Tony Franklin (musician)

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Tony Franklin
Birth name Anthony James Franklin
Also known as The Fretless Monster
Born (1962-04-02) 2 April 1962 (age 54)
Derby, England
Genres Hard rock, blues-rock, folk rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Bass, double bass, fretless bass, keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
Years active 1982–present
Associated acts Roy Harper, The Firm, Jimmy Page, Blue Murder, Quiet Riot, Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Website Official website
Notable instruments
Tony Franklin Signature Fretless Precision Bass, Tony Franklin Signature Fretted Precision Bass

Anthony James "Tony" Franklin (born 2 April 1962) is an English rock musician, best known for his work on the fretless bass guitar with Roy Harper, The Firm, Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers, John Sykes' Blue Murder, David Gilmour, Kate Bush, Whitesnake, and most recently with Kenny Wayne Shepherd.


Born into a musical family, Franklin first took the stage at age 5. He got his big break in 1984 as bassist in stellar supergroup the Firm, with guitar legend Jimmy Page, vocalist Paul Rodgers and drummer Chris Slade (AC/DC, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band). Franklin’s signature fretless growl was a distinctive and instantly recognizable element of the band’s first hit, "Radioactive". [1]

After two hit albums with The Firm, Franklin subsequently performed with Blue Murder (John Sykes, Carmine Appice), David Gilmour, Kate Bush, Whitesnake, Donna Lewis, Pat Travers and many others. An in-demand session bass ace, he has appeared on more than 150 albums. Franklin has released two solo albums, Brave New Tomorrow and Wonderland, and a bass instructional DVD.

Further, Franklin’s exemplary chops have also been called on for dozens of television credits, including the Late Show with David Letterman, Beverly Hills 90210, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Good Morning America, Top of the Pops (U.K.), VH-1, MTV, Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush (Finland), dozens of Japanese programs and more. Sony released Tony Franklin: Not Just Another Pretty Bass, Franklin’s first sample loop library, in 2006.[2]

While maintaining his music career, from September 2003 through July 2011, Franklin served as Artist Relations Manager for Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and SWR. He returned to music performance full-time in mid-2011, when he joined Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s band for the tour supporting the guitarist’s 2011 album, How I Go.[3] Franklin can be heard on Shepherd’s new album, “Goin’ Home”, released in Summer 2014.

2015 saw Franklin recording and touring with Heart Of Storm, live Russian Rock Ballet - with world class Russian ballet, and live rock band featuring Doug Aldrich, Gregg Bissonette, Derek Sherinian, Brent Woods and Brandon Fields. A Live DVD was shot at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. More live dates are expected in 2016.

Franklin closed the summer of 2015 touring with Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band opening for Van Halen, culminating with two shows at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

With a bass instrumental album nearing completion, an educational app and video series, Master Classes and counseling, constant writing, touring and recording, Franklin says: “I’ve only just begun!”

Fretless bass[edit]

He is credited with introducing the fretless bass to the hard rock and heavy metal audiences, as the fretless bass is not commonly heard in these genres. This has earned Franklin the nickname of “Fretless Monster”.

In January 2006 Fender introduced the Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass, a distinctive instrument, with an alder body and modern C-shaped maple neck with an unfinished and unfretted ebony fingerboard with side dot position markers. Other features include vintage tuners, Hipshot Bass Xtender drop-D tuner on the E string, and three-way pickup selector switch that controls an American Series Precision Bass mid pickup and a Tony Franklin signature Jazz Bass bridge pickup with hex-screw pole pieces and ceramic bar magnets.[4]

Other career highlights[edit]

Although mostly known for his fretless work, Franklin’s been doing sessions with the same fretted Precision Bass for many years. Fender released the Tony Franklin Fretted Precision Bass in 2008, a replica of the instrument used throughout his career. The signature fretted bass is similar to his fretless model, with Precision and Jazz Bass pickups and a three-way selector switch that provide an array of tones.[5]

Prior to his work with The Firm, Franklin toured and recorded with English folk/rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, Roy Harper, appearing on eight of his albums between 1982 and 2013.[6]

In 1996, Franklin played on long-time friend, Donna Lewis's album "Now in a Minute”, which spawned the worldwide smash hit single “I Love You Always Forever".[7][8] Substantial touring followed the release of the single throughout the U.S., U.K., Japan, Europe and Canada.

In 1997, Franklin toured the world with Whitesnake as part of the "Last Hurrah" tour.[9]

Franklin has also appeared on all seven of keyboardist Derek Sherinian's solo albums - Planet X (1999), Inertia (2001), Black Utopia (2003), Mythology (2004), Blood of the Snake (2006), Molecular Heinosity (2009), and Oceana (2011)

Franklin cites John Deacon, Paul McCartney, James Jamerson and Jaco Pastorius as his main influences.[10]

In 2014 Tony formed "Rated X" with Carmine Appice on drums, Joe Lynn Turner on vocals and Karl Cochran on Guitar



  1. ^ "Tony Franklin Biography". Tony Franklin official website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  2. ^ "Sony Creative Software: Tony Franklin - Not Just Another Pretty Bass". Sony Creative Software official website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  3. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Biography". Kenny Wayne Shepherd official website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  4. ^ "Fender Products: Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass". Fender Musical Instrument Corp official website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  5. ^ "Fender Products: Tony Franklin Fretted Precision Bass". Fender official website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  6. ^ "Roy Harper Discography". Roy Harper official website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  7. ^ "Donna Lewis Discography". Donna Lewis official website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  8. ^ " - I Love You Always Forever Listening & Stats". music website. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  9. ^ "Deep Purple.Net - Whitesnake History". Deep Purple.Net. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  10. ^ Epstein, Dmitry M. (September 2000). "Interview with Tony Franklin". Retrieved 2010-11-21. 

External links[edit]