ORLANDO, Fla. – From a 70s funk band, to an 80s southern rock band and the last 23 years in an English blues rock band, Bryan Bassett’s guitar chops have probably made you get up a dance at one time or another.
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bassett was surrounded by incredible musicians in a city where jazz flourished in the 40s and 50s expanding to an incredible nightlife scene full of clubs and lounges belting sounds of rock-and-roll and funk from every entrance.
Bassett found music in his hands as a young teen one Christmas morning opening presents in his childhood home.
“It was a Harmony Rocket, a big red guitar with white knobs,” Bassett said. “Santa Claus, you know, my parents had bought me that and two Jeff Beck records. I mean talk about putting up a hard thing to follow, but yeah, I loved it.”
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Bassett’s love for guitars grew more and more. Like something out of “A Christmas Story” the young musician had a Ralphie moment. Unlike the movie where Ralphie sees the Red Ryder B.B. Gun in the window at Higbee’s, Bassett said he remembers clearly seeing one guitar he just had to have.
“I used to take a bus downtown after school and to Lomakin music shop in downtown Pittsburgh and a Les Paul gold top hung in that window and I literally (said) ‘One day you will be mine,’” Bassett said.
Working in a grocery store all summer the eager 17-year-old saved every penny he could. Bassett said his dad pitched in half of the money and he was able to buy his first great guitar.
Bassett’s first break into music happened after his friend Rob Parissi decided to disband a group called Wild Cherry, known now as the early version of the band, and decided to manage a few restaurants.
“I said, ‘Rob, if you ever get back in the music business, give me a call,’” Bassett said. “After about a couple of months, I guess he got sick of the restaurant business and he called me up and said ‘OK, Brian, you know what, I’m going to put together a new version of Wild Cherry and so we started.’”
It was that band that gave us the dance hit “Play that Funky Music” that’s still played for its feel-good vibrations today. You know that iconic opening riff that the song is known for? That’s right, Bassett is responsible for that!
Over the years, all roads led to Florida and eventually, Bassett decided to take a break as he embarked on this move. He started working odd jobs and even did television repair at a Radio Shack while living in Daytona Beach.
It was in Central Florida where Bassett met Dave Peverett, known as Lonesome Dave, who was the original lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the rock band Foghat. Bassett and Peverett became close friends and bandmates while Foghat had been on a brief hiatus. It was when they returned with all the original members that Bassett was out of a job and his friend Danny Joe Brown, who was the lead singer for the southern rock group Molly Hatchet, asked him if he wanted to join their band. Bassett recorded three albums with Molly Hatchet and toured not only in the States but abroad as well.
Bassett spent a little over seven years with Molly Hatchet, but one phone call from a dear friend changed his musical path and ultimately led him back to Foghat — where he’s been part of the family for over 23 years.
Bassett has so many amazing stories in this episode of Riff On This, that we can’t possibly cover them in this article. They range from the wild story about how the song “Play That Funky Music” was created to playing in two bands at one time and even walking into the wrong dressing room while on tour.
Hear all about his journey plus more on the incredible friendship he and Lonesome Dave had that led him to his Foghat family by clicking on the media player above or streaming this episode on your favorite podcast platform.