John Beal is a bass player who occasionally performed on Sesame Street albums.
A busy freelance musician since the 1950s, Beal played with big band leader Woody Herman and, on records, backed Judy Collins, Nina Simone, Bette Midler, Luther Vandross, Audra McDonald, Gloria Estefan, Wynton Marsalis, and Paul Simon. Beal has been most active performing on Broadway, in concert, and even for operatic works. He played for Leonard Bernstein's Mass in 1971 and for the 1978 chamber opera Dr. Heidegger's Fountain of Youth. He played double bass for Philip Glass on the albums Koyaanisqatsi, Songs from Liquid Days, and DancePieces ("In the Upper Room"), as well as the prelude to the 1984 stage version of Samuel Beckett's Endgame. He frequently accompanied Barbara Cook in solo concerts, played on-stage accompanying An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin (2011), and in the orchestra of Alan Menken's A Christmas Carol.
On Broadway, Beal has often worked with Stephen Sondheim, playing in the original runs of Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, The Frogs, Assassins, and various concert events. Other Broadway credits include Chess, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, the revival of Kiss Me Kate (with Brian Stokes Mitchell), Pal Joey, Finian's Rainbow, and The Nance. Film scores include The Wiz, Ethan Hawke's Hamlet, A Chorus Line, Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose and Everyone Says I Love You, Fame, and Chicago.
- Bob Sings! (1977) - bass on "Jamaica Farewell," "Edelweiss," "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Getting to Know You"
- Big Bird's Birdtime Stories (1980)