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Primus Frontman Les Claypool Offers Rare Bass for Auction to Benefit Ailing Nephew

Justin Renney, Getty Images

It is not uncommon for rockers to step up and help out those in need, but when that someone is family, it takes on even more meaning for the musicians. That’s what is happening at the moment for Primus bassist/singer Les Claypool, who is parting with one of his prize basses in order to help out his nephew.

Claypool’s 2-year-old nephew Matthew is currently undergoing bone marrow treatment for a rare form of infant leukemia, and the medical costs are rising. In order to help his nephew out, Les has decided to auction off a prototype of one of his rare basses to help out with the costs.

The musician revealed that young Matthew has traveled to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis to have the procedure done and it’s been a heart-wrenching experience watching his brother’s family go through this while also seeing the medical bills pile up.

In addition to offering the PACHYDERM bass prototype for auction, Les also offered his own statement on the situation, which can be read below:

Hello there,

Two years ago my younger brother’s two-month old baby boy Matthew was diagnosed with a rare form of infant leukemia. Matthew has just recently celebrated his second birthday and as of this date he is a little over 60 days into his bone marrow transplant therapy. The bone marrow treatment is taking place at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee where the most cutting edge techniques are used. A few weeks prior to his transplant, Matthew was given a 0% chance of survival rating from Stanford Medical Center because they felt that they had exhausted their treatment options. St. Jude’s has been Matthew’s “hail Mary pass.”

Watching my younger brother and his wife go through one of the most heart aching situations that any parent can endure has been gut-wrenching. On top of that there is the unbelievable expense of the treatments ($80,000 for one particular shot alone and Matthew needed two of them). I do what I can financially and the fellows in Primus have been very generous to do performances as well as create special merchandise items for Matthew’s cause but unfortunately we are just pushing against a tide of debt that my brother will be dealing with for many years. He has a fairly new business that is chugging along in the Monterey Bay area called GREEN GOPHER GARDEN SUPPLY but because his attention needs to be focused on Matthew, the business is just squeaking by.

It is at this point that I have decided to put up one of my main performance four string basses for public auction in hopes of not only raising some needed cash for Matthew but also to raise attention to the notion that infant leukemia is rapidly growing and places like St. Jude’s Hospital are beacons of hope for families that are struggling to deal with such tragic situations.

The bass I’m putting up for auction is the final prototype, Les Claypool brand, PACHYDERM, four string bass. It is one of two, (the first being my current “main” with a bit smaller body), and is the design that all future PACHYDERM basses will be modeled after. I have been playing this bass live for the past year or so and it is a fabulous feeling and sounding instrument.

The notion of the PACHYDERM basses was for me to create the most playable and ergonomically comfortable instrument I could think of and have them hand-made by a longtime friend and guitar maker extraordinaire. Having played many basses over the years, I crossed different elements of my favorites as well as some innovations of my own. This particular bass has a walnut top with maple back giving it a warm tone with a bit of a punch in the attack. I like my electronics simple so there is one custom EMG split pickup with one volume knob.

The other knob controls the LED’s in the side of the illuminated fingerboard for visibility on those dimly lit stages that I tend to stomp around on. The bass is also configured with a KAHLER tremolo bar and exotic wood pick-guard. Photos will be available to view on the auction site as well as at PRIMUSVILLE.COM.
When Matthew was diagnosed, Stanford Medical Center (one of the top facilities in the country) had never seen a case like Matthew’s and in the two years since, there have been several more. Something in our environment is triggering this new surge and it is facilities like St. Jude’s as well as Stanford Medical Center that are gathering the data needed to treat, curtail and perhaps cure an affliction that devastates not only the patient but also the family and community around them.

Please spread the word to anyone who may be interested in not only owning a spectacular and potentially collectable instrument but also in helping ease some financial pressure for a toddler and family in need.

Thank you, Les Claypool

Check out the PACHYDERM bass prototype, currently up for bids on eBay, here.

Next: Primus Plotting 3D Fall 2012 Tour

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