When Senator Jeff Flake decided to get into the bass music business in 2002, he was already the king of bass, according to bass pro leed drummer Tom Wilson.
“I was the king,” Wilson said in an interview.
“I had the bass keys.
I was the biggest bass player in the world.”
When Flake, a Democrat, first joined the Bass Pro Shops in 1986, it was a rare opportunity to make a buck in the business.
At the time, bass was still a niche genre.
“In those days, it had a big, big niche in the music industry,” Wilson recalled.
“We had to play a lot of things with a lot more power than we had.”
“It was really hard work,” Wilson added.
“But I think what happened was that when the industry started to take off, the bass became a bigger part of the music business.”
The bass industry in the US is huge, with more than $8 billion in annual sales.
But in 2002 — the year the first bass pro tour was held — the US had only four bass players.
And only one of them was an active bass player: Wilson.
That’s why, in 2002 the bass pro business exploded in the United States, with thousands of young players getting their first gigs.
“It was kind of a game changer in the industry,” said Wilson.
In the mid-aughts, a few years after Flake was elected to Congress, the Bass Pros of the world began to grow.
“There was a lot happening in the bass world, and the Bass Players Association was formed,” Wilson explained.
The Bass Pro Players Association (BPPA) began in 2002.
The BPPA has been a key player in bringing new bass players into the world of music.
And Wilson, now the president of the BPPA, says the association has had a “huge impact” on the future of the bass.
“It’s not only what we do, it’s what we believe,” Wilson told CNN.
“The BPPA is a place that I want to continue to be a part of.”
Wilson is the former bass pro who helped shape bass music in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when the genre was growing in popularity.
His career began in a small recording studio in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a young musician.
“My first job was working on records,” Wilson recalls.
“You would record one or two songs and then you would have a couple weeks off.
That was the way it was.
You’d go out there and record some music and then come back and record something else.”
Wilson and his brother Mike started recording music in 1991 at their parents’ recording studio.
“When we got started, we had no equipment.
We used the old tape decks, the old monitors, and everything that we had,” Wilson explains.
“So we were kind of stuck.”
That’s when the idea for a record label came to the brothers.
“A lot of times you’d record the same songs on the same day and you’d come back, you’d be like, ‘Oh, it worked,'” Wilson recalls with a laugh.
“And we were like, no, that’s just not how it works.”
So Wilson decided to try to record his own songs.
And in 1992, he formed a band, The Bass Pro Leeds.
The Leeds became a staple of the underground bass scene in the early ’00s.
Their first album, 1991’s Bait, reached No. 4 on the Billboard charts.
The Leeds released two more albums, 1992’s In the Name of the King and 1993’s Bass Pro Hustle.
The Bait album became a hit.
“People would come in and they’d be singing along to us,” Wilson remembers.
“They’d be dancing.
We were like: What are you doing?
We had a lot to prove.”
The Leens released their fifth album, Bass Pro Pro Hustler, in 1993.
In 1994, they teamed up with local producer, DJ, and producer extraordinaire Steve Dickson.
“He was the only producer I had,” says Wilson.
“All the other producers were dead.”
Wilson went on to work with Steve Denton, then a record producer for a local record label.
“That was the beginning of the end,” Wilson says.
“Steve Dickson was the next guy in the line of succession to me.
I went from a young bass player to a seasoned producer.”
The Bass Pros went on a major tour of the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, and other countries, and became famous in the underground.
They were invited to the White House for a press conference.
“The White House was one of the best places to be in America, and Steve Dolan had just been elected as president,” Wilson shares.
“His first message to the world was, ‘You have to come see us.'”
The first White House press conference was in 1995.
The first bass