One of my earliest memories of a bass player that wasn’t merely a ‘filler of low notes’ is of John Entwistle. He was a member of The Who (he died in 2002), and on stage, he was at peace. To me, he looked like a Buddhist. He did not suffer, he had worked his way up to bass nirvana, he was zen. Or maybe even more than that: a stoic Buddhist.
I still am amazed (after listening so many times to his bass lines) about his collection of techniques. He used tapping, plucking, picking, hammering. And his sound was always so gruesome solid. He played in such a way that his bass notes were more than a fundament. They were a building themselves. In fact, listening to Entwistle playing makes me realise that his performance, i.e. his playing, was extremely self-assured and confident. As if to say:
‘Here I am, I stand my ground, you can’t and won’t fuck with me.’
His baselines and the way he played them were a song themselves. A song in a song.
Watch this and listen to his superb solo, including all the styles of playing.
A true hero of the rock base.
© Rick Ruhland 2018