About Chip Shearin
Chip Shearin is a highly recognized bass player, composer and an astonishing record producer. On top of performing and producing, he runs KEO Music Recordings, an indie label distributed by Warner Bros.
Most people have at some point in their life heard Chip Shearin's tantalizing bass playing on the rap landmark "Rapper's Delight" by Sugarhill Gang. Just 17 years old, Shearin played the song's bass line on the recording. Originally composed by Chic bassist Bernard Edwards, it's one of the most recognizable bottom ends in all of popular music. Released in 1979, it was the first rap song to get mainstream air play and launched an entire genre.
Chip, a native of North Carolina, calls Los Angeles, California
home but still enjoys his roots in North Carolina. He studied music at Duke University as well as the Manhattan School of Music. Shearin has taught in the music department at N.C. Central University and also lectures about the business of music at colleges across the country.
Shearin's part in "Rapper's Delight" was a total coincidence, but it was the spark that ignited a long successful career. He was on his way to music school, visiting a friend in New Jersey, who knew a studio owner named Sylvia Robinson. Robinson did a lot of R&B recording sessions at her studio and needed players, so Shearin was asked if he was interested in earning some extra cash. His job was to lay down the groove from the Chic song "Good Times" for an unheard-of 15 minutes straight, with no mistakes; a challenging task - and remember, this was before samplers! - but he was thrilled with the $70 he made for it.
The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame has acknowledged "Rapper's Delight" a number of times, including it in an exhibit called "Roots Rhyme & Rage: The Hip Hop Story", and hosting a 30th anniversary concert. Chip's story and the bass played during that session have also become part of the main Rock Hall Exhibit. In Rolling Stone Magazine's 2004 listing of "Greatest Songs of All Time", the song came in at no. 248. This past year "Rapper's Delight" was added to the U.S. National Archives Recording Registry - the highest honor for a song.
When asked what the song has meant for his career, Shearin says, 'For the sake of musical value to me, that was absolutely zero. I wanted to be Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke, so the last thing I wanted to be known for was playing that song." Financially, Shearin never made anything more than that original $70 off of "Rapper's Delight," but he explains that, through his career, the song has been a nice calling card.
Shearin played a few live dates backing up Sugarhill Gang after "Rapper's Delight" and went on to a solid career as a traveling session bassist, playing and recording with many pop and jazz artists such as Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Faith Evans, Michael Bolton, George Howard, Kirk Whalum, Bob Baldwin, Marion Meadows, Bob James, Steve Reid, Howard Hewitt, Phil Perry, Special EFX, Jeff Kashiwa, Ceilli Minuchi, Polina, Pieces of a Dream and YahZarah.
The latest project in Chip's amazing career has been providing the music and laying down the bass for the trailers and various fight scenes in Iron Man 3.
Chip needs his gear to be as flexible as possible for both stage and studio use. He found that in the RH750 head along with RS410 and RS210 cabinets: 'It's got the flexibility to be set up any way you need - I can't think of a room where you couldn't play with this.'