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Tony Franklin (musician)

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Tony Franklin
Franklin in 2012
Background information
Birth nameAnthony James Franklin
Also known asThe Fretless Monster
Born (1962-04-02) 2 April 1962 (age 62)
Derby, England
GenresHard rock, blues-rock, folk rock, heavy metal, progressive rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Bass, fretless bass, keyboards, synthesizers, vocals, guitar
Years active1982–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Anthony James 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, Lou Gramm, Gary Hoey[1] and most recently with Kenny Wayne Shepherd.


Born into a musical family, Franklin first took the stage at age of five. He got his big break in 1984 as bassist in the supergroup The Firm, with Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers and Chris Slade.

Franklin's television credits include 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. Franklin can be heard on Shepherd's album, "Goin' Home", released in Summer 2014.[3]

Signature instruments[edit]

Franklin is mostly known for his work on fretless bass. In January 2006 Fender introduced the Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass,[4] 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, with a Hipshot Bass Xtender drop-D tuner on the E string, a three-way pickup selector switch that controls, an American Series Precision Bass mid pickup, and Franklin's signature Jazz Bass bridge pickup with hex-screw pole pieces and ceramic bar magnets.[4]

Besides his fretless bass, Franklin has been doing sessions with the same fretted Precision Bass for many years. From 2008 to 2015, Fender offered a fretted version of Franklin's signature Precision Bass based on his particular instrument. Frets aside, it is very similar to the fretless model, with the same Precision and Jazz Bass pickups and three-way selector switch.

Other career highlights[edit]

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.[5]

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".[6] 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.[7]

Franklin cites John Deacon, Paul McCartney, James Jamerson and Jaco Pastorius as his main influences.[8]


In a 2023 interview, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament cited Franklin as an influence concerning Ament's use of a slide harmonic on the hit song "Even Flow". "I knew at the beginning of Pearl Jam that the way Stone was writing, it was very Jimmy Page – very riffy. And because of Tony Franklin, I knew that fretless would add a really cool voice and texture to rock music. So that harmonic, I'm kind of ripping The Firm's 'Radioactive.' And I figured it out by accident. I was always obsessed with playing harmonics on bass, but at some point I remember accidentally hitting harmonics and sliding on it, so I started experimenting with that part of it. So mistakes, and also having in the back of my head that sound of 'Radioactive.' Hats off Tony Franklin!"[9]



  1. ^ "ABOUT". Lougrammofficial.com.
  2. ^ "Sony Creative Software: Tony Franklin – Not Just Another Pretty Bass". Amazon. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd album: How I Go". Kenny Wayne Shepherd official website. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Fender Products: Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass". Fender Musical Instrument Corp official website. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Roy Harper Discography". Roy Harper official website. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Donna Lewis Discography". Donna Lewis official website. Archived from the original on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Deep Purple.Net – Whitesnake History". Deep Purple.Net. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  8. ^ Epstein, Dmitry M. (September 2000). "Interview with Tony Franklin". Dmme.net. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  9. ^ Prato, Greg (11 July 2023). "Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, Deaf Charlie: Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved 24 July 2023.

External links[edit]