The Bass Player

Scott Westerman
3 min readAug 9, 2021

Stan Lark died on August 4, 2021. It was just a footnote for many. But if you listened to the radio in the 1960s, Stan Lark was likely at the center of your consciousness.

Stan was the bass player for Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. That’s his bottom end on the George Tomsco-penned guitar instrumental tracks; Torquay, Bulldog, Yacky Doo, Rik-A-Tik, Panic Button, Footpatter, Vaquero, Chief Whoopin’ Koff, Quite A Party, Gunshot, and many others. His best known work was with Jimmy Gilmer, where his distinctive bass line kicked off the opening to Sugar Shack, Bottle of Wine and Come On React.

Lark was a southwestern precursor to a Motown Funk Brother, playing on tracks recorded at Norman Petty’s Clovis NM studio, including overdubs that filled out Buddy Holly’s early rehearsal and home demo recordings in the early ’60s.

The Fireballs took their name from the Jerry Lee Lewis‘ hit, “Great Balls of Fire“, and created a Tex/Mex sound that became popular in their neck of the woods. When Jimmy Gilmer took over lead vocals in 1961 and the band moved to the Dot label a year later, Petty rebranded the band with Gilmer’s name up front.

Dik de Heer picks up the tale in This is My Story, first published in the Yahoo Shankin’ All Over group. “Late in 1962 Jimmy Gilmer got a song from Keith McCormack, a member of the String-A-Longs, who also recorded guitar…