Jaco Pastorius Biography (BBC)
In his short life, Pastorius elevated the bass guitar into a major jazz instrument. He grew up in Florida, and after starting out on drums, took up bass when he hurt his arm in a football accident. Soon he was accompanying visiting musicians to his home state, but by the mid 1970s was working at a national level with pianist Paul Bley and guitarist Pat Metheny, playing on Metheny's celebrated album Bright Size Life.
In 1976, he joined the fusion band Weather Report, and his bass-playing became an integral part of its sound, in concert and on albums such as Heavy Weather and Night Passage. As well as pulsating basslines, he played dazzling solos in the higher register, with a thin, nasal tone that contrasted to the thumping drive of his ensemble playing.
He also included chords and harmonics that gave his contribution to the band a rich texture. He played both the fretted and fretless bass guitar, but his playing was always notable for its incredible accuracy and rhythmic drive. He was a very flamboyant personality on stage, and not all the band's fans liked his posturing and the way he milked audiences for applause.
In the early 1980s he formed his own band Word of Mouth, with which he recorded and played concert tours. The final years of his life involved problems with drugs and alcohol, and he died needlessly in a brawl at a Florida nightclub. Nevertheless, in less than a decade he had transformed his instrument from the backbone of the rhythm section into a solo force.
Jaco Pastorius Biography (Wikipedia)
John Francis Anthony "Jaco" Pastorius III (December 1, 1951 – September 21, 1987) was an American jazz bassist who was a member of Weather Report from 1976 to 1981. He worked with Pat Metheny and Joni Mitchell, and recorded albums as a solo artist and band leader. His bass playing employed funk, lyrical solos, bass chords, and innovative harmonics. As of 2017, he is the only electric bassist of seven bassists inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame, and has been lauded as one of the best electric bassists of all time.
Pastorius suffered from drug addiction and mental health problems throughout his professional life, and despite his widespread acclaim had problems over the latter part of his life holding down jobs due to his unreliability. In frequent financial trouble, he was often homeless throughout the mid 1980s. In 1987, he got into a fight outside of a music club in South Florida and died as result of injuries sustained in the fight.
After his death, his work continued to influence musicians, being elected to the DownBeat Hall of Fame in 1988. He was the subject of the 2014 documentary film Jaco.
Jaco Pastorius Tracks