The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again": just the bass

My pal John Curley, bassist for the newly-reunited Afghan Whigs, tweeted the above video of The Who's John Entwistle playing bass on "Won't Get Fooled Again." No, that's not an epic solo. That's the isolated bass line from the song.


  1. Just like I’ve long said, Townshend is a great rhythm guitarist, while Entwistle was doing all the leads…

    1. Pete was usually the one keeping the beat with his rhythm playing, while John would do these icredible bass lines and Keith, well, Keith was filling in all the holes with the most insanely wonderful drumming we’ll ever hear. Put Daltrey in front of all that music with some of the most erudite lyrics in RnR and you have the best band ever.

    1. the best thing is that Edge is pretty upfront about how much he relies on effects to achieve his signature sound.  He’s a tremendous tech nerd – his pedal box is enormous (see the documentary “It Might Get Loud”) and seems to consider plain-jane rock guitar riffs, sans-effects, to be boring.  

  2. That’s what a bass player should look like, hyper-competent almost to the point of boredom. Just hold it down and let your bandmates wank. It helps avoid the pursed-lip expression of intense concentration known as “bassface.”

    1. That’s what amazed me the first time I saw this (it’s a bonus feature on the The Kids Are Alright DVD): the fact that he’s rocking so goddamned hard while stifling yawns and apparently totally phoning it in.  The guy was just a monstrous talent, and made it look absolutely effortless.

  3. My favorite member of The Who, after Keith Moon.

    It’s funny how drummers and bass players only get better with age, until their eventual untimely deaths (with the exception of John Paul Jones, who is still a picture of good health)

      1.  I agree about Rush and Geddy.  Watch the Led Zep Movie the song remains the same and how smooth and easy John Paul Jones plays that amazing riff on Dazed and confused when they really get going. 

  4. I love the standing around in the beginning. I wasn’t intimately familiar with the bass part before this, so I was expecting a joke. I am pleasantly surprised.

  5. The OX was the best lead guitarist in R&R ;-)! Spent many shows in front of him…sometimes he would hit notes so loud that they made my throat throb in sympathetic rhythm and I couldn’t breath! The sun never sets on English quartets! Love Pete too!

  6. What an amazing performance! 

    If you listen closely, he hits what sounds like a wrong string at 1:27 and smiles at 1:29 to acknowledge it. Or am I missing something?

  7. “Looks like Entwistle …” puts on sunglasses “…just got played.”


  8. I heard somewhere that The Who is unique in that _everyone_ is playing lead- Pete Townsend, lead guitar; John Entwistle, lead bass; Keith Moon, lead drums;  Roger Daltrey, lead vocals.

    1. It becomes particularly apparent in The Real Me, which features a bare-bones rhythm guitar part, and completely over-the-top badass lead drums, bass, and vocals.  It’s almost as if Townsend couldn’t be bothered to gild that particular lily with a conventional guitar solo.  There wouldn’t have been room for so much awesomeness on one stage.

    2.  I think it was Townsend who said that; I seem to recall it from a documentary. Ironically, Townsend is a lousy lead guitar player (his solos are mostly pretty uninspired). But he’s one of the best rhythm guitarists ever, and he made rhythm guitar a lead instrument. Someone once said he’s basically “one big right hand.”

      Structurally, The Who are essentially a power trio. It should all sound too crowded and busy, and in lesser hands they would have been a white-noise mess. But they were all superb musicians, and it Just Worked. In their heyday I think maybe only Zeppelin could give them a run for their money.

  9. Someone (forget who) said grunge killed the bass in rock music; too many bands content to just have someone plodding along on the roots. Rock needs more entwistles, people whose bass parts are essential to the song, not just a means of filling out the low end.

    Mike Watt playing with the Stooges was helluva start.

  10. Here’s the full mix (not sure if it’s the same take, but appears to be the same session).  You can barely hear the bass!

  11. +1 on the Mike Watt reference. Despite what people may think of Les Claypool from Primus lead bass in rock was invented by the Ox, and carried on by Watt.

    And the track is isolated…except for the synth coming through Entwistle’s super hot pickups :)

  12. Whenever I think about bass guitar being the least needed instrument in a band, I think of Entwistle, then I curse myself and stop talking with me for 2-3 days until I apologise…from myself.

  13. Stu Hamm is probably the best example of “bass as lead” I’ve ever heard: (the first minute  is basically prelude). He was Joe Satriani’s bass player for a good while. I’ve seen him live a few times and he tears the roof off. He does clam sometimes — but he’s also playing double-hand tap 32nd notes. On bass.

  14. Thanks I really enjoyed this. I am a huge fan of  The Who (and music in general). What struck me while watching was pondering how long it would have taken me to figure out the song  being played had I not know ahead of time. I love “Won’t Get Fooled Again”and have listened to it hundreds of times. Yet hearing Entwistle play separately, I found it difficult  to discern. Would a trained musician familiar with the song not find that to be the case?

  15. A college graduate joins the Peace Corps, goes off to Africa to teach in a tiny village deep in the jungle.  The entire time he’s there he hears drums off in the distance.  Eventually he asks some villagers about the drums, but they always reply with the same thing: “drums stop. . . very bad!”  Finally he interjects “OK, I get it, when the drums stop it’s bad, but WHY, what happens?!”

    The villager replies “drums stop. . . BASS SOLO!”

  16. I just watched “An Ox’s Tale: The John Entwistle Story” two days ago.  Highly recommended:

  17. I like that you can hear a little of the organ at the beginning.. sympathetic vibrations, caught through the bass pickup?

      1. Maybe, but you can hear the vocals bleeding through on the Baba O’Riley take from the same session. On Fooled there seems to be a gate in play as you only hear background when he’s playing.

  18. I knew there was a reason I have two Entwistle solo albums but somehow never got around to having any albums by the Who. Gotta go dig those old pieces of vinyl up and transfer them over.

  19. Surprisingly funky (in the sense of being full of funk). At first I thought this was some sort of demonstration by John, but then this guy with a blond afro (Roger Daltrey?) kept popping into the frame, so I guess it was some performance.

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