Weekend Open Thread – Remembering Thunderfingers

| May 10, 2019

I once worked with a guy who’d played part-time in a band. His contention – and I’ve heard the same from multiple other sources – was that a rock-n-roll band’s rhythm section (bass/drums) were the true heart and soul of the band. If they were solid, the band would rock; if not, not so much.

IMO there’s a lot of truth in that statement. Both of those instruments (bass and drums) seem to connect at a different level, and in a different way, than the other mainstays of a modern band (guitar, keyboards). I think they influence the emotions more directly – and there’s no doubt that they indeed generally form the bedrock on which the rest of the band builds its musical product.

That said, there are exceptions to every rule. And that brings me to the subject of today’s article.

Yeah, what follows is yet another musical “walkabout”. You still have time to quit reading; continue at your own peril. (smile)

. . .

The bassist in a typical rock-n-roll band doesn’t generally lead. Instead, he/she provides (along with the drummer) a rhythmic foundation. The bassist in particular usually follows or compliments the song’s melody (or basic guitar riff, which is often different than the vocal melody), leaving excursions and departures for the vocalists, keyboardists, and/or guitarists. Yes, both the drummer and bassist do get a chance to add their flourishes on occasion. But in general, they provide the underpinnings on which vocalists, guitarists, and keyboardists build.

IMO, they’re underappreciated. But such is life.

Still, the great ones know when to follow convention – and when to ignore it. And one of the greatest in my lifetime at ignoring convention was the late John Entwistle. Ditto his band, The Who.

. . .

Entwistle was the only member of The Who with formal musical training. He first studied the piano as a child (which he didn’t much like). He later changed to the trumpet. But when he started playing in bands, he found that his trumpet was getting buried by amplified instruments – so he changed to the guitar.

Entwistle grew to be a large youth (and later a large man). His fingers were also large – and he liked the lower tones, á la Duane Eddy. So he decided to play the bass guitar instead of a standard guitar.

His size (and stamina) gave him one of his two nicknames. After joining the band that later became The Who, his bandmates found he could do more – and continue longer – than most people. So the nickname “Ox” seemed to fit, and became his.

His other nickname? It’s contained in the title of this article. If you’ve ever listened to his work, the nickname is self-explanatory.

Here are four cuts that demonstrate his exceptional talent. The first is from The Who’s early days; the other three are from their heyday.

The first is “My Generation”. It actually features Entwistle playing a dedicated bass solo – and quite a good one at that, IMO.

The second and third demonstrate precisely why his 2nd nickname “Thunderfingers” is apropos. Both also show that Entwistle could indeed bass play conventionally when required.

Finally, what I consider Entwistle’s absolute masterpiece. If you’ve never done it, put on some good headphones, raise the volume a bit, and listen very closely to Entwistle’s bass on the track that follows (“Won’t Get Fooled Again”). I think you’ll find it worth the time.

From approximately 0’45” to around 6’50”, Entwistle plays what IMO amounts to a trio of modified, constrained solos – with two brief periods (the first two choruses) being the only time where he plays anything approaching a conventional bass line. I swear, I don’t think there are more than a couple of bars in the rest of that 6 minute segment that are exactly the same – and if there are, I think those may be coincidence vice design. And by constraining his excursions while playing, Entwistle manages to make what is effectively a trio of solos fit as the song’s bass track.

Remarkable. Absolutely remarkable.

Entwistle is generally regarded as one of the best bassists in rock-n-roll history. I’ve certainly got no problem with that characterization.

. . .

Entwistle’s personality fit well with his bandmates. Publicly, he was “the quiet one” – but this was a bit of an act. In private, he was reputedly as much of an “out there” hell-raiser (albeit doing so behind the scenes vice in public) as Keith Moon, one of the rock era’s notorious early wild men. While he took his music seriously, he also liked to have a “jolly good time” as well. He also had a somewhat macabre sense of humor.

Per Wikipedia, Entwistle died at age 57 in a Vegas hotel room of a heart attack sometime early on June 27, 2002just before The Who were to start their 2002 US tour. The person who discovered his demise was reputedly a stripper with whom he’d spent the previous night. Cocaine was also reputedly involved.

Sex and drugs and rock-n-roll? Yeah, sure looks like it – all the way to the end.

Some would call the circumstances Entwistle’s demise tragic; others, in character and fitting. Decide for yourself which – or if it’s perhaps both simultaneously.

RIP, Ox. We hardly knew ye. Thanks for the memories – and the music.

. . .

OK, so much for today’s musical walkabout; “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it”. (smile) Enjoy the WOT, everyone – and the weekend.

Category: Open thread, Pointless blather, Who knows

Comments (37)

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  1. 5th/77th FA says:


    • ChipNASA says:

      Second. Congrats on the First new TAH (temporary) first.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      1 PM on the nose.
      You are the man. First guy in line.
      I’ll bet you fired your Gun first every damn time. And there were no adjustments for additional rounds.

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    Bam Bam Bam Bam!!!!!!!!!!! Time on Target!!!

    Artillery!!!!!!!!!!!King of Battle!!!!!!!!Winner of Wars!!!!!!

    Take that dickweeds!!!!!!!!! Let the lording over commence!!!!!!!!

    FIRST on the FIRST TAH New Servers Coveted Friday Weekend Open Thread!!!!!!!!!

    • The Stranger says:

      Settle down, junior. As your pappy the Engineer would say…act like you’ve been there before!🤣

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Bobby Lee, an Engineer, AKA King of Spades. Stated many times his favorite Combat Arm was the Artillery. Compared the loading and firing akin to a stylized waltz. Personally trained BG Henry Hunt, Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Potomac, in the use of the King of Battle. Bit Ol’ Marse Robert on the butt at Malvern Hill and Gettysburg.

        Tom Jackson (Blue Fire/Stonewall) The FIRST to use electronic communication to fire over the obstructions the Engineers built to help win the Mexican War.

        Artillery…Brings dignity to what would otherwise be considered a vulgar brawl.

        • Just An Old Dog says:

          Interesting, well Hunt was a prominent Artilleryman I never have read accounts of them serving together. They attended West Point over a Decade apart and Lee’s later service there was after Hunt Graduated.
          Lee was an engineer and later a Cavalry Officer, never commanding Artillery.

          • 5th/77th FA says:

            Trying to find my source, but Lee and Hunt were both at Ft Hamilton in New York for awhile, pre Mexican War. They also served together, Lee on the staff of Winfield Scott at Chapultepec as a Major, and Hunt with the batteries. It was there that the young Lt TJ Jackson caught their eye. Lee semi admired Napoleon, not for his politics, but for his use of massed batteries to “soften ’em up” before the infantry was committed, and then to have supporting fires as they advanced. Some of our more learned compatriots who are graduates of the Hudson River School for Wayward Boys may can add more for us. (go army beat navy)

            From this date in history, 10 May 1863, that former LT TJ Jackson crossed over the River to rest ‘neath the Shade of The Tree. Deo Vindice!

  3. Mason says:


  4. Cameron Kingsley says:

    For all you train lovers on here and in honor of the Big Boy, I am going to share a video from my childhood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4BWsYbJROQ&t=946s

    I also enjoy the rail transportation around the Disney parks as many of their locomotives are not custom made but original pieces (at least in the United States). Walt Disney World is my favorite as they re the largest and all of them are original, this link shows what they looked like after they were purchased from the Ferrocarriles Unidos de Yucatán in Mexico: https://www.mouseplanet.com/6779/Steam_Train_Tour_Part_3

    My last link is to the Wikipedia page because I don’t want to overload on links. If you scroll to the bottom, you can see what they look like in all of the different parks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney_World_Railroad

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      Cool linkies CK. Lubs me some trains. Get a chance check out the South Dakota State Rail Road Museum. They have a webbie and an in your face space book page thingie. Lot’s of stuff out there on the Bailey Rail Fest Yard in Nebraska. That one is on my bucket list.

    • I got on the right track by watching the Big Boy video on youtube.

    • Bim says:

      I remember seeing a 4-8-8-4 Big Boy at the Bellows Falls (VT) train museum as a young boy. 1+ million pounds of American iron sitting there, lame, and waiting for a chance to hit the rails again. The size of her was awe inspiring.

      The thought that we built 50 of those beasts, and they were each able to drive a mile of freight cars over the Rockies at 70MPH during the dark days of WWII amazed me. It still does.

      This makes me happy. Thanks for the link.

  5. 5th/77th FA says:

    Outstanding Posting Bro. The WHO. The. Best. Rock. and. Roll. Band….EVAH

    And you are correct. The Bass Guitar, just as Artillery, is the backbone of any assault on the audio and physical sensory receptors. The Who was the Band that caused me and some buds to form us a little 3 piece garage band way back yonder. We had a small town AM station that was one of the FIRST to run FM at night and played what was to become the Classic Oldie R & R. I plunked on the Bass, initially cause it was all I could afford, second cause I liked the thump it made, and 3rd because of John “Ox’ Entwistle. I was blessed to see them many a time live, the last time was at Veterans Arena in Jax back in ’15 for their Who Turns 50 Tour. I wore out several copies of LP, 8 tr, cassette, and DVDs over the years. Long Live Rock.

    Tanks for the memories!

    • Comm Center Rat says:

      “I woke up in a Soho doorway
      The policeman knew my name
      He said, “You can go sleep at home tonight
      If you can get up and walk away”
      I staggered back to the underground
      The breeze blew back my hair
      I remembered throwing punches around
      And preachin’ from my chair”

      “Who are you
      Who who who who
      Who are you
      Who who who who”

      The Who Are You album was released on 18 August 1978. Three weeks later Keith Moon died.

      I was never a fan of the Beatles or Stones. Still listen to The Who and I think Pete Townsend is the greatest rock n’ roll lyricist in UK history.

      Long live rock, I need it every day!!

  6. Commissioner Wretched says:

    Well, hell. No wonder I’m not first … I kept going to the old address.

    Since I missed it … here’s this week’s trivia column. You may have noticed that I’ll use any excuse to post the trivia column, or even no excuse at all. Hope you enjoy it!

    Is there a city in the United States that is named after a game show?
    By Commissioner Wretched

    For most of the people who read this silly column, May – the month we are now a whole week into – means one thing, and one thing only.

    School will soon be out.

    As a former teacher, I can tell you that there is only one group of people who look forward to the end of school more than students do … and that’s the teachers.

    What really bothers me, though, is this: if you check stores about two weeks after school lets out, they’re already starting their “Back to School” sales.

    I mean, what the heck? Can’t the kids (and the teachers) enjoy just a bit of their annual vacation before the retail establishment starts reminding them that they’ll soon be back in the classrooms?

    Summer vacation ends early enough, doesn’t it? Do we really need to know about “Back to School” before the ink is dry on the June calendar?

    (By that token, can’t we at least wait until Halloween is over before the Christmas merchandise hits the shelves?)

    Since this is the point in my rants where I say, “And get off my lawn!” I’ll just segue as smoothly as I can into this week’s trivia. Enjoy the break when it gets here, kids (and teachers).

    Did you know …

    … the eagle is the animal used most as a college sports mascot? A total of 74 schools call their sports team the Eagles. (In case you’re wondering, the weirdest sports teams ever were the Fighting Okra of Delta State University and the Zips of the University of Akron. No joke here; I couldn’t come up with anything funnier.)

    … Halley’s Comet is expected to return in 2061? Its last visit was in 1986, and prior to that, 1910. Though the comet has been noted every 75 or so years since pre-history, it was Sir Edmund Halley (1656-1742) who determined its orbit and successfully predicted its return. For that, the comet was named after him. (I saw Halley’s Comet when it appeared back in ‘86. For something as ballyhooed as it was, it didn’t impress me. I think I’ll try to hang on for the next visit.)

    … it would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 for a person to have their entire body tattooed? (Not me, brother. I hate needles.)

    … the only place in the United States to be named for a television program is the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Originally known as Hot Springs, the city renamed itself as part of a stunt on the radio game show Truth or Consequences, which offered to host the program live from any city that would change its name to that of the program. The name brought much attention, and town leaders decided to keep it after the 1950 broadcast. Additional trivia note: in addition to being a radio quiz show, Truth or Consequences was also a long-running television game show. Its creator and original host, Ralph Edwards (1913-2005), visited the New Mexico city every year from 1950 until his death. The town’s main park is named for Edwards. Others who hosted the show were Jack Bailey (1907-1980), Bob Barker (born 1923), Steve Dunne (1918-1977), Bob Hilton (born 1943), and Larry Anderson (born 1952). Barker’s tenure was the longest, at 19 years, from 1956 to 1975. (My favorite question from that show: What is an Optometrist’s Cocktail? One drink and you make a spectacle of yourself.)

    … the popular Snickers candy bar was named after a horse? The bar was named after a favorite horse of the Mars family, which made and sold the candy bar. (Named after a horse? Nay!)

    … a snail can sleep uninterrupted for three years? (I guess even their dreams are slow.)

    … one out of every three Girl Scout Cookies sold is a Thin Mint? (I ate a whole box of Thin Mints once. I didn’t get any thinner. I don’t think they work.)

    … the first parachute was used in 1797? Andre-Jacques Garnerin (1769-1823) used an early model of the parachute when he jumped out of a hydrogen balloon flying at 3,200 feet over Paris in 1797. Airplanes were not invented for another 106 years. (Since the great Apache chief Geronimo had not yet been born, I wonder what M. Garnerin yelled on the way down?)

    … it is illegal to put livestock on a school bus in Florida? (Watching some of those school bus videos makes me wonder just what “livestock” they’re referring to.)

    … the character of Mario the Plumber has appeared in 81 different video games? He made his first appearance in the original “Donkey Kong” game in 1981.

    … it is illegal for a wife to open her husband’s mail in Montana? (Depending on what’s in the mail, it could also be pretty dangerous – for the husband, that is.)

    … the Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius (born Kong Qiu, 551 BC-479 BC) has more than three million living descendants today?

    … J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), first director of the FBI, would fire any agent whose palms were sweaty when he shook their hand? (No comment.)

    … people who have pet fish fall asleep faster than people who don’t? (Proof that fish are pretty boring, I’d say.)

    … Switzerland has the highest rate of soft-drink consumption per capita in the world? (They haven’t seen me with a case of Diet Coke, have they?)

    … Henry Ford (1863-1947) did not actually invent the automobile? He did, however, invent the assembly-line system of making automobiles. What Ford also invented that advanced mankind is the charcoal briquet. (And outdoor cooks have been ecstatic ever since.)

    … catfish have more than 100,000 taste buds? (And nothing to taste. Sad, isn’t it?)

    Now … you know!

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      ^Like^ (+_+) Break the Thin Mints before you eat them. Fat grams escape upon breakage. Tag-a-longs are best. Soft drinks are only good for diluting/ruining good whiskey. Snickers Candy Bars…need I say more! Me Tv is free on broadcast Gunsmoke and other Classic Westerns everyday. Ever seen a cat fish? How does he hold his Zebco? Catfish fillets and cheese grits! num num num! Saw Halley’s Comet, more disappointing than my 2nd ex. J Edgars FIRST uniform a flapper dress? Mario wanted to emulate an early Allman Bros Band Album, eat a peach. If we wiped out a billion Chinese, they’d still outnumber us. Ford…FIRST On Race Day! Who wants to jump out of a perfectly good balloon? Ben Franklin suggested the turkey as the National Bird even tho cranberry jelly hadn’t been canned yet. Several Union Army Rgmts had eagle mascots, notably Old Abe with the WI Boys. My daughter is a teacher in FL. She can attest to the livestock on busses. Damn a snail and damn a tattoo!

      Keep ’em coming!

      • David says:

        Actually Eli Whitney invented the modern interchangeable-part production line. Ford merely applied it to car production. Think of it… Whitney invented the cotton gin, which made the South grow prosperous enough from slavery to fight for it. And he invented the production line which enabled Northern industry to win the same war.

    • AW1Ed says:

      I saw Halley’s Comet’s last lap around the sun in ’86 from the observer’s window on the mighty P-3 Orion. Neither the P-3 nor I will be around for the next showing.

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      College school mascots – the University of California, Irvine Anteaters (I’m not shitting you). My Dad worked there in the Maintenance Department and my younger brother was a grad.

      • NHSparky says:

        Pulp Fiction. 1994. John Travolta had on a UC Santa Cruz t-shirt of the Banana Slugs.

        I got that shirt as a Xmas gift a few years later from the ex. A couple of years after that, I was in Paris, and we visited the Louvre. Just so happened to be wearing the shirt that day (wink).

        A couple of blocks away, there was a McDonald’s, and lo and behold, I was able or order (no shit) a, “Royale with Cheese.”

        The picture of that experience went the way of my former marriage. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    Ran into two sailors (one female, one male) who are off to “A” school. Sailor (F) with the E-3 green stripes is going to AG “A” school. She is 3rd generation in her family in the Navy. Sailor (M) with the E-3 red stripes is going to EN “A” school. He said he may go right to “C” school after “A” school.

    Not all members of that generation are dingbats and silly. These two have their heads together. Kudos to them and to their families for raising them.

  8. streetsweeper says:

    Nay, Hondo. One of the Who’s best songs was actually a bit ahead of its time but, certainly applies to todays
    climate… Eminence Front

    • Hondo says:

      The above weren’t a list of what I consider The Who’s best, street. They were examples that highlighted Entwistle’s talent on the bass guitar.

      Eminence Front is a fine song, and could have been used above as an example of him playing more-or-less conventional style bass. (Hell, damn near any song by the band could have been used to illustrate Entwistle’s talent on the bass – IMO he really was that good.) I just thought the above 4 were good examples that covered the range of his talent.

  9. Frankie Cee says:

    I got the e-mail, with the link to the site, clicked it, and BAM! I am here, and got it bookmarked.I am getting ready to go out to the Army Ranger School Florida based Camp Rudder tomorrow. I is the 2019 Open House event. My good friend, Ranger Sgt Tim Spayd, Operation Eagle Claw, JTF1-79, afflicted with ALS, was recently honored with being named as a “Distinguished Member of the Ranger Training Brigade, (Honorary). Tim has got his ALS somewhat under control, and has walked 47 or more consecutive student classes, walking at least one day per class. He will be a participant in tomorrows assault demonstration. I have been keeping my time pretty well occupied, working with livestock on the farm, and raising my youngest dog from a pup to his 30 month old age of now. He is one hell of a farm dog, a wingman like no other to me, and the perfect example of all that an Atropian Shepherd should be. Dignified yet serious enough to be named “National Dog of Atropia”, long ago. Those who are on face book can see him over there. He is named “Neally Keneally” after Ranger LTC John Keneally, a former CO of the 6th Rangers Florida School.

  10. Roh-Dog says:

    Hey hey hey! Hope everyone is well.
    I got a turkey today! 4 inch beard and just the cutest little spurs. I probably would have let him pass but my girlfriend really wanted wild turkey and I have another tag… next time a monster, or a pot-filler again. What a way to ‘waste’ a BEAUTIFUL spring day!
    Have a GREAT weekend y’all!

  11. 26Limabeans says:

    Yesterday the wind was blowing pretty hard.
    The nearby windfarm was feathered and off line.
    Checked the Real Time data site for ISO New England. The demand was extremely low with nuke, nat gas, and hydro supplying the load.
    The marginal price was “negative” 2.5 cents per kwh.
    In other words, the wind was paid to stay off line because it did not have a load available.
    This particular farm is delivered to ISO NY where the ten year contracts are for 20 to 25 cents per kwh and most are in default.
    Wind is a scam that is unwinding as the rats flee for solar, the new scam frontier.

  12. Roh-Dog says:

    More corporate welfare brought to you by the socialist…
    Meanwhile in GA, the highest one will pay for residential service is 9.723 c/kWh.
    Here in the North East maybe there’s something in the water that makes people not understand economics.
    Picking ‘winners’ kills economies.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      I pay 10.39 cents per kwh bottom line sales tax included. I am not on the US grid. My power is mostly Hydro from NB Canada.
      The rest of Maine is on the US grid at twice that, bottom line.
      The reason it is cheap for me:
      1. Non union power company (think distribution charge)
      2. Customer owned power company that purchases in bulk contracts directly across the border on a dedicated line.
      3. Pulp mill is biggest customer (think low property tax).

      Economics indeed!