Doug Rauch was a legendary bass player who left an indelible mark on the world of music. As a bassist, I’ve always been in awe of his exceptional talent and unique style that he brought to the table. He was a virtuoso who had the ability to blend his technical proficiency with a deep understanding of the groove, while equally contributing to the harmonic and melodic aspects of the music he was playing. His contributions to
jazz-fusion and funk have been nothing short of remarkable and his impact on my playing cannot be overstated enough.
Even though Doug sadly passed away in 1979 – at only 29 years old – he was known for working with some of the biggest names in the business, including Santana, John McLaughlin, Lenny White and Billy Cobham. His tenure with Santana was particularly significant as he was part of the iconic band during its most innovative and creative musical period. He played on several of their classic albums including “Caravanserai”, “Welcome” and “Lotus.” His contributions to these albums were essential to their success and helped to establish Santana as one of the leading voices in the fusion genre. This was followed up by playing on the classic collaboration between John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana entitled, “Love, Devotion & Surrender” which was dedicated to John Coltrane.
In addition to his flexibility with traditional playing styles, Rauch was also known for his skill as a slap bass player. He was one of the early pioneers of this style and his playing was both technically developed and musically accomplished. His ability to incorporate the slap bass style into his playing added a new dimension to his already list of impressive abilities and he was always able to blend his technical prowess along with his exceptional musicianship. He had a unique way of playing that was both supportive and soloistic at the same time and always seemed to find the perfect balance between the two, while effortlessly switching between jazz, rock, funk and Latin grooves.
In addition to his work with Santana, Doug Rauch was also an important member of Lenny White’s jazz-fusion band. Lenny was one of the most innovative drummers of the 70’s and Doug’s playing was the perfect compliment to his style. The two of them had a telepathic connection and their playing was always in perfect sync. Together, they created one of the most unique rhythm sections that became an important part of the 70s jazz-fusion scene, which was well documented on the track “Chicken Fried Steak”, from the iconic Lenny White album, “Venusian Summer.”
Doug also had the opportunity to play with another jazz-fusion legend, drummer Billy Cobham. This collaboration can be heard on the album “Life & Times”, which was a landmark release in the fusion world. One of the highlights of “Life & Times” is the track “On a Natural High,” which showcase’s Doug’s slap bass playing. His groove was in full display and created a vibe that was both energetic, musical and other worldly for the time. His playing on this track was a testament to his mastery of the bass guitar and his ability to always bring new ideas to the table. Remember, this was 1976! You will definitely hear that many bass players such as Stanley Clarke, Alphonso Johnson and Marcus Miller were influenced by Doug’s playing.
Doug’s influence on my own playing cannot be overstated. I always admired his ability to create a solid foundation for the rest of the band to build on while still making his own parts an integral part of the music. Over the years, I have incorporated many of his techniques and ideas into my own playing and can honestly say that his influence has had a profound impact on my bass playing.
All in all, Doug Rauch was a true legend in the world of bass playing. His exceptional talent and unique style made him one of the most sought-after bassists of his generation, although it was short lived due to his untimely passing. His contributions to the music will always be remembered and his impact on my playing will never be forgotten. Doug may no longer be with us, but his legacy will live on through the music that he helped to create.