I played bass in third year of engineering. It was fun, playing the bass has all the advantages of being in a band, without the hassles. Why ? because nobody in the audience cares about the bass, nobody. The bass notes by definition are lower in frequency and are more easily absorbed by the material and walls in the concert hall than the high frequency notes of the guitar and the vocalist. Yeah, I learned that in Mechanical Vibrations, a subject that sounds vaguely vulgar to my ears.
So what does this all mean ? It means that if you play bass on stage, you can make mistakes, stop playing, jump around, and no one will notice. And to the naysayers; yeah, I have tried it.
So who's my favorite bassist ?
It depends on what the criteria is.
For showmanship it has to be Billy Sheehan.
As far as impressive technique is concerned, look no further than John Myung.
BUT, if you are want to get into the bassist with the right 'feel' and an addictive groove to his playing and all that jazz, then it has to be Tony Levin hands down. When Levin plays, I can actually hear those fat bass strings singing.