Metallica’s Trujillo Rescues Jaco Pastorius’ Bass of Doom“Jaco wasn’t just a tremendous player and an innovator of the instrument,” says Trujillo. “He had incredible stage presence and a fearless, anything-goes attitude. He was also a brilliant composer. He was so musical and well rounded — and whether it was utilizing aspects of harmonics, distortion or bringing Hendrix into the flow, Jaco always kept it really, really, heavy on the swing end. I think what separates him from a lot of the other super badass bass players was his groove.”Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo has long regarded Jaco Pastorius as his personal hero. During his early days of writing bass lines and riffs with former bands like Infectious Grooves, thoughts of Pastorius inspired his every move. And it wasn’t just his dexterous bass playing either; Trujillo also admired Pastorius’ fearless attitude.
Trujillo considers himself privileged to have seen the late master perform live on several occasions, particularly in 1985 when he happened upon the famed musician in an intimate setting at the Los Angeles Guitar Show. While checking out the various exhibits at Hollywood’s Merlin Hotel, Trujillo’s ears perked up at the sound of a loud distorted bass coming from the neighboring room.
“The walls were shaking!,” recalls Trujillo. “I walked into this room to see who was playing, and there’s Jaco. I was speechless, so I just sat down and watched him play, and the next thing you knew the room had filled up with about 70 people — all completely overwhelmed by his presence. And it was really strange, because he didn’t speak to anybody. He just looked closely at everybody and kept on playing. It was a really surreal and special moment and I’ll always remember it.”
That chance encounter now seems especially serendipitous, as it was Trujillo who recently made it possible for the Pastorius family to gain control over the fabled “Bass of Doom.”
The Pastorius family was electrified to learn in December 2007 that Jaco’s Bass of Doom — the fretless 1962 Fender Jazz Bass that had been stolen from a park bench in Greenwich Village in 1986 — had actually surfaced in a small music store in Manhattan’s east side. Although the instrument had Pastorius’ full name inscribed on the back of the headstock, the shop owner paid a mere $400 to the stranger who walked in off the street after possessing the instrument for over 20 years. Attempts were made through a family representative to recover the long-missing instrument by offering a handsome reward, but the store owner was unwilling to return the instrument, and the Bass of Doom quickly became the epicenter of an extensive legal battle.