Stanley Clarke (born June 30, 1951) is an American bassist and founding member of Return to Forever, one of the first jazz fusion bands. He has composed music for films and television and has worked with musicians in many genres. Like Jaco Pastorius, Clarke gave the bass guitar a prominence it lacked.
Clarke was born in Philadelphia. His mother sang opera around the house, belonged to a church choir, and encouraged him to study music. He started on accordion, then tried violin. He was introduced to the bass as a schoolboy when he arrived late on the day instruments were distributed to students, and acoustic bass was one of the few remaining selections. He took lessons on double bass at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, beginning with five years of classical music. He picked up bass guitar in his teens so that he could perform at parties and imitate the rock and pop bands that girls liked. He cites as influences Ron Carter and Charles Mingus.