Chuck Rainey

Charles Walter “Chuck” Rainey III (born June 17, 1940 in Cleveland, Ohio, United States) is an American bassist who has played with many well-known acts, including Donald Byrd, Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, The Rascals, Frankie Valli, and Joe Walsh.

Biography

Rainey’s youthful pursuits included violin, piano and trumpet. Later, while attending Lane College in Tennessee, Rainey switched to baritone horn to join the school’s travelling brass ensemble. While on active military duty, Rainey learned rhythm guitar and began playing professionally with local bands. His lack of improvisational skills on guitar led him to pick up the bass, and soon Rainey found himself working steadily as a studio bassist in New York City, recording or touring with many of the greatest acts of that time.

By the 1970s he had played with Jerome Richardson, Grady Tate, Mose Allison, Gato Barbieri, and Gene Ammons, as well as with Eddie Vinson at the 1971 Montreux Festival.

As a member of The King Curtis All-Stars, he toured with the Beatles on their second run across the United States. By the beginning of the 1970s, Rainey had firmly established his place as one of New York City’s first call session bass guitarists.

In 1972, he released his first solo album The Chuck Rainey Coalition on Skye Records. The coalition consists of notable session musicians Richard Tee, Warren Smith, Specs Powell, Eric Gale, Bernard Purdie, Herb Lovelle, Cornell Dupree and Billy Butler.

Moving to Los Angeles in 1972, his work with Quincy Jones continued as a member of Jones’ big band, and Rainey continued to work as a studio musician on others albums like, Betty Davis’ famously shelved session from 1976 or Tim Buckley’s Greetings from L.A. About this time, he bumped into friend and Steely Dan producer Gary Katz, which led to performing on tracks for Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan. His relationship with Steely Dan continued through Katy Lied; The Royal Scam, Aja, where he performs on every track except “Deacon Blues” (Walter Becker played bass for that track); and Gaucho.

Rainey’s style has always been to provide a rhythmic and melodic bottom that works with the drummer for the benefit of the song. His books on bass study refer to a “sensitivity to music” and a dedication to studying the fundamentals of music theory. While his “sideman” philosophy of bass has not brought him the level of recognition of star players such as Jaco Pastorius, Rainey is by far more recorded than his more famous contemporaries.

Discography

As leader

  • The Chuck Rainey Coalition (1972, Skye)
  • Born Again (1981, Hammer ‘N Nails)
  • Hangin Out Right (1996, CharWalt)
  • Sing and Dance (1998, CharWalt)

As session player

    • 1965: Red Holloway – Red Soul (Prestige)
    • 1967: Phil Upchurch – Feeling Blue (Milestone)
    • 1968: Hubert Laws – Laws’ Cause (Atlantic)
    • 1968: David Newman – Bigger & Better (Atlantic), The Many Facets of David Newman (Atlantic)
    • 1968: Cal Tjader – Solar Heat
    • 1968: Laura Nyro – Eli and the Thirteenth Confession
    • 1968: J. J. Johnson and Kai Winding – Betwixt & Between (A&M/CTI)
    • 1968: Eddie Harris – Plug Me In (Atlantic)
    • 1968: Willie Bobo – A New Dimension (Verve)
    • 1968: George Benson – Goodies (Verve)
    • 1969: The Rascals – Freedom Suite
    • 1969: Gary McFarland – America the Beautiful
    • 1969: Hank Crawford – Mr. Blues Plays Lady Soul (Atlantic)
    • 1969: Yusef Lateef – Yusef Lateef’s Detroit (Atlantic)
    • 1969: Quincy Jones – Walking in Space (CTI)
    • 1969: Lena Horne and Gábor Szabó – Lena & Gabor (Skye)
    • 1969: Dizzy Gillespie – Cornucopia (Solid State)
    • 1969: Gary Burton – Good Vibes (Atlantic)
    • 1969: Al Kooper – You Never Know Who Your Friends Are
    • 1969: Jimmy McGriff – Electric Funk
    • 1970: Johnny Pate – Outrageous
    • 1970: Junior Mance – With a Lotta Help from My Friends (Atlantic)
    • 1970: Shirley Scott – Something (Atlantic)
    • 1970: Billy Butler: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (Prestige)
    • 1970: Yusef Lateef – Suite 16 (Atlantic)
    • 1970: Ray Bryant – MCMLXX (Atlantic)
    • 1970: Roberta Flack – Chapter Two
    • 1970: Laura Nyro – Christmas and the Beads of Sweat
    • 1970: Lonnie Smith – Drives
    • 1971: Hank Crawford – It’s a Funky Thing to Do (Cotillion)
    • 1971: Gato Barbieri – El Pampero (Flying Dutchman)
    • 1971: Donny Hathaway – Donny Hathaway
    • 1971: Yusef Lateef – The Gentle Giant (Atlantic)
    • 1971: Grant Green – Visions
    • 1971: Gene Ammons – My Way (Prestige), Free Again (Prestige)
    • 1971: Bernard Purdie Stand By Me (Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get) (Mega)
    • 1971: Roberta Flack – Quiet Fire
    • 1971: Mose Allison – Western Man (Atlantic)
    • 1972: The Crusaders – Hollywood
    • 1972: The Crusaders – 1
    • 1972: Hampton Hawes – Universe (Prestige)
    • 1972: Joe Walsh – Barnstorm
    • 1972: Phil Upchurch – Darkness, Darkness
    • 1972: Delaney, Bonnie & Friends – D&B Together
    • 1972: Charles Kynard – Woga (Mainstream)
    • 1972: Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace
    • 1972: Tim Buckley – Greetings from L.A.
    • 1973: Donald Byrd – Black Byrd
    • 1973: Dave Mason – It’s Like You Never Left
    • 1973: Margie Joseph – Margie Joseph
    • 1973: Afrique – Soul Makossa
    • 1973: David Newman – The Weapon (Atlantic)
    • 1973: Charles Kynard – Your Mama Don’t Dance (Mainstream)
    • 1973: Mary McCreary – Butterflies In Heaven
    • 1973: Bobbi Humphrey – Blacks and Blues
    • 1973: David Clayton-Thomas – David Clayton–Thomas
    • 1973: Lightnin’ Rod – Hustlers Convention
    • 1973: Donald Byrd – Street Lady
    • 1973: Aretha Franklin – With Everything I Feel in Me
    • 1973: Bette Midler – Bette Midler
    • 1973: Sammy Johns – Sammy Johns
    • 1974: Maggie Bell – Queen Of The Night
    • 1974: Donald Byrd – Stepping into Tomorrow
    • 1974: Bobbi Humphrey – Satin Doll
    • 1974: Marlena Shaw – Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?
    • 1974: Les McCann – Another Beginning
    • 1974: Peggy Lee – Let’s Love
    • 1974: Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic
    • 1975: Donald Byrd – Places and Spaces
    • 1975: Johnny Hammond – Gears
    • 1975: Bobby Hutcherson – Linger Lane
    • 1975: Gene Harris – Nexus
    • 1975: Bobbi Humphrey – Fancy Dancer
    • 1975: Harvey Mason – Marching In The Street
    • 1975: Steely Dan – Katy Lied
    • 1976: John Handy – Hard Work (ABC/Impulse)
    • 1976: Robert Palmer – Some People Can Do What They Like
    • 1976: Nils Lofgren – Cry Tough
    • 1976: Patti Austin – End of a Rainbow (CTI)
    • 1976: Gene Harris – In a Special Way
    • 1976: Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’77 – Homecooking
    • 1976: Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
    • 1976: David T. Walker – On Love
    • 1976: Jackson Browne – The Pretender
    • 1976: King Errisson – The Magic Man
    • 1976: Marvin Gaye – I Want You
    • 1976: Betty Davis – Hangin’ Out In Hollywood / Crashin’ From Passion
    • 1977: Minnie Riperton – Stay in Love
    • 1977: Lara Saint Paul – Saffo Music
    • 1977: Tom Scott – Blow It Out
    • 1977: Steely Dan – Aja
    • 1977: Terence Boylan – Terence Boylan
    • 1978: Dusty Springfield – It Begins Again
    • 1978: Jiro Inagaki & Chuck Rainey Rhythm Section – Blockbuster
    • 1978: Leo Sayer – Leo Sayer
    • 1978: Frankie Valli– Valli is the Word
    • 1978: Tavares – Future Bound
    • 1978: D.C. LaRue – Confessions
    • 1978: Cheryl Lynn – Cheryl Lynn
    • 1979: Lowell George – Thanks, I’ll Eat It Here
    • 1979: Leo Sayer – Here
    • 1979: Minnie Riperton – Minnie
    • 1980: Steely Dan – Gaucho
    • 1981: Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates
    • 1982: Larry Coryell – Fairyland
    • 1982: Ry Cooder – The Slide Area
    • 1982: Eye to Eye – Eye to Eye
    • 1982: Donald Fagen – The Nightfly
    • 1997: Andrés Calamaro – Alta suciedad

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