Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 56: Freddy Villano

The American bassist Freddy Villano is best known for his stints with Quiet Riot (in a line-up with Kevin DuBrow, Frankie Banali and Carlos Cavazo) and Dee Snider’s Widowmaker. He now plays with The Rods. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson asked Freddy what five albums made him bang his head and join the brotherhood of metal.

Black Sabbath “Sabotage” (1975)

Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell” (1980)

“I’ll discuss both of these simultaneously because they both feature Geezer Butler, unless you believe some of Craig Gruber’s bass parts/tracks remain on ‘Heaven and Hell’, and they both share a similar origin story in my life. When I was between 6th and 7th grade, my sister, who is five years older than me, dated a guy who knew I was into KISS. So, one day he came over with these two records (yes, vinyl-era!) for me to check out. Incidentally, I was a drummer at the time, and Peter Criss was my hero, but that was about to change. These two records made me want to be a bass player. It was that simple, really. I used to sit for hours on end, poring over the album cover details while listening to these records and I still feel the same about them today as I did then. I think they are two of Sabbath’s finest moments.”

Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” (1982)

“My sister’s boyfriend strikes again! He asked my parents if he could take me to a concert, which would be my first. Iron Maiden at the now defunct North Stage Theater in Glen Cove on Long Island, New York. The Rods – who I now play with, coincidentally – were the opening act! My first-ever concert was Iron Maiden on ‘The Number of the Beast’ tour! I still can’t believe I saw Clive Burr live! There was something about the kinetic energy between him and Steve Harris that I don’t think Nicko McBrain was ever able to replicate, and so I’m going with this record over ‘Piece of Mind’ for that reason. Though ‘Piece of Mind’ has ‘Where Eagles Dare’, perhaps my favourite Maiden tune of all time.”

Rainbow “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow” (1975)

“Absolute underrated and essential listening for any would-be rock bass player. Craig Gruber’s playing is simply outstanding and ranks among the titans of rock as demonstrated by this list. Just listen to how he is able to improvise on a motif and continually develop an idea as he does with the bass line during Blackmore’s solo in ‘Snake Charmer’. It’s the kind of playing to aspire to. Simply brilliant.”

Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin II” (1969)

“Since this list essentially turned into my ‘top five essential albums for rock bass’, no list would be complete without John Paul Jones. This album features JPJ’s iconic performances on ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’, ‘Ramble On’, ‘Bring It On Home’ and of course, his epic tour de force, ‘The Lemon Song’. ‘Nuff said, really.”