Retro Dee is a regular contributor to The Grooveyard’s website, writing about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.
Today we remember the very best bassist of early Rock N Roll: Joe B. Mauldin.
Joseph Benson Mauldin Jr. was born on July 8, 1940 in Lubbock, TX. It was at Lubbock Junior High that he learned to play several instruments including the steel guitar. By the age of 15, he joined his first band called “The Four Teens.” However, Joe B. Mauldin will always be most well-known for being an original member of one of the most popular bands of the 1950’s: The Crickets.
Mr. Mauldin was just 16 when he joined Jerry Allison, Niki Sullivan and Rock icon Buddy Holly in the group that would go down in Rock N Roll history. The four Crickets recorded some of the most classic hits of all time in Clovis, New Mexico at Petty Studios. By 1957, The Crickets were a world-wide sensation with their number-one hits which included: “That’ll Be The Day”, “Oh Boy!”, “Not Fade Away”, “It’s So Easy!” and “I’m Looking For Someone To Love”.
Mr. Mauldin played alongside his band members at the Apollo and on The Ed Sullivan Show, to just name a few prestigious gigs. In 1958, he went to London with bandmates Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison. In early photos of The Crickets, young Joe is seen plucking at his double stand-up bass in a suit and tie, appearing no older than the boy you might have had a crush on in 9th grade Biology class. But his boyish good-looks were not what had the world smitten. It was his incredible talent in both instrument playing and song-writing that impressed fans the most.
Mr. Mauldin remained a member of The Crickets throughout his life. In later years he switched from the stand-up bass to a Fender Precision Bass guitar. He worked as an audio engineer at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, one of the major hit factories in the industry.
His lifetime of achievement in Rock N Roll included induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, The West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock, and The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio (with The Crickets).
Mr. Mauldin passed away at the age of 74 on February 7, 2015: fifty-six years to the day of bandmate Buddy Holly’s funeral in 1959.
As a fan who promotes the immortality 1950’s era, I will always think of Joe B. Mauldin as the phenomenally talented, boyish-looking bassist of The Crickets. And as The Crickets’ bassist, he was not only the icing on the cake; he was a vital ingredient that made up what will always be one of the very best bands of all time.
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