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Exploding into the jazz world in 1971, Stanley was a lanky teenager from the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He arrived in New York City and immediately landed jobs with famous bandleaders such as: Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, and a budding young pianist composer named Chick Corea. The opportunity to state melody and to propel the bass to the front of the concert stage came to fruition when Clarke and Corea formed the seminal electric jazz/fusion band Return to Forever. RTF was a showcase for each of the quartet's strong musical personalities, composing prowess, and instrumental voices. Clarke surmised, "we really didn't realize how much of an impact we were having on people at the time. We were touring so much then, we would just make a record and go back on the road." The band recorded eight albums, two of which were certified gold (the wildly successful Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy and the classic Romantic Warrior), won a Grammy award (No Mystery) and received numerous nominations while touring incessantly. And this was a jazz band!
Then Stanley, his now famous Alembic bass in hand, fired the shot heard 'round the world'. He single-handedly started the 1970s "bass revolution," paving the way for all bassist/soloist/bandleaders to follow. In 1974 he released his eponymous Stanley Clarke album, which featured a hit 45rpm "single" (we're still talking about jazz here,) titled "Lopsy Lu." In 1976 Stanley released School Days, of which the title track is now a bona fide bass anthem. Stanley Clarke became the first bassist in history to headline tours, selling out shows worldwide, and have his albums certified gold. The word "legend" was used to describe Stanley by the time he was 25 years old. In 1997 Epic/Sony released: By this tender young age, Stanley was already a celebrated pioneer in fusion jazz music. He was also the first bassist in history to double on acoustic and electric bass with equal virtuosity, power, and fire.
Now king of the acoustic and electric jazz worlds, in 1981 Stanley teamed with George Duke to form the Clarke/Duke Project. Together they scored a top-twenty pop hit with "Sweet Baby," recorded three albums and still tour to this day. Stanley's involvement in additional projects as leader or active member include: Jeff Beck (world tours, 1979), Keith Richards' New Barbarians (world tour, 1980), Animal Logic (with Stewart Copeland, two albums and tours, 1989), The "Superband"(with Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Najee, and Deron Johnson, 1993-94), The Rite of Strings (with Jean Luc Ponty and Al Dimeola, 1995), Vertu' (with Lenny White, 1999). A much more detailed listing of Stanley Clarke's bands can be found in Discography. Clarke has won literally every major award available to a bass player: Grammys, Emmys, every readers' poll out there, all the critics' polls, gold and platinum records, walks of fame- you name it. He was Rolling Stone's very first Jazzman of the Year, and bassist winner of Playboy's Music Award for ten straight years.
Ever seeking new challenges, in 1985 Stanley turned his boundless creative energy to film and television scoring. Starting on the small screen with an Emmy nominated score for Pee Wee's Playhouse, he progressed onto the silver screen as composer, orchestrator, conductor and performer of scores for such blockbuster films as: Boys N the Hood, What's Love Got to Do With It (the Tina Turner Story), Passenger 57, Higher Learning, Poetic Justice, Panther, The Five Heartbeats, Little Big League, and Romeo Must Die. He has even scored a Michael Jackson video release directed by Jon Singleton entitled Remember the Time. Currently his scoring may be heard on the number one rated show for the Showtime Network: Soul Food.