10 Times John Entwistle Proved Why He’s Called “Thunderfingers”
It would take someone of John Entwistle’s caliber to keep up with manic bandmates like Keith Moon and Pete Townshend who both have a penchant for chaos and destruction. At 7 years old, Entwistle took piano lessons and a few years later, he switched to trumpet then the French horn. It was after he met Townshend when he took up the bass guitar.
He was integral to The Who’s sound, providing the melodic background and pioneering a unique way of playing that would go on to influence all the other bassists who followed him. Here are his ten best bass performances:
1. My Generation
One of the songs that cemented their spot as legends, it wouldn’t be as brilliant and revolutionary without Entwistle’s bass guitar. His bass solos may be short but they packed a lot of punch. Also, he basically took the song to another level.
2. The Real Me
Entwistle played a melodic riff here and while Townshend was thinking of a simple bass line, Entwistle upped the ante and it ended up becoming one of his greatest bass performances. Interestingly, he only recorded it in a single take. He even said in a 1996 interview with Goldmine magazine that he was just “joking around” but the rest of his bandmates thought it was great.
3. Won’t Get Fooled Again
Entwistle didn’t mind stealing the spotlight but not just because he wanted to show-off. He’s the type of bass player who did more than what was required of him and so in this classic track, he improved the song with his engaging bass line and basically just amped up the entire song.
The studio version is good but The Who’s live performances were something else. And with The Ox’s extended solos, that’s where the magic truly happened. He could do everything on the bass guitar and coax sounds nobody knew was possible.
His bass lines in this song proved he was the backbone of the band. The bass guitar may not have been his first instrument but his sheer virtuosity and mastery will convince you that he was born to play the bass. He shined in this instrumental, showcasing the power of their rhythm section.
6. Sodding About
With that heavy bass sound, Entwistle proved he was a cut above the rest. The highlight of this instrumental are the bass and drums. And well, Entwistle and Keith Moon were one powerful combo.
7. Dreaming from the Waist
Townshend didn’t enjoy playing this song as he found it quite tricky but it features a show-stopping solo from Entwistle so this definitely deserves a spot on this list. Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate how he made it look so easy.
8. Doctor, Doctor
One of the things that turned The Who into rock legends was because each member showed mastery in what they did. Their musicianship’s absolutely impressive and for “Doctor, Doctor”, Entwistle led the pack with his bass line that served as the song’s backbone.
9. Young Man’s Blues
Originally by jazz artist Mose Allison, The Who took the song and made it their own. They reworked it in a way that most listeners had no idea theirs was a cover version. Roger Daltrey’s insane vocals, Townshend’s fiery guitar work, Moon’s thundering drums, and of course Entwistle’s glorious bass lines – Entwistle’s part was complex and yet he didn’t even break a sweat during their performances.
10. Boris the Spider
Any bassist worth their salt acknowledges this as a masterpiece, an underrated gem that brilliantly showcased Entwistle’s immense talent. It’s no wonder why it became a staple in their live shows.