In late February, Mark Tulin, who helped found 1960s act The Electric Prunes and played bass for The Smashing Pumpkins, passed away at age 62. Now, his friends and bandmates recount just how much Tulin meant to them.
Photo of Tulin with Billy Corgan courtesy of Wikipedia.org
Tulin played bass for The Electric Prunes, who had hits with “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night” and “Get Me To The World On Time” in the late 1960s, and who reunited in the 1990s for a number of shows. Tulin also became well-known for his bass work with The Smashing Pumpkins, with whom he played on Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Volume 1: Songs for a Sailor, as well as performing a number of live shows in 2009 and 2010 with the band.
Ysanne Spevack played violin for The Smashing Pumpkins with Tulin in the 2000s. Here, she says a few words about her late bandmate:
Mark Tulin was a stellar bassist.
In the studio, he was disciplined and simultaneously relaxed, resulting in his rare ability to nail a bassline while retaining the inner grooviness of the pocket. On stage, he was solid, dependable and super fun. With his trademark top hat jauntily on the side, Mark had an infectiously easy manner that rolled from the stage.
It was truly a pleasure to see him beautifully share choice morsels from his long career with Mike Byrne, the Smashing Pumpkins drummer who was 19 when they met. It’s rare for rock music elders to have the opportunity to pass on their experience in such an intimate and egalitarian way. It’s a true testament to the Smashing Pumpkins’ revolutionary approach that stage and studio were shared by these two men at opposite ends of their careers.
Only Mark knows how he’d like to be remembered, but I guess I’ll remember his generosity of spirit, his integrity, his disarming smile, and his intricately groovy bass lines. What a diamond.”
Kevin Dippold worked with Tulin as a producer and fellow musician. Here are his thoughts on Tulin:
Mark was a great friend who was always kind. He was a role model with a wealth of knowledge about life, music, and 60s psychedelic rock. I was fortunate enough to work with Mark on at least 300 songs over the last 4 years while working at Kerry Brown’s lush recording studio on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. During my tenure there, I recorded Mark’s bass on music for the Smashing Pumpkins, Jessica Simpson, The Electric Prunes, and a whole host of other exciting music and movie projects. I also got to perform with Mark in “The Spirits In The Sky”, an all-star band led by Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins.
Mark was always fun to be around and he always got my humor, which is sometimes dry and cerebral. Mark was always on time and usually brought coffee for everyone. I think that most everyone who got a chance to work with Mark would agree that he had a youthful excitement for life, music, and sound. Always eager to try new ideas, he encouraged others to contribute and to perform at the top of their game creatively. It was always a treat to see Mark’s reaction when he heard his amazing bass parts being played back in the context of a final mix.
Mark was definitely a team player and that was evident by his years of session playing. Mark played on some truly amazing projects over the years, including the first Buckingham-Nicks album. He told of his experiences touring with Buffalo Springfield and about jamming with Jimi Hendrix in London. Jimi even played him an acetate cut of “Bold As Love.” Mark had extraordinary experiences, yet he had no personal ego attached to them. He always made everyone feel good about themselves.
I learned a lot from recording Mark. He had a unique approach, which some might call “old school”. He’d play along with the song from start to finish until he felt confident in his part. Then he would record it over and over till he got the perfect take. Whereas most ‘modern musicians’ would be happy to compile, copy or edit their parts to get it right, Mark always tried to top himself and only liked to use complete performances. His bass tracks had the exercised vibe of a well-trained athlete. Just as a sprinter tries to shave seconds from a race, Mark always tried to improve his parts. He gave me the confidence to apply this approach to my own music. His bass playing even graced one of my own songs.
It’s been tough to process Mark’s untimely death. Here’s a quote from him about his definition of the word “psychedelic” and it’s relation to music:
“[Psychedelic music is] sensory stimulation through the primal, incongruous, and the absurd.”
Mark truly had a unique take on life and he pursued his quest till the end. He’ll be missed.
Finally, Billy Corgan wrote a loving tribute to Tulin. Here it is, in part:
Playing music with Mark was always a joy, he was truly a great,
sympathetic musician, a native bass player who knew his instrument and
played with a quiet fire. I loved working with him, and he was very
supportive and complimentary of me as I was coming out of a rough
time. Words can not express how much I enjoyed creating music with
him, and it was a great honor to have him play on some of these recent
SP tracks; ‘astral planes’, ‘widow wake my mind’, and many others,
tons of unreleased stuff. He played a long lost style that was
incredibly responsive to the vocals, and to the song. A lost art.