Trujillo selflessly supported the family by making available to them the funds necessary to resolve the matter. The case was settled in late March in New York, and Johnny and Felix, armed with Pastorius’ original double Anvil touring case, soon traveled there to reclaim their father’s bass.
Although Trujillo currently owns the instrument, the Metallica bassist agreed in writing to relinquish the instrument to the family at any time for the same purchase price. According to Bobbing, the family corporation’s liaison to the law firm of Kilpatrick Stockton, Trujillo additionally made several other warranties in the purchase agreement rider that completely established that he had the best interests of Jaco and of the Pastorius family in mind.
“I’m never going to single-handedly feel like I have the ultimate right to it,” says Trujillo. “I feel like myself and the family share its voice in a way. Ultimately, I think we all agree that we’d like to see this legendary bass in a museum.”
For most, the legend began in earnest in 1976, when Pastorius released his groundbreaking eponymous solo debut. Jaco Pastorius was a landmark work still considered one of the greatest if not the greatest bass album ever recorded. His subsequent influential work with Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell and Weather Report, in addition to other solo work and many other guest appearances, have left behind an enduring legacy. One can only speculate on the heights he would have achieved had he not met a tragic and untimely fate at age 35 in September 1987.
As for the bass guitar on which he built such a legacy, well, that is a story in itself. How Pastorius transformed a $90 pawnshop find into the stuff of legend may yet be the topic of a future documentary film.
Nicknamed by Pastorius himself, the Bass of Doom was a stock 1962 Fender Jazz Bass, purchased at a pawnshop in the early 1970s. Pastorius originally removed the frets with a butter knife, filling the slots and missing chunks with “plastic wood” and covering the fingerboard with several coats of boat epoxy. This “customized” bass would be the only fretless instrument Pastorius would ever record with.
“Jaco played his fretless like a surfer rides a surfboard,” says Trujillo. “He became one with his instrument — gracefully navigating through the unknown. I think where he shines most brightly is with that fretless voice. Just the mere fact that he ripped his frets out of the board himself to get that growl shows he was actually committed to the art of the fretless bass. He was a pioneer; an innovator; and he took that melodic voice on the fretless bass to incredible heights. There’s not a bass player on the planet that would not respect or acknowledge that.”