Noel Redding: the greatest bassist who never was

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Bass V, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    my decades long opinions on the dismissed legend;
    he's world renown, yet few remember. in death as in life it's a shame Noel isn't revered nearly as much as the guitar icon he stood toe to toe with for 2 grotesquely ill-payed touring and recording years (and forever after) while virtually never blowing a lick in the utmost excursionary musical exploits in history. in fact, he's almost as forgotten as he was ignored at the height of his glory days, Billy Cox has easily usurped the bass focal point when it comes to Jimi's two 4 slingers and all he did was superbly lay back and be the solid foundation, whereas Noel jumped headlong into the mix with Hendrix and drove the songs as relentlessly as Jimi and Mitch ...and he was brand new to bass! I've always had the most respect for Noel as a nice person with integrity, a player with a classic picked tone and basic abilities who made the ass kicking most of them, and as a temporary bassist who influenced more bass players than most will ever know or admit. plus, he's Bob Dylan's grandma!
    there's a good chance that Jimi would have invited Noel back into the fold after the disastrous Scandinavian tour and very possibly replaced Mitchell with Johnny Winter's drummer, Bobby Caldwell, but we'll never know. what we do know is Redding deserved far better than what he ever got and that incredulously his Fender P (which Jimi played a bunch) was sold at auction for next to nothing simply says it all.

    here's a great article on Noel and insight to the JHE history with links to more;
    Noel Redding: His Letter About the Jimi Hendrix Experience | Jas Obrecht Music Archive

    from the first known film footage of The Experience - Feb. 1967
  2. I'm a massive JH fan, and have always championed Noel's style.

    Some of those Experience gigs just sound amazing....rather than hold a solid base (aka Billy Cox), NR was right in there, giving the band a totally different sound.

    I think BC was equally great in the role, both were/are (in Billy's case) different players.

    NR does get a bad rap from bass players (guess he doesn't fit the 'traditional' mode), I'll never understand the criticism he receives.

    Evidence? Rapid-run through of 'Voodoo Chile' from the '69 Lulu show. Solo section never fails to thrill, and so different from how BC handled it.
    Rocker949, Ductapeman and Bass V like this.
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Wasn't he a guitar player that subbed on bass for this project?
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Most of the anti-Noel sentiment is just personal preference. It's a sad fact that after leaving Jimi, Noel never again had any sort of success on his own. Perhaps another reason Noel is less celebrated is that his contemporaries were Jack Bruce and John Entwistle, two players who totally recast the role of the bass in rock and both worked in a trio context.

    I'll point out that Mitch Mitchell didn't fare much better in his career and the Mitch vs. Buddy Miles debate is just as rabid as the Noel vs. Jimi.
  5. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    his demure personality may have played a role as well with never an outstanding on or off stage presence, instead he always exuded the studious workman's code of just do your job and let the star get the bright lights which The Ox and JPJ were probably the straightest examples. at the time bass was indeed becoming an equal to the guitar and when the Experience ended Noel simply disappeared just as rock was hitting high gear, he was left in the dust and soon went home to stay. but he helped make the JHE what is was and with anyone else it would have been quite different, for better or worse, who knows?
    Basshappi, Helix and Rocker949 like this.
  6. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    pretty much, but his guitar skills paled to his bass and he'd have never been heard of!
  7. I don't think that any of the original JHE held down traditional roles, that's what made them on fire....nobody was just playing it straight.

    The BOG era is interesting again, as BM was the polar opposite of MM, as BC was to NR.

    Fascinating that the last JHE combined both....BC holding it down whilst MM did his usual (IMHO amazing) stuff.

    I'm an unreserved JH fan, and can dream all day about what he packed in to such a short time, and where he may have gone next.

    The bass community got two great players, so we did pretty well too!
    Basshappi, Eikari, Rocker949 and 2 others like this.
  8. Interesting. At the end of the day, I find that I'm not much of a JHE fan. Listened to a bunch when AOR radio ruled (and I was in my teens), and they unquestionably put out groundbreaking material, but these days it doesn't do it for me. And honestly, I think it might be the whole rhythm section. Might be why I don't seek out The Who either.
    Ant Illington likes this.
  9. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    If it's any comfort to you, I had never heard of Billy Cox before your mention of him but I did know that Noel Redding was the bassist for Jimi Hendrix.

    Thanks for the linked stories, too.
    soktau, 6Bass101 and Bass V like this.
  10. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    the band was always on a tightrope and you either shine or it can get messy, and there were the times when you wonder how other players would have handled it. in the end I think Noel and Billy dealt with the impossible very well in their own ways. Noel had a competitive streak and they all went for the gusto, whereas Billy was a soldier and knew his role.
  11. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    there's a lot of great info in the links, pretty cool to relive those times from their perspectives.
  12. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    Super like. I essentially typed the same sentiment then deleted as not necessary for the thread. But since you opened the can of worms, I'll agree. The lousy fidelity of the recordings certainly doesn't help that style of playing.
    JMacBass65 likes this.
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I liked some of JH's early music. I became increasingly disenchanted with what followed as his personal life spun more and more out of control. About all I can say is he followed his own path and made his own choices.

    As far as Noel Redding's bass work goes, he got the job done. And to my way of thinking, that's no small accomplishment. Especially when you're holding it all down for a totally unstable headliner. Noel Redding was certainly not the greatest. But he was far above being merely adequate. He has his well deserved place in rock history. And I don't think anyone can begrudge him that.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
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  14. Stempelloos


    Nov 3, 2008
    I remember seeing Noel Redding and his band on St. Patrick's day in a pub in Clonakilty a good 25 year ago. A lady friend introduced me to him after they'd finished the gig saying 'this guy plays the bass, maybe you can give him some advice'.

    So I ended up having a chat with him about playing bass and music.
    Quite a memorable event in my life.
  15. sok monkee

    sok monkee Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2007
    Burlington N.C.
    That was a great read thanks for sharing!
    Bass V likes this.
  16. LowNloud1

    LowNloud1 Commercial User

    Jun 11, 2012
    Wilmington NC
    I am a hobbyist making stone picks that I sell but mostly give away. They made me do this anyways.
    I agree with 40Hz. Redding was basically in the right place at the right time and even Hendrix admitted he chose him more for his "look" than his ability. The fact that I could play his bass lines placed him, in my mind, at par with my own mediocre skill.
    bassdude51, alaskaleftybass and tbz like this.
  17. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx! Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    OP should buy a Fender Noel Redding bass!
    Bass V and Rocker949 like this.
  18. He's so unknown that his J is taken for a P even by people who like him:)

    He played mainly a '65 Fender Jazz and this was sold for next to nothing. But Fender bought it back and copied it for the limited edition Noel Redding Jazz from Fender Japan in 1998. I have one with a real autograph from Noel on the pickguard. It was the most expensive Fender Japan Jazz ever (nearly the price of a US Vintage reissue, but with a gigbag and no case and no nitro, in Germany even without a gigbag for 1.600,-, the US Vintage reissues with case were 2.000,- back then). Still one of the best Fender Jazz basses I ever tried or owned.
    During his last years Redding played one of his signature basses.
    Fender Japan 1998 catalog:

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
  19. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    Oh please!

    Epic rant to follow... :laugh::laugh:

    I am a massive Hendrix fan and I (obviously) love bass players. I spent years of my life absorbing this music. However, I never rated Noel Redding. He's the ultimate camouflage master. You never even know he's there.

    (First of all, he played a J, not a P...)

    Him leaving the Experience was a step up in every way. That may not be entirely his own fault. But it is a fact that a lot of "his" bass work on the albums was actually played by Hendrix himself. In particular on Electric Ladyland.

    He left on his own terms because he was eternally jealous and convinced to be at least as good a guitarist and song writer as Jimi Hendrix. He's on record for that. Google it. Also google his solo music. You'll see that he was utterly wrong.

    He had a toxic personality and did not get along with people. Google it. Plenty of testimony. Google Lemmy's opinion on that as well. They used to be room mates of sorts.

    His playing was mediocre at best, his song writing and singing not even that (Little Miss Strange anyone?). He was OK for the job, but can you honestly say that he is inspirational or even inspired? Composed one memorable bass line?

    If you can find one interview where that man is not moaning and bitching, then I'd love to see it. It's usually about money. He did get paid quite well for a hired gun, actually. He made some bad choices, though. Google it.

    The guy lucked out and threw it away. You can see how that could make one bitter, but it is no wonder that he was more or less forgotten. He had not much to offer on his own and didn't want to be a sideman. Tough luck.

    Mic drop. Feeling relieved. :cool:
  20. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I always felt a little bad for Noel. He was always compared to the other big three bassist of his era. Jack Bruce, John Paul Jones, and the Ox (Entwhistle )
    Noel was hired for his look-Hair. He always seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. ( In every interview I read ) To me he was a cool guy, but an average bass player.
    Bass V likes this.
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