Who is the Bass Player for The Who?

The Who is one of the most iconic rock bands of all time, known for their energetic live performances and timeless hits. But one question that has been asked by fans for decades is, “Who is the bass player for The Who?” The answer might surprise you, as the band has had several bass players throughout their storied career. From their early days with Keith Moon to their later years with Pete Townshend, The Who has always been a band that embraces change and evolves with the times. So, let’s dive into the history of The Who and explore the different bass players who have graced their stage over the years.

Quick Answer:
The Bass Player for The Who is John Entwistle. He was a founding member of the band and played bass guitar on many of their hit songs, including “My Generation,” “Baba O’Riley,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Entwistle was known for his unique and influential style of playing the bass, which combined elements of rock, jazz, and classical music. He was also known for his songwriting contributions to the band, penning many of their most popular songs. Tragically, Entwistle passed away in 2002, but his legacy as a key member of The Who and a pioneering bass player continues to be celebrated by fans and musicians alike.

The Bass Player for The Who

The Role of the Bass Player in The Who

The bass guitar plays a crucial role in The Who’s sound, providing a solid foundation for the band’s music. The bass player is responsible for creating a solid rhythm section alongside the drummer, ensuring that the beat is tight and driving. The bass player’s role is essential in holding the band together, allowing the guitarists and singer to create the melodies and solos that make The Who’s music so iconic.

The History of Bass Players in The Who

The Who’s original bass player, John Entwistle, was a founding member of the band. He played with the band from their inception in 1964 until his death in 2002. After Entwistle’s passing, several bass players have stepped in to fill his shoes, including Pino Palladino, Simon Phillips, and others. As of 2021, the current bass player for The Who is Jon Button.

John Entwistle’s Influence on The Who’s Sound

John Entwistle was a unique and influential bass player, known for his innovative playing style and techniques. He was a key contributor to The Who’s iconic songs, such as “My Generation” and “Baba O’Riley,” and his distinctive sound helped shape the band’s signature style. Even after his death, Entwistle’s influence on The Who’s sound remains evident, and he is remembered as a legendary bass player whose contributions to the band’s music will never be forgotten.

Other Notable Bass Players in The Who’s History

Pino Palladino’s contribution during the 1980s and 1990s

Pino Palladino, a renowned session musician, joined The Who as their bass player in the 1980s, following the death of John Entwistle. Palladino’s extensive experience and versatility made him a perfect fit for the band, allowing him to seamlessly adapt to their unique sound. He collaborated with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend on various projects during this period, including the album “Face Dances” (1981) and the “Join Together” tour.

Simon Phillips’ tenure during the 2000s

In the 2000s, Simon Phillips, a highly skilled drummer, took on the role of bass player for The Who. While not as well-known as Palladino or Entwistle, Phillips’ proficiency on the bass allowed him to contribute to the band’s sound and maintain their distinct style. He played on the 2006 album “Endless Wire” and joined the band for their “The Who Tour 2006” and “The Who Tour 2007/2008.”

Other temporary bass players who filled in for Entwistle and Palladino

Throughout The Who’s history, several temporary bass players have filled in for Entwistle and Palladino during their absences. These include Tony Butler of The Fixx, who played on the 1997 album “Psychoderelict,” and Pete Townshend’s brother Simon Townshend, who has played with the band on several occasions. Other notable session musicians have also contributed to the band’s sound during these periods, showcasing the adaptability and enduring legacy of The Who.

The Current Bass Player: Jon Button

Background and Experience

Jon Button is a highly skilled and experienced bass player, known for his technical proficiency and versatility. He has been a member of The Who’s touring band since 2019, replacing the iconic bassist John Entwistle. Button has a background in jazz and classical music, which has influenced his unique playing style. He has also played with various bands and artists throughout his career, gaining valuable experience and exposure.

Bringing his own style to the band

Jon Button has brought a fresh perspective to The Who’s sound, incorporating elements of jazz and classical music into their iconic rock songs. He uses a variety of techniques, including fingerpicking and slapping, to add texture and depth to the band’s music. Button’s solos are notable for their melodic and harmonic complexity, showcasing his technical mastery and creativity.

Impact of his contributions to The Who’s sound

Jon Button’s contributions to The Who’s sound have been praised by both fans and critics. His playing adds a new dimension to the band’s music, giving it a modern and innovative feel. Button’s style complements the classic sound of The Who, enhancing their songs without overshadowing them. He has earned a place in the band’s history, carrying on the legacy of John Entwistle while adding his own unique touch.

The Importance of the Bass Player in The Who

The Bass Player’s Role in Creating a Strong Rhythm Section

  • The interplay between the drums and bass
    The interplay between the drums and bass is a crucial aspect of creating a strong rhythm section. The bass player must work closely with the drummer to ensure that the two instruments are working together to create a cohesive sound. This interplay is particularly important in The Who’s music, as the band’s sound is heavily influenced by the combination of guitar, drums, and bass.
  • The importance of locking in with the drummer
    Another important aspect of the bass player’s role in creating a strong rhythm section is the ability to lock in with the drummer. This means that the bass player must be able to play in time with the drummer, creating a solid foundation for the rest of the band to build upon. In The Who’s music, this lock-in is essential to creating the driving, energetic sound that the band is known for.
  • Examples of strong rhythm sections in The Who’s music
    There are many examples of strong rhythm sections in The Who’s music, particularly in their early albums. One notable example is the song “My Generation,” which features a powerful and driving rhythm section that helps to drive the song forward. Another example is “I Can See for Miles,” which features a complex and intricate rhythm section that showcases the band’s musical abilities. These examples demonstrate the importance of the bass player’s role in creating a strong rhythm section in The Who’s music.

The Bass Player’s Impact on the Band’s Sound

The bass player in The Who has a significant impact on the band’s sound. John Entwistle, the original bass player, was known for his unique tones and techniques, which added a distinct flavor to the band’s music. Even today, the current bass player, Jon Button, continues to contribute to the band’s sound by incorporating his own style and techniques. The impact of the bass player on the band’s sound is evident in their live performances and recordings.

Unique Tones and Techniques of John Entwistle

John Entwistle, also known as “The Ox,” was a pioneering bass player who was known for his unique tones and techniques. He was a master of the instrument and his playing style was characterized by his use of distortion, feedback, and heavy basslines. Entwistle’s distinctive sound was a crucial element of The Who’s music, and his contributions to the band’s sound are still felt today.

Jon Button’s Contributions to the Band’s Sound

Jon Button, the current bass player for The Who, has a distinct style that adds to the band’s sound. He is known for his ability to seamlessly blend with the other members of the band, while still adding his own unique flair to their music. Button’s playing style is characterized by his use of both traditional and unconventional techniques, which allows him to create a wide range of sounds and textures.

Potential for Future Bass Players to Shape the Band’s Sound

The bass player in The Who has the potential to significantly shape the band’s sound. Future bass players will have the opportunity to incorporate their own style and techniques into the band’s music, which will undoubtedly change the band’s sound in some way. The bass player’s impact on the band’s sound is an important factor to consider when thinking about the future of The Who.


1. Who is the current bass player for The Who?

The current bass player for The Who is Simon Townshend. He has been a member of the band since 1964 and has played on many of their most popular songs, including “My Generation” and “Pinball Wizard.”

2. Was John Entwistle the original bass player for The Who?

Yes, John Entwistle was the original bass player for The Who. He co-founded the band in 1964 and played bass on many of their classic songs, including “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” and “Tommy.” Entwistle was known for his distinctive playing style and was considered one of the most influential bass players of his time.

3. What happened to John Entwistle?

John Entwistle died on June 27, 2002, at the age of 57. He was found dead in his hotel room in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a performance with The Who. The cause of death was determined to be a heart attack.

4. Has The Who ever had a different bass player besides John Entwistle and Simon Townshend?

The Who has not had a different bass player for any significant period of time besides John Entwistle and Simon Townshend. However, Pete Townshend, the band’s guitarist and songwriter, has occasionally played bass on some of their recordings and during live performances when John Entwistle was not available.

5. What kind of bass guitars do The Who’s bass players use?

Both John Entwistle and Simon Townshend have been known to use a variety of bass guitars over the years. John Entwistle was particularly famous for his use of a white Rickenbacker 4001 bass, which he often used on stage and in the studio. Simon Townshend has been seen using a variety of basses, including Fender Precision and Jazz basses, as well as other brands such as Gibson and Ampeg.

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