Chuck Berghofer And His Most Famous Bass Slide

Chuck Berghofer

Nancy Sinatra’s «These Boots Are Made For Walkin’» starts with the most famous bass sliding sound that has ever been recorded in pop music.

The song was arranged by Billy Strange and produced by Lee Hazlewood, who also wrote it. The simple, catchy, and ingenious slide was played on string bass by Chuck Berghofer (sometimes you find his name written «Berghoffer»). There’s also an electric bass on «Boots», played by Carol Kaye, that starts after the opening.

Chuck Berghofer (born 1937) is one of the many jazz musicians who helped with their skill to make pop and rock records sound good. In the jazz world Chuck Berghofer played with pianist Pete Jolly and drummer Shelly Manne among others. In the sixties he started playing on countless pop and rock records that were produced in Los Angeles. He kept playing jazz besides his studio work and is still active.

Here is a small sample of artists he played with during his many-sided and at least forty years long recording career as a string and electric bassist: Ella Fitzgerald, Howard Roberts, Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, Jody Miller, Elvis, Frank Zappa, Diane Krall, Michael Bublé, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Dean Martin and many others.

See also: Poem For A Bass Player and Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD

8 thoughts on “Chuck Berghofer And His Most Famous Bass Slide

  1. Pingback: Brian Isbell Times » Two in a row!

  2. Chuck Berghofer is one of the world’s finest bass players. I have been blessed to have listened to his music my whole life, I love “Boots”, and “Goldielocks” he would play for me every night he could. And he even wrote a number called “Sara” and played it at my wedding. Sara is my daughter…
    and this is to you Dad I love you…
    Your Daughter
    Michelle Lacoff Berghofer

    • Michelle:

      We are looking to get in touch with your dad, Chuck Berghofer, to get some comments from him to include in our Herb Ellis In Memoriam feature we’ll be running in our monthly issue of AllAboutJazz-New York next month. Could you please put us in touch with him, or him with us? Thanks.


      Laurence Donohue-Greene
      Managing Editor
      AllAboutJazz-New York
      116 Pinehurst Ave. Ste.J41
      New York, NY 10033
      ph/fax: 212-568-9628

  3. Michelle,

    Wow I admire your dad!

    Have just been listening to the album with Roberta Gamberini – so good

    I still treasure the Shelly Manne with Ruth Price that he played on in 1961

    Please pass him my fondest regards



  4. Chuck Berghofer, played an unforgetable Desceding BassLine on “Boots”, but the person who originated the sliding Baseline to the song was Twangy Guitarist…Duane Eddy. It happened one night at Doug Westons Troubadour in West Hollywood, Ca. Lee Hazlewood sang the song for Duane and Duane took the guitar and played the now famous Bassline for Lee. Duane also suggested to Lee that he should use a good Jazz singer to record the song.
    When Lee Hazlewood was making his very last Album…he asked Duane Eddy to set up the Recording Session and to play on the song as well. That Album is called ” Cake Or Death ”
    Mike Hart

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