Bass Guitar Lesson – How To Play The Chicken (Jaco Pastorius/Pee Wee Ellis)

This is one of those tunes that every bass guitarist is expected to know. I'll never forget being caught out on a gig once when I realised I'd heard this many times but didn't really know how to play it! In this lesson, you are going to learn the form of the song as well as the theory behind it. You will also learn patterns, shapes, and riffs that work beautifully over the chords. Then you will be totally on top of the tune next time you need to play it.

Don't forget to scroll down and download the free backing track and PDF chart.


The Chicken - Pee Wee Ellis

Made famous by Jaco Pastorius, this jazz funk standard was originally recorded by sax man Pee Wee Ellis.

This version by Jaco from the Birthday Concert live album is fantastic.


The Form/Structure

The Chicken is a 16 bar structure that sometimes has a 4 bar intro.

Check out this lesson for more soul/blues patterns you can use over The Chicken.

9 Rhythm & Blues Soul Bass Patterns


The Chicken Backing Track

Download this backing track and practise as many different ideas as you can. Remember to:

  • Keep a solid groove and don't let your timing waver
  • Connect chord changes smoothly
  • Outline the harmony in your lines
  • Hit the unison line (which is unfortunately absent from my backing track - you're on your own there!)

More Bass Guitar Songs To Learn


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