TalkBassists Profiles II: JOHN ENTWISTLE

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Harry Lime, Nov 21, 2001.

  1. Last time I asked about John Taylor of Duran Duran. This time I'll ask about John Entwistle of The Who.

    So how is he rated in the bass world? I've never really listened closely to him yet. There's already too much going on with Pete Townshend and his guitar, not to mention Keith Moon and his drums! Entwistle's playing has been described as "thundering," right? What do they mean by that?

    Basically, anything you want to add about Entwistle, your favorite bass lines by him and what not...add it all here. Thanks.
  2. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Well, you asked! :D

    Personally, I would say that John Entwistle has probably been one of my biggest influences so far. In my opinion, he was a real innovator on the bass - his whole approach, tone, technique, and even stage presence were pretty unique at the time, and still are today pretty much.

    Entwistle's playing is thundering because of this unique approach. Unlike most sixties bassists, who liked a warmer, rounder tone, Entwistle often used a very trebley, harsh sound, fitting in with the rest of the Who by using huge (for the time) rigs - in the late seventies he also started playing an eight stringed bass. From Quadrophenia onwards in particular, he played very fluid, intense basslines, often going up the neck and functioning as the main melodic instrument compared to Townshend's power chord riffs.

    Entwistle was voted Bassist magazine's bass player of the millenium last year, mainly due to the influence that his playing has had - in particular, he was one of the first to showcase the bass guitar's potential as a lead instrument. Classic examples of his playing include My Generation, The Real Me, and Dreaming From The Waist (especially the live version on the Who By Numbers CD), although there are many more that could be mentioned, such as pretty much all of Live At Leeds, Quadrophenia and The Who By Numbers. This is a bass solo that was recorded last year on the Who's American tour, which may also give you the sudden urge to woodshed. :eek:

    Anyway, hope that was useful. I could write an awful lot more about the Ox than this, but I think it'd be for the best if I shut up now and let someone else have their say. :)
  3. red-hot-bassist


    Sep 18, 2001
    the who rule and boris the spider is one of the fisrt songs i leanred, entwistle is groovy
  4. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    he never plays a full song with a same "Right Hand patern" ... pretty cool... watch the "Horror Rock" video on his page to know what im talking about!

    he plays with 4 fingers, then he taps, then he does some weird alternating fingers, then he uses thumb... you get the idea... :D
  5. He is probably the rock bassist of all time. Every good alternative bassist since 'My Generation' owes something to entwistle.
  6. Entwistle is truly a giant, having essentially invented the concept of hard rock bass.

    He is also one of a kind; no one out there today sounds like him. Perhaps Billy Sheehan came closest, but Sheehan would be the first to admit that he's no Entwistle.

    Alas, he may have been too unique--unlike many other great rock bassists (McCartney, Bruce), Entwistle was rarely, if everm asked to play on someone else's sessions. Like Chris Squire, Entwistle basically had one tone, one speed, one style, and if you heard it, you knew it was him. In other words, he tended to overwhelm all those around him. If you've seen his instructional video, you'll hear what I mean: he plays a standard 12-bar blues line with the instructor, and it sounds just like a bass solo!
  7. i've been to alot of concerts and most of them had bass solos. i've also heard alot of bass solos on cd's and mp3's and what not and none of them have come close to the solo i heard him play on the tour last year when i saw them. it was just awe inspiring. and that was before i even started playing bass!
  8. Thanks for the replies, guys. Keep 'em coming. Why hasn't embellisher responded to this?
  9. Ari Schor

    Ari Schor

    Mar 3, 2000
    I have to disagree about the tone issue...i found that his sound varied from record to record...if you listen to "getting in tune", "5:15" and "Boris the Spider" you will notice completely different was later on that his tone sort of "monotonized" (no pun intended)
  10. Entwistle is awesome! I've never really heard a who song where the bass really stands out, other than My Generation, what some other songs where Entwistle shines?
  11. Slapfunk


    Nov 24, 2001
    As has been mentioned, My Generation has to be listened to over and over again. Before Entwhistle, all bassists were there to play the root note at the start of every bar. He is probably the person who can take most credit for making bass a respected instrument.
  12. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Here's a few from the mid-seventies: The Real Me, The Punk & The Godfather, 5.15, Dreaming From The Waist, How Many Friends, In A Hand Or A Face, Success Story, and Trick Of The Light. Just a few. :)
  13. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Of course he's no Entwistle! I remember reading an article that Billy Sheehan authored in the early or mid-'80's where he criticized Entwistle's right-hand technique, saying he wasn't consistent in where he struck the strings. If only I had enough time to explain why Sheehan's comments in that article are uninformed and ignorant...;)

    One tone? is that why is bass has a fully parametric mid-range that I've seen him use like....EVERY song??? Is that why his rack has over 20 different preset tones in it??? Is that why he uses so many different attacks on the strings in so many places, such as the edge of the fretboard, above the treble pickup, between pickups, etc??? Is that why he's considered an innovator of many styles??? Is that why he's able to play warm, melodic bass lines on albums such as "Who's Next" and thunderous bass lines on "Quadrophenia"???

    I think you need to check your facts!

    Entwistle is clearly one of the greatest rock bassists who've ever lived! He's been an innovator, a collaborator, a producer, an arranger, and a basis for some of the greatest music to ever hit the airwaves! To see him live will leave your jaw on the floor! He stands very still, makes only a few facial expressions, but is one of the most fun to watch, awe-inspiring creative forces I've ever seen or heard!:D
  14. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    Kings Bay, GA
    and he plays that wacky-ass buzzard bass too...i guess only entwistle can play a bass like that. i have that tune horror rock dowloaded on the old ' gotta love the ox
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Entwistle was a huge early inspiration for me. I remember the fun of playing My Generation in my High School band and practicing the solos hour upon hour so I wouldn't look like a total idiot. He's a bass god, one of the ultimate bass kings.

    That said, many years later, I don't idolize him the way I used to. He does use many sounds and many fingerings, but it is true that he has a signature sound that really calls attention to itself. That's what I love and what I hate about his playing! :) In the dynamic of The Who no-one else would have worked. However, that flamboyant style doesn't work for much of anything else! Nowadays I don't want to play like Entwistle, I want to play like Levin.

    Not to take away from his EXTREME importance in the field of rock bass, though. He is The Man and a huge influence on most rock bass players who have followed him.
  16. He may have all those presets, but I defy you to identify more than one tone on the LIVE discs, such as Blues To The Bush, Live at Leeds, even the awful Who's Last.

    Obviously, he had different tones on record. But we can thank producers for that.

    BTW--let's not forget that Entwistle is one of my favorites. I'm not putting him down. I'm just pointing out that, while a giant, he was almost "too unique."
  17. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    why are you heaping criticism upon him for having developed a tone that he is comfortable with and that worked with The Who? if he had of used several tones instead you'd be criticising him for being erratic or something :rolleyes:
  18. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Name more than one tone? That's easy. For Behind Blue Eyes, for example, he plays a very gentle, scooped tone, so he fits in the background, until the bridge near the end. For Kids Are Alright, he plays with a very mid-focused, yet vintage type tone. For Won't Get Fooled Again, he plays with a more modern tone. For 5:15, he plays with an even tone, up until his solo, when he cranks the mids. Those are just examples.

    If you'd listen closely enough to his tone on Blues to the Bush, which is fairly well produced, though a little digital sounding, you'll notice that he's got different tones for all of his songs.

    You simply can't judge him any differently on having a style, any more than you can for Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Jack Bruce, Jaco Pastorias, Victor Wooten, Billy Sheehan, or anybody else who's risen to new heights with the bass guitar! These guys all sound ONLY like themselves, and in many cases, didn't play on numerous recordings: only a few did.

    Therefore, I still don't understand where you're trying to go with this...:confused:
  19. I've actually seen John Entwistle live before. I saw him here in RI when he played with Ringo Starr and His All Star Band back in '95. Back then I knew absolutely nothing about bass or music in general. I just thought that Entwistle looked like this big guy who just stood there, even more boring than Bill Wyman.
  20. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Sorry, didn't see the thread until now.

    Entwistle is an amazing bassist, and pretty much pioneered hard rock bass playing. I just wish that I had appreciated him and The Who in general earlier than I did. I didn't really get into them until 4 or 5 years ago.

    Part of the problem is that on a lot of the studio stuff, he is pretty buried in the mix. But I checked out a couple of the live albums after reading an article on him somewhere, maybe Bass Player? And I discovered that I had missed out on one of the most influential bassists in popular music. And I have really grown to appreciate Pete Townshend and the band in general the last few years.

    If they ever do a tour again, I'm there!