Pino Palladino: Bass Superman
One of the most respected and admired bass players in music today, Pino Palladino has such an array of amazing bass chops and feel that it's almost ridiculous.
Pino's ability to fit his unique style into any type of music and not only make it work but make sound great is a rare skill indeed.
The complete package, Pino can make it funky, melodic and anything in between all the while serving the song perfectly. Never getting in the way of the other musicians, Pino always adds just the right feel to the track.
Born in Cardiff, Wales on October 17th 1957, Palladino originally started on guitar but at age 16 he picked up a friends bass and realized that this was the instrument for him. Soon after he buys a Fender Precision and not long after that begins his journey as a professional bass player.
Heavily influenced by James Jamereson, Stevie Wonder, Michael Henderson, Jaco Pastorius and Paul Jackson, Pino begins to develop his own personal style and technique. After playing for a local Cardiff television station Pino moves to London in 1980 to join a band led by Jools Holland of Squeeze. As Pino began to make a name for himself in London he soon became a highly sought after session player.
It was around this time where Pino began using a fretless Music Man Stingray (another company started by Leo Fender). His highly expressive lead fretless bass line for Paul Young's cover of "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" became an instant classic. Pino also worked with Gary Numan on his album I, Assassin. Newman has stated that he was blown away by his amazing bass playing, and that his unusual fretless tone defined the album with it's atmospheric and dreamy quality.
In the early 1990's Pino switched from his fretless Musicman Stingray to a fretted sunburst 1963 Fender Precision bass with La Bella flatwound strings. The change was both a musical and personal decision. Pino had grown tired of the lead fretless sound but also felt the need to return to his love of the old R&B and soul bass sound.
After recording an album with Tom Jones and B.B. King, Pino caught the attention of hip-hop artist D'Angelo who was looking for a certain bass sound for his new album, Voodoo. Palladino's greasy, fat, laid back grooves on his 63' P-Bass gave the recording an old school vibe that had a large impact not only on bassists but on entire rhythm sections in general. This led to many more session jobs in the neo-soul style for the now very in demand bassist.
Pino's uncanny ability to adapt to any style and make it his own is what truly sets him apart from the ordinary session bassist. This amazing feel and intuition allows him to be both expressive and tasteful with his bass lines. Pino has stated that has something he calls "trust chops"...instincts that help him figure out what to play through difficult sections.
After the untimely death in 2002 of the great bassist John Entwistle of the Who, Pino was asked by the surviving members to play bass for the remainder of that tour (now he's their permanent bassist). Having played with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey before made this very daunting task a little easier for him, Palladino also personally knew Entwistle.
For the Who gig Pino started with both Fender Precisions and Jazz basses, finally settling on Fender Jaguar basses, which he likes for their powerful cutting tone. He has said many times that playing with the Who is like a dream come true and sometimes he can hardly believe that he's on stage with them.
Pino has stated that Pete Townshend has given him full freedom with the bass lines, although he tries to keep them as faithful to John's original lines as possible. In 2003 Pino started working with Paul Simon for his tour and recorded an album with him in 2006. For this gig he used his fiesta red 1961 Fender Precision with flatwound strings.
Palladino has also had the great honor of having Fender issue a signature bass in his name. The Fender Pino Palladino Precision Bass is a custom shop creation featuring a body modeled after his 61' Precision and the neck shape after his 63' P-Bass. The bass is finished in fiesta red over desert sand and given the relic treatment by the custom shop craftsmen.
During the Tsunami Aid benefit concert in 2005, Pino met guitarist John Mayer through drummer Steve Jordan. After original bassist Willie Weeks was unable to perform, Pino was asked to fill for the concert. The three hit it off well in the studio, Pino later stating that there was instant chemistry between the three musicians. They later decided to form a power trio and set up some tour dates. The John Mayer Trio was born and this gave Palladino a new opportunity to add creatively in a band context.
In 2006 Pino joined Jeff Beck for a tour and also worked with Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Derek Trucks and Billy Preston on an album. He's also played with Robbie Robertson and Herbie Hancock and worked on a follow up to the Voodoo album with D'Angelo.
Pino Palladino is probably the most sought after bassist in music today and for good reason. His bass chops, great tone, and musical insticts are unparalleled in the industry. We look foward to more great work from Pino for many years to come.