In a rare interview, bass legend Pino Palladino reflects on replacing The Who‘s John Entwistle on two days‘ notice

Pino Palladino
(Image credit: Sergione Infuso/Corbis via Getty Images)

Welsh bass virtuoso Pino Palladino has enjoyed a prolific career as a session musician, recording with pop superstars such as Adele and Ed Sheeran, playing bass in The Who after John Entwistle's death, and collaborating with the likes of D'Angelo, John Mayer, Elton John and many more.

What Palladino isn't is a prolific interviewee, preferring to let his bass guitar do the talking. But in an interview published today in The Guardian, he has spoken of the moment in 2002 when Pete Townshend called. John Entwistle had passed away: would Palladino fill in on the tour? 

“I flew to LA, thinking, what are you doing? You don’t even know many Who songs,“ said Palladino. Townshend was prepared, presenting him with a stack of CDs. 

That’s the one instruction you keep getting when you work with the Who: ‘Fucking turn it up, we can’t hear you!‘

As a session player who had overcome imposter syndrome to sit in with the likes of David Gilmour and Elton John, there was no question Palladino would get The Who's set down pat. But only after some helpful advice from Townshend.

“At the first rehearsal, Pete comes over and says: ‘You’re going to have to play louder’ – because I’m used to being the sympathetic musician, who fills in, doesn’t make a racket,“ said Palladino. That’s the one instruction you keep getting when you work with the Who: ‘Fucking turn it up, we can’t hear you!’”

Palladino also speaks about his career through the 80s, when he was on speed dial for any pop star who needed some four-string flair in the low end. But in a career that saw him play on some of the top-selling albums of all time, Palladino considers his collaboration with neo soul pioneer D'Angelo, as bassist of the Soulquarians, the personal highlight.

“D’Angelo – I’d mention him in the same breath as Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway and Sly Stone,“ said Palladino. “It’s incredible, to be a Welsh guy, having no real connections to these guys other than music that we loved and played.“

Palladino has just released Notes With Attachments with the Californian guitarist and composer Blake Mills, available now through New Deal Records. You can read his interview with The Guardian here.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.