COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa. The news that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee had entered the 2016 presidential race sent national politicians and pundits scrambling to explain the cable news talking head’s apparently quixotic decision, but to local observers in the state with the first-in-the-nation caucuses it made perfect sense. “From the outside, it looks mysterious,” says Iowa State University political science professor Charles Turner. “To those of who know Iowa, it’s as plain as a pig on a sofa.”
“In the sun-shine of your love.”
The explanation? “Iowa is home to a large number of overweight current or former bass players,” says Turner, who himself used to pluck the strings of a Fender Bassman with the Quad City Armadillos, a soul cover band in the ’70’s.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit–on the one!”
Huckabee has played electric bass with the group Capitol Offense since 1996, and continues to do so despite warnings from political consultants that he will be tarred by the image of the bassplayer as the moodiest and least attractive member of most rock groups.
“With the exception of Paul McCartney, girls flock to the rhythm guitarists, drummers and lead guitarists in that order,” says Jim Spaulding, who writes on the bass scene for Guitar Magazine. “If you do a Google image search for Bill Wyman”–the former bass guitar player for the Rolling Stones–“you’ll come up empty.”
Jack Casady: He played for the . . . um . . . Strawberry Alarm Clock?
Because of their subordinate status within most rock groups, bass players often neglect their appearance and become obese, at least by the flyweight standards by which rock musicians are judged. Huckabee was diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes in 2003 and was informed by his doctors that he would die within ten years if he did not lose weight. He lost over 110 pounds in a short period of time, although he regains some weight whenever he straps on his “axe”–a Tobias Basic 4-string model manufactured in Conway, Arkansas.
“No doubt about it, bass players pay the heaviest dues and can outeat any lead singer,” says Lloyd “Buster” Wright, who performs every Friday and Saturday with the country band “Hog Jowls” at the La Quinta Inn just south of town. “Whenever I lose ten pounds my wife says ‘Turn around, you’ll find it.'”