I started on a Hofner President that I got second hand in Harrogate, UK, in 1961 for £30 and then got my first amp, an Antoria combo which came to a sad end when a dog peed into the rear port whilst I was at a bus stop.
Having left school for a job in a factory in Rugby, I joined a Shadows type band that did well enough for me to buy a Gibson EB-3, which played fine but the electrics were all over the place. Out of Rugby came my first Pro-band, Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours . I had to use a bass by our sponsors, Burns Guitars, which was a heavy thing that I didn’t like, especially as I had by then a Fender Precision. Then I got a second P-bass and, in accordance with the 60s, I had it painted in psychedelic colours.
In 1971 I moved to London and joined a rock ‘n roll band. Walking down Shaftesbury Avenue I stopped to stare at the front window of Sound City because there was this incredible looking instrument … I couldn’t believe the finish! The shop said it had come from Fender, unfinished and they had got a student from the London School of Furniture to give it a 1950′s style sunburst finish. This Fender Telecaster bass had a slab body and a maple neck, a well placed finger rest, wirewound Rotosounds and a high action that I liked …it stops you from becoming lazy. I bought it for £220 guineas and played it through a Park rig that involved a pair of 18″ speakers. After my Park endorsement ended I used a Fender Bassman.
With the success of Shakin’ Stevens, I got a beige coloured twin-horned Dan Electro which had a white plastic imitation leather edging and those cool lipstick pickups. It had a sound of its own but it just didn’t sound so good in the studio. I used it for gigs as it was smaller than the Fender and could be put in the car boot. Then I got a Gibson EB-1 violin bass that had a telescopic end pin for playing bass upright style. They were very rare to be seen, let alone purchase. It was cherry coloured, with a thin neck but sadly I don’t have it anymore but I did get another Gibson, an EB-3 like an SG and this, like a few of my basses, was sold by Gruhn’s in Nashville when I relocated from there to Manhattan where I now live.
My second favourite bass is my 1962 Fender Bass VI, a six stringed bass. These are sometimes referred to as ‘Tic-tac’ basses in Nashville. They are tuned like a six string guitar but are an octave lower. Jet Harris (Shadows) and Eric Haydock (Hollies) used them a lot. In country music, where double basses were common, the old AM radio band that was popular in the 50s and 60s was not able to reproduce the double bass, so this baritone guitar doubled up with a muted ‘tic tac’ sound. I’ve used mine on countless records, it really has a sound of its own and with its three pickups it has a great range too.
But the bass I always come back to, which has remained my Special One is the Fender Telecaster bass.
Here’s what you’ll find on wikipedia about Stuart…
Stuart Colman (born 19 December 1944, Harrogate, Yorkshire) into a well-known musical family, took up piano and bass guitar, and enjoyed his first taste of success when he joined Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours in 1966.
Three years later, the group evolved into The Flying Machine and their first single under that name, “Smile A Little Smile For Me”, made the top five in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, selling over two million copies. In 1976 Colman jointly organized a march to the BBC, protesting about the lack of rock and roll music on BBC Radio One. To his surprise, the corporation took him on as a presenter, headlining his own weekly show. Following the popularity of the programme, Epic Records brought Colman in to take over the production reins with rockabilly icon, Shakin’ Stevens. There were hits straight away with “Hot Dog” and “Marie, Marie” followed by a string of number ones including “This Old House”, “Green Door” and “Oh Julie”. His success story then crossed over into the global market place, where combined sales with Stevens alone went on to top 35 million units. During this busy period he was called upon to produce a wide range of artists, ranging from The Shadows to Paul Kennerley, and Claire Hamill to The Revillos.
In 1982, Colman was voted the top singles producer of the year by Music Week magazine.
Meanwhile, as a broadcaster, Colman was also hosting the highly-regarded Echoes on BBC Radio London, a unique forum with a guest list that included Sir Paul McCartney, Dr. John, Robert Plant and Steve Miller. He was also in demand as a journalist writing a weekly column for the Melody Maker, as well as authoring a best-selling book, They Kept On Rockin’. Colman extended his chart successes by creating hits for Kim Wilde, The Jets and Alvin Stardust, and he made albums with his boyhood idols, Phil Everly and Little Richard. Following his love of comedy recordings, Colman was asked by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton to produce the inaugural Comic Relief record, and “Living Doll”, featuring TV’s The Young Ones along with pop legend Cliff Richard, became another international #1.
In 1986, Colman opened his own Master Rock recording studio in London, fitting the A room out with the first Focusrite recording console, and the B room with a state-of the-art Solid State Logic. Apart from his own productions with Jeff Beck, The Inmates and Jane Harrison, the studio played host to Elton John, U2, Eric Clapton and Soul II Soul. Still pursuing his broadcasting career, Colman then joined London’s newly-launched Capital Gold, where he played his beloved rock and roll at the weekends and anchored the evening slot during the week. At the same time he was producing many major TV music specials for Central Television, where he worked with the likes of Natalie Cole, T’Pau, Nona Hendryx and Meat Loaf.
In 1995, geared by his love of American music, Colman decided to move with his family to Nashville, Tennessee where he went on to record with a wide variety of artists including Victoria Shaw, Nanci Griffith, The Crickets and Linda Gail Lewis. He began by arranging and producing the country demo of the Faith Hill smash “This Kiss”, then co-produced with Jim Ed Norman the original version of the Garth and Trisha duet, “Where Your Road Leads” by Victoria Shaw and Billy Dean. He delivered a well-received Texas-Swing album by Don Walser for Sire Records, as well as producing a fresh batch of tracks on The Osmond Brothers, a country album by Canadian diva Tracy Fidler, and the debut recordings by Brazilian newcomer, Leandro Beling.
In 2002, Colman was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and he was subjected to an intense course of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The experience cost him his marriage and he became, as he puts it, a born-again-bachelor. Even during this time he kept himself busy, writing liner notes for a great many CD’s, including a critically-acclaimed boxed set of Don Gibson recordings for Bear Family, and at the same time he maintained his long-running column for the monthly rock and roll magazine, Now Dig This. Following his recovery, Colman appeared in a movie depicting the life and times of Jack Clement, and he also reunited with Shakin’ Stevens playing bass on tours throughout Europe. In 2008, Colman returned to the studios of Nashville, directing his energies into developing a set of new artists including Kentucky-born Sulcer Evans, singer-songwriter, Seth Matthews, and British tunesmiths, Dean Johnson and Jenny Bolton. In the spring of 2009 Colman departed from Nashville for Manhattan, where he is currently writing a weekly blog for the Collective Review website . He is also pitching TV and film comedy scripts, and he continues to undertake selective production work.