JET HARRIS, 1939–2011

THE BASS WORLD SUFFERED ANOTHER BLOW WITH THE PASSING OF TERENCE “Jet” Harris, the original bassist for the Shadows.
By BassPlayer ,

THE BASS WORLD SUFFERED ANOTHER BLOW WITH THE PASSING OF TERENCE “Jet” Harris, the original bassist for the Shadows. After a two-year battle with cancer, the London-born musician died on March 18 at age 71. Jet notched up a wealth of hits in the late ’50s and early ’60s with Cliff Richard, as a solo artist, and as a duo with Tony Meehan. Harris was among the earliest British adopters of the electric bass (a Framus), and is often cited as the first U.K. bassist to get his hands on a Fender Precision. He was also a notable exponent of the Fender Bass VI.

Following a serious car accident in 1963, Jet struggled with depression and alcohol problems and dropped from the scene for 20 years—although he began touring and recording again in the ’80s, appearing live as recently as February. “British bass players of my generation learned everything they knew from him,” said ex-Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick. “We copied every note he played. His solo on “Nivram” [The Shadows, Columbia, 1961] was the first bass solo that any of us had ever heard, and 50 years later I can still play it. There were other bass players with other bands, but there was nobody as important as Jet.”

In 1998, Fender recognized Harris’s role in raising the bass guitar’s profile in Britain with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2010, Queen Elizabeth II presented him with an MBE for services to Music. —STEVIE GLASGOW