Ethan Farmer has already packed more into his career than most bass players manage in a lifetime. Nick Wells meets a true one-off.

Mention Lionel Richie and many people will immediately picture the Motown legend strutting his stuff onstage to a thunderstorm of flashing lights. But if you’re a bass player, the enduring image of the superstar singer is probably of a live-wire Ethan Farmer grooving effortlessly, the unsung hero in the background who’s helping put bass back on the agenda. Aside from his tenure with Richie, Ethan’s desire to experience and play as many different styles as he can – “variety is the spice of my musical life” – has seen him build up an impressive client list, including the likes of Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera and New Kids on the Block. It would seem that the future of bass playing is in safe hands.