California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day: I’d go to the Jazz club Charlie O’s on January 5th, if I was in L.A. Sax legend Plas Johnson (“Pink Panther Theme”) and electric bass innovator Carol Kaye (“Mission Impossible Theme”) will share the same stage. But mind you, Carol Kaye will play guitar, not electric bass. Plas and Carol both started their careers in Jazz. In the nineteen-fifties they began working as studio musicians in Los Angeles, recording hundreds of Pop hits and movie scores.
Carol Kaye first played rhythm guitar on hits like “Unchained Melodie” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” (Righteous Brothers), “La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens), “What a Wonderful World” (Sam Cooke), “Surfin’ USA” (Beach Boys) and many others. Then she switched to electric bass and played unforgettable bass lines. It’s her electric bass on the Beach Boy’s “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations”, on the “The Bill Cosby Show” theme, on Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” on Elvis’s “A Little Less Conversation”, on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”, and on Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. For more of her bass credits check this list.
Like Carol, Plas Johnson played on countless records. A small sample of people he played with includes Carol King, Steely Dan, Barbara Streisand, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Little Richard, and B.B. King. For more credits check this list.
After their successful careers in the music studios, Plas Johnson and Carol Kaye returned to their Jazz roots. Plas regularly performs in Jazz clubs and at festivals. Carol also gets on stage from time to time, writes bass and guitar tutorials, and teaches (check out her valuable playing tips). It’s a rare chance to hear these two great musicians together, who both contributed so much to music.