Music woven into Lockie’s life

Performer: Bill Lockie performs at the Shuswap Pie Company. - Photo contributed
Performer: Bill Lockie performs at the Shuswap Pie Company.
— image credit: Photo contributed

For 55 years, the low rumbling tones of the bass guitar have been Bill Lockie’s muse.

Still an avid member of the bustling music community in Salmon Arm, Lockie has played with an impressive roster of musicians and at a number of events, most recently playing in the theatre production Django at the Shuswap Community Theatre.

It all began when he was in Grade 12 in Invermere.

“I heard a guy playing a guitar and he was singing country stuff, and I thought ‘wow, that’s really neat.’ So a friend of mine had a guitar and said ‘I’ll sell it to you for $20,’” said Lockie, noting that he’s mostly self taught but he took a few lessons here and there.

It wasn’t until 1963 when he took hold of the bass guitar. It started in Vancouver when he joined first band –The Chessman, who played early 60s rock and roll. The band needed a bass player, so Lockie took on the challenge of a new instrument –and it’s stuck ever since.

“I like a lot of things about playing music, I play every day, practice everyday and just enjoy the process. It has been constant,” said Lockie. “I liked the bass, the bottom end, low stuff, it’s got pulse. It helps solidify the rhythm, especial in jazz and rock and roll. The drummer and bass player work together to create a rhythmical feel.”

After spending a few years with The Chessman, ringing in a few number one hits in Vancouver and spending time recording in Tennessee, Lockie decided it was time for a move and in the 1970s, he made his home in Salmon Arm. He spent his time teaching math and working as an accountant, but he never stopped playing bass.

“When I moved to Salmon Arm, it kind of exploded,” Lockie says of his music.

Lockie, alongside Jim Johnston and Debbie Reid, made up the The Phantoms, a rock and roll band that focused their sounds on the 60s and 70s.

Since then, Lockie’s extensive music career has taken place with a variety of bands such as the gypsy group Gadjology, ShushManoushe, the Salmon Armenians and Jazz Handles. He’s also played with the likes of Vernon musicians Betty Johnson and Neil Fraser.

“Bands really aren’t bands anymore. It’s sort of all over the place,” said Lockie. “Somebody phones you and says hey, I’ve got a gig, and you play it.”

Lockie has also spend time teaching bass, playing weddings and spent years playing dance hall events in Salmon Arm.

The bass is something that will always remain a staple in Lockie’s life, until he “can’t do it anymore.”

Drawing his inspiration from bassists such as Ron Carter and Darren Hearding, multi-talented, Lockie also sings when he performs, but remains modest about his voice. His musical tastes range from rock and roll to Latin and his most favourite, jazz.

“I like all forms of music, I’ve played country music and folk music and even a little bit of classical, but jazz is probably my favourite form to play, swing jazz and Latin jazz,” he said.

His other, most recent, popular genre to play is gypsy. Lockie says it’s hard to explain.

“It’s very lively and energetic, usually the bands have at least two guitars and one of them is always playing rhythm and often there’s violin and clarinet,” he says. “It’s great fun, when you play it people in the audience really seem to enjoy it.”

When asked if there’s a highlight in his lengthy bass-playing career, Lockie can’t put his thumb on just one.

“There’s just too many,” said Lockie.

“Playing with the people around here is something I really like and enjoy doing, it’s always fun.”


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