Anita Baker, The Love Unlimited Orchestra, Babyface, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Elton John, Laura Pausini, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bryan Ferry, Savage Garden, Sting, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Kenny Loggins, The Manhattan Transfer, Herbie Hancock & Daft Punk. In 2013, he recorded the bass line of the 2013 hit “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, which won the Grammies for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (2014). ‘Get Lucky’ has sold over 7.5 million copies. East also composed the music for the Number one hit song “Easy Lover” for Phil Collins and Philip Bailey.
He performed on the Grammy Award-winning Unplugged album with Eric Clapton which featured the song “Tears in Heaven” (1992). East, a member of Eric Clapton’s studio and touring bands since the early 1980s also played on Clapton’s “Change the World” which won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1997. Other DVDs and videos Nathan appears on include Babyface Unplugged (1997), Phil Collins’ “Live & Loose in Paris” (1998), Eric Clapton’s 24 Nights (1991), One More Car, One More Rider (2001), Crossroads Guitar Festival (2004), Fourplay “Live in Cape Town (2006), Andrea Bocelli’s, Vivere Live in Tuscany (2007) and David Foster & Friends (2008).
East was invited to play at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 2009, with a cast of luminaries of all genres of music.
East is one of the original members of the contemporary jazz group Fourplay, along with Bob James (keyboards), Lee Ritenour on guitar (later replaced by Larry Carlton and Chuck Loeb) and Harvey Mason (drums). Their Grammy Award-nominated albums have earned platinum status, and have topped Billboard’s contemporary jazz charts.
In early 2010, East was invited to join American Grammy Award-winning rock band Toto on their reunion tour to benefit member Mike Porcaro, who had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Another tour took place in the summer of 2011 with East once again playing. He was with the band during their summer tour in 2012. He is listed as a member on the official site of Toto as of 2013. East rejoined Eric Clapton’s band for a series of concerts in Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Dubai in February and March 2014 and again for the Madison Square Garden and Royal Albert Hall concerts of May, 2015.
In June 2012 he launched the Online Electric Bass School with Nathan East as a part of the ArtistWorks Bass Campus. www.nathaneastbass.com
Nathan East released his first ever debut self-titled solo album on March 25, 2014 on Yamaha Entertainment Group label with guest appearances by Michael McDonald, Sara Bareilles, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Kazumasa Oda, Bob James, Chuck Loeb, Ray Parker, Jr., David Paich and his 13-year-old son Noah East.
Nathan East playing a Yamaha SLB200 Silent Upright Bass with Fourplay at Knight Theater, Charlotte, NC, on June 8, 2014
East has endorsed Yamaha instruments since 1981 and developed his own custom 5-string signature model in 1994, the BBNE (modeled after his early 1980s BB5000 5-string bass). The 2nd and current Nathan East signature bass, the BBNE2 was released in 2001, though Nathan can be seen playing the original prototype as early as 2000. The original prototype has a solid Gotoh bridge where as the production model has the Yamaha BPZ-7 bridge which features individual, machined saddles that provide more precise intonation and clarity. The BBNE2 bass has a slightly smaller body than the BBNE as well as neck-thru construction where the BBNE was a bolt-on. The BBNE2 appears to be heavily influenced by Nathan’s late 1980s custom black Yamaha LB-1 Motion 5-string bass. The BBNE2’s electronics feature a custom preamp with a three band eq that includes the NE-1 (eq pedal) circuit built in with its own level control and on/off switch. The NE-1 circuit is a parametric mid control that allows the user to specifically target midrange frequencies to cut. The BBNE2’s control switches for the on-board NE-1 have been confused for a piezo circuit by many people due to its resemblance to early piezo equipped TRBP models. The BBNE2 is available in both solid white or solid black finishes with gold hardware and an ebony fingerboard. Yamaha also released a small number of white BBNE2 basses that included all black hardware, this model was called the BBNE2 Artist model.
In addition to the currently available BBNE2, a limited edition 30th Anniversary version (the BBNE2 LTD) was released in 2011 and that bass was finished in pewter and featured all black hardware. The BBNE2 LTD bass celebrated Nathan’s 30-year partnership with Yamaha. The BBNE2 LTD also came with custom case candy which included a large photo book containing photos of Nathan’s different Yamaha basses throughout the last 30 years, an assortment of pewter colored bass plectrums and a custom black leather strap all adorned with his personal signature. The BBNE2 LTD had a very limited run of only 50 basses.
In addition to regularly playing live and recording with the BBNE2 signature bass, Nathan has also used custom 6-string prototypes of his BBNE2 between 2003 and 2005, along with his black 1980s LB-1 Motion 5-string bass and a pair of 6-string TRB6P models finished in Faded Cherry Sunburst with gold hardware and Polar White with satin black hardware, both featuring a high-mass bridge with piezo saddles for acoustic upright tones. Yamaha also introduced the NE1 Parametric EQ Pedal, otherwise known as the “Magic Box” in the early 2000s, this pedal essentially gives the player the ability to use the “Nathan East EQ curve” on any bass they choose.
East also plays the Yamaha SLB200 Silent Upright Bass.
Nathan East’s amplification history includes rigs by Trace Elliot, Eden and Aguilar. His current bass rig is by TC Electronic, specifically the Blacksmith head and two RS410 4×10 cabinets. Nathan’s direct boxes of choice are the Avalon U5 and the Radial Firefly. Nathan uses Tara Labs instrument cables and Dunlop nickel-plated roundwound bass strings.
East’s self-titled debut solo album was released on March 25, 2014. During recording, he was joined by several of his longtime associates, including Stevie Wonder, Michael McDonald, Eric Clapton, Ray Parker, Jr. and Greg Phillinganes. The album debuted at the top of Billboard‘s jazz charts, and has seen two singles released to radio, “Daft Funk” and “101 Eastbound.”
East has received a range of awards from music industry associations including The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors’ most prestigious Ivor Novello Award for co-writing the Collins/Bailey hit “Easy Lover”, Most Valuable Player (bass category) at the International Rock Awards and three time Bassist of the Year at the U.S. National Smooth Jazz Awards, N.A.R.A.S. MVP (bassist), ASCAP Awards for most performed work. In 2007, Nathan was honored by the United States Congress and awarded a Congressional Record for his contribution to the worldwide music community.
East is also credited on numerous soundtracks including Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Crossroads, Tarzan, Homeboy – Original Score Performed by Eric Clapton, Waiting to Exhale, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Preacher’s Wife, Phenomenon, One Fine Day, Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, Rush, Escape From L.A., Something to Talk About, Brewster’s Millions, Thelma & Louise and Footloose.
East has performed live with the following artists:
|1971||Barry White||Band Member|
|1971||The Love Unlimited Orchestra||Band Member|
|1979||Patrice Rushen||Band Member|
|1980||Lee Ritenour||Band Member|
|1981||Hubert Laws||Band Member|
|1982||Joe Sample||Band Member|
|1983||Lionel Richie||Studio- Can’t Slow Down (#1 album)|
|1984||Al Jarreau||Band Member|
|1985||Kenny Loggins||Live Aid||Band Member|
|1986||Eric Clapton||Band Member|
|1994-1997||Phil Collins||Band Member|
|2006||Herbie Hancock||Band Member|
|2014||Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams||Grammy Awards||Performer|
|2015||Eric Clapton||Band Member|
|2014||Nathan East||Yamaha Entertainment Group|
|2015||The New Cool||Yamaha Entertainment Group||with Bob James |
|2017||Reverence||Yamaha Entertainment Group||to be released Jan.20, 2017 |
|1993||Between the Sheets||Warner Bros.|
|1997||The Best of Fourplay||Warner Bros.||compilation album|
|2000||Yes, Please!||Warner Bros.|
|2010||Let’s Touch the Sky||Heads Up|
|2012||Esprit de Four||Heads Up|
- East played bass on tracks 1–6, 8, 11, 14 on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.
- He played bass on several tracks of Idina Menzel’s album Holiday Wishes
- Nathan East’s eponymous debut album Nathan East, was released on Yamaha Entertainment Group on March 25, 2014.
- East produced an instructional DVD called The Business of Bass,published by Hal Leonard Publishing.
- East appears in many Eric Clapton concert DVDs, including 24 Nights, MTV Unplugged, One More Car, One More Rider, and various others such as Live at Montreux.
- East was a participant in Star Licks Productions’, All-Star Bass Series.