Keanu Reeves

How a “bass drug deal” gave Keanu Reeves his true calling

When Keanu Reeves arrived in California in 1985, one of his first stops was to the Guitar Center in Hollywood. The music store chain had actually started in Hollywood more than 20 years before Reeves arrived there, but the young actor only had one thing on his mind when he got there: getting his hands on a bass guitar.

“I always wanted to play bass,” Reeves told Fender in their YouTube feature on him, ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Dream’. “One of the things I love about this plank of wood is the physicality, the sense in the hand, the tone… isn’t it just pretty? I love [that] when I listen to it, I vibrate with the bass tones of it. It spoke to me.”

It wouldn’t be until 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure that Reeves would experience a breakthrough in his acting career. For that movie, Reeves took on the role of Ted Theodore Logan, a naive metalhead who just wants to find success with his band, Wyld Stallyns. Logan was a guitar player, but Reeves’ proficiency on bass certainly helped him land the part.

Three years before Bill & Ted, Reeves was outside the Hollywood Guitar Center looking for a bass. He never actually made it inside, however, as the instrument of his dreams wound up finding him in the parking lot. The somewhat shady dealings behind Reeves’ first bass stuck with Reeves over the years.

“I was asked, ‘What was my first bass?’ I’ve been trying to remember, but I think it was 1986,” Reeves recalled. “I went to the Hollywood Guitar Center with the daydream of getting a bass guitar. I ended up, I don’t know how, but there was a guy there who was selling a bass. He was with a friend – not at the store. It was like a parking lot sale. I had, like, a bass drug deal.”

“It spoke to me. I played it, it felt good in the hand, and I was just like, ‘Okay’,” Reeves explained. “I think I might have bought, the next week, a music theory bass [book]. But the thing was that I didn’t have anyone to play with. I don’t know if I’m learning anything. I think I’m a wild animal playing with a piece of wood. I didn’t learn a lot of songs.”

After an awkward bass lesson with Flea, likely on the set of My Own Private Idaho, Reeves decided that he should just form his own band. That wound up being Dogstar, which Reeves played bass in from 1991 to 2002. In 2023, Dogstar reunited for a new album, bringing Reeves back to his love of music.

Check out ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Dream’ down below.


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