Born one of the eight children of Thomas and Gwendolyn East on December 8, 1955, in Philadelphia, PA, Nathan East and his family moved to San Diego, CA, when he was four years old to accommodate his father’s aerodynamic engineering position at General Dynamics. As a child, East would peck out familiar melodies on the family piano. Music filled the home as his sister Cecilia practiced french horn and their sister Gerty played the flute. When Nathan was in the seventh grade, he began playing cello in his junior high school orchestra. At age 14, he switched to bass guitar, inspired by his older brother David’s mastery of the guitar. He began playing for local church groups and folk masses with his brothers including regular performances at Christ The King Church in southeast San Diego.
East played along with the recordings of jazz bassists Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Charles Mingus, Buster Williams and Scott LaFaro. He was also captivated by the sound of Motown’s legendary James Jamerson, Carole Kaye, Jack Bruce and Cream, Paul McCartney and the Beatles as they came over the radio or out of his record player. When Nathan heard Monk Mongomery’s melodic lead bass playing on his album Reality, he realized just how powerful the instrument was. The young bassist began playing in his high school’s jazz ensemble, marching band, choir, chorus, and pep band, as well as local Top 40 bands. Bassists like Francis Rocco Prestia of Tower of Power, Verdine White of Earth Wind & Fire and Larry Graham with Sly & the Family Stone were great examples of how the bass player can drive a band. He also listened to the music of Wes Montgomery, Quincy Jones, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, George Benson, Bob James, Harvey Mason, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Santana. Nathan credits Chuck Rainey as being one of his biggest influences for his melodic style and mastery of the bass using double stops and chords and simply his rare choice notes, taste, tone, technique and feel.
One of East’s early breakthroughs came while he was a member of a local band named Power. They were hired as the house band for a Stax revue. The recognition brought the attention of Barry White, who hired the entire band for a national tour. Still a teenager, East became a member of the Love Unlimited Orchestra (“Love’s Theme”) playing The Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden, Kennedy Center, Detroit’s Cobo Arena and other major US venues. This no doubt was a great experience for the young musician who would later travel extensively throughout his career.
In 1978, East earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance from the University of California San Diego. He began work on a master’s degree when instructor Bertram Turetzky suggested that he already had enough education and that it was time for him to move to Los Angeles to try and start a lucrative music career.
While involved with the San Diego club and studio scene, Barry White contacted him to play on many of his recording projects. In early 1980, veteran writer/arranger Gene Page, whom East had worked with on White’s sessions, called the bassist to play on a recording session for a national Hertz Rent-a-Car commercial. Impressed with East’s ability to read music as well as his diverse playing skills, Page used East on all of his projects including recordings for Whitney Houston, Madonna, Dionne Warwick and Michael Jackson.
Source: http://nathaneast.com/biography/ Accessed 17th March 2013