HG Thor Epoxy Fretless: Jaco Stories!

Jaco Stories
Contact Us

Friends of the Lab share their memories of Jaco encounters. Please send me yours if you have one! HG THOR

"In 1980 I bumped into Jaco a dozen or so times at studios and venues when I lived in Redondo Beach. At a NAMM show he invited me to spend the day with him and his wife Ingrid. He was very intense, yet totally effusive and generous as I quizzed him (he told me about Petits... showed me how he played stuff that I had worked out differently etc.). I played his bass (the doom one). The neck was loose and wobbly at the heel. One interesting thing I noticed about him was that he always walked very, very fast and held his bass in a stock Fender case at his side as though it didn't have a handle."
Skinny Bishop, AZ

"I met Jaco Pastorious in 1982, when I was living in NY, but still gigging a lot with the DC version of Air Apparent at the Wharf in Alexandria, VA. I met him through drummer Steve Williams, who had played a lot with Jaco and steel drum whiz Othello Molineaux at U of Miami. Jaco's Word of Mouth Band was playing at Blues Alley, and after our gig wrapped at the Wharf, Steve, bassist Ed Howard and I rolled over to Blues Alley to catch Jaco (having played there a few times, we got comped in naturally). Jaco's WOM band consisted of trumpeter Randy Brecker (who graced me with a burp at the bar), drummer Bob Moses (who I'd met previously through ex-girlfriend Paula Bondy), saxophonist Bob Mintzer (now with Yellowjackets), Othello Molineaux on steel drums and of course, Jaco, who played his trademark Fender Jazz and an Ampeg B-15, playing Jimi Hendrix (Third Stone) and whole lot of other great stuff -- Jaco was one of the few electric bassists (the late Vince Loving was another) who can really make the electric swing.
So whether they were playing Jimi tunes or straight-ahead, Jaco played completely tasteful and modern. After the gig we went to their hotel in Crystal City, VA. Jaco's brother had just gotten in a really bad motorcycle accident, so he wasn't in the best mood -- in fact, Ed mistakenly pronounced his first name with an over soft "j" and Jaco glared at him and said, "I ain't a French designer dude" -- looked like it was gonna get ugly but it didn't. Anyway, didn't really get to know Jaco, but felt like I'd met a modern day Mozart -- way ahead of his time and age!"
Armen Boyajian, GA

"I was playing a club, The Flying Machine, in Ft. Lauderdale back in spring 1971. As my band was finishing our sound check a guy came up to me (didn't introduce himself) to look at my factory-made '70 Fender Precision fretless which I had just recently purchased. He told me he had a fretless bass but had pulled the frets. Then my band left the club and I didn't hear the opening band do their sound check. Coming back a little early before our set, I met some people in the parking lot who were coming to see the opening act, a pickup (trio) band of local musicians. Going into the club, I went backstage and watched the opening band from behind. Now, I realize the bass player was surely Jaco although I didn't even know his name at the time. He even picked up our sax and played a solo!"
Gale Barchus, Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan

"I met Jaco in March 1975 through his first wife Tracy. Tracy was a waitress at a well known Fla. club at the time. I was in Fla. on spring break with some friends. I struck up a conversation with Tracy, and at some point said I just started to play bass. She said: "Come back tonight and meet my husband who is the best bassist in Florida."
So, later that night, I go back to the club. The band was on break when I walked in. Tracy comes by, sees me, and walks me backstage to me her husband. She says: "Jaco, this is Tom. He just started playing bass." I had never heard of Jaco before. We talked briefly: "...where you from, who you listen to, what type of bass you got?" Jaco, goes out to play his next set. !!!!!!!BOOM!!!!!!! To see Jaco live, for the first time? Its hard to explain. It was the same as seeing Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Led Zepplin, James Jamerson, Miles Davis... Just, One of a kind. The skill, tone, voice on his instrument. You knew you were seeing something new. After the set I simply say to him: "You are the best bassist I've ever seen." (A big smile from Jaco, and "thanks."}
Forward to Fall 1975, Boston (where I'm from). Pat Methany Trio is playing (Paul's Mall). I'm with my older brother who is a guitar player. I look at the bar and say to my brother: "That's the crazy bass player I met in Fla." We walk over to bar. Jaco sees me. Before I say a word, he says: "I remember you, Tom. Are you still playing bass?" (for real)
I saw Jaco a few more times "live" after that. (Weather Report, Word Of Mouth Band, Joni.) We never spoke again."
Tom Howland , Edgartown MA.

"In 1982, I had the great pleasure to meet Jaco Pastorius and his Word Of Mouth band members at a practise space in Manhattan. I was there recording with The Cerbonauts for about an hour when songwriter and lead vocalist Todd Bludeau mentioned he saw Jaco out in the hall. A bit nervous I slipped out there for a peek. There I saw the seated and sunlit orange haired head of Jaco himself (strange that the only sunbeam from the single-windowed and dusty wooden stairwell fell on him) with his mates standing around him. I approached him and said: "Hi. You're Jaco right?" (duh...) He says: "Yah man" with an big smile that beamed as bright as the light he was bathed in, and he introduced me to his band members. He said they were bone-ing up for the Blue Note gig that night. I nodded in approval while searching my brain for something to say. Then he said in a very earnest and interested way, his eyes fully alert: "So what do you play?" I humbly replied that I play guitar, with a bit of an "its nothing" inflection. Quickly changing the subject, I told him that I "really dug" his work with Weather Report and Joni etc. He simply smiled and nodded. There was one of those short awkward moments of silence when you are standing face to face with a legend where seconds are hours, my brain still refusing to come up with something intellegent, so I took that opportunity to say "Great meeting you" to which he responded quite careingly "Yah, you too man". I split in a gesture of giving the guy some space. (You may be wondering why I hadn't discussed epoxy fretless tech, but this occured at a time when I had made only one experimental epoxy converted bass, and hadn't yet considered lutherie as a business let alone assume I could offer Jaco any quality service he already had access to.) That recording of ours turned out fairly well inspired, and when we were done he and his band were gone. I consider myself fortunate to have had this honest and pleasant encounter, especially in the light of some of the stories that have painted him a negative light. I know in my heart I met the true Jaco who was kind, spirited and gracious. His body of work is a testament to his genius and hard work, and I am honored to offer this service which helps keep alive his unique and groundbreaking methodology on the bass. Enjoy!"
HG Thor

Back to top

Home |  Pictures | Sounds  | Fretlines |  Testimonials |  Pricing  | Contact Us

1998-2020 HG Thor Guitar Lab. All rights reserved. No reproduction or redistribution of text, pictures or sounds without written consent.

*  "It ain't bragging if you can back it up!" -Jaco Pastorius