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Author Topic: Why did Brian quit playing bass?  (Read 13061 times)
aeijtzsche
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« Reply #75 on: August 14, 2012, 05:41:41 PM »

I always wondered how much time Carl took to teach Brian the Bass. After all, Brian was a piano player, not a guitar player. Usually it's easier to learn the Bass if you're already a guitar player, right? Brian had the bass notes on the piano and in his head but I just wondered how much Brian actually practiced playing the Fender Precision before going out on the road in late '63 and most of '64. I guess he knew how to read the bass notes while playing bass back then.

Dunno if this was covered either, but Brian played in a rudimentary fashion, only using his right thumb to pluck the strings as opposed to using his other fingers. Not sure if he used a pick on the road; I think probably just his thumb. Looking at the Lost video though (and other TV shows) it looks like he held his own on bass - he moved his fingers around the neck pretty good. Kinda held it 3/4 vertical most of the time.

It's a good question.  The thing is Brian already MENTALLY was a bass player...if you break down his piano playing style, all the action is in the left hand.  He's generally comping  chords in the right and the left is moving all over the place.  I just learned "Surf's Up," for example, and the left hand at the end is devilish hard to play.  "Wild Honey" too...all those crazy bass patterns on that song and on that album are derived from piano patterns.  Not for nothing did McCartney credit him for completely changing his own mindset about the bass guitar.


Here's a more pedestrian question: what about blisters in your right thumb? You're supposed to get them no matter what from playing the bass. Brian toured quite a bit as a bass player... how come he kept using his thumb to perform? Does any bass player here not get blisters from playing bass with their thumb? I tried to do so as a teenager, just because I wanted to be Brian, but had to switch to pick using shortly because of -painful- blisters.

You get a callus.
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Jukka
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« Reply #76 on: August 15, 2012, 01:21:39 AM »

Yep, playing bass with your fingers is painful at first, but the calluses form pretty soon. Think of all the guys who play bass with their middle and index finger.

By the way, I've read that Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) puts superglue to his thumb and allows it to harden before gig, to make it stand all that ferocious slapping without bleeding.
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« Reply #77 on: August 15, 2012, 02:41:32 AM »

Here's a more pedestrian question: what about blisters in your right thumb? You're supposed to get them no matter what from playing the bass. Brian toured quite a bit as a bass player... how come he kept using his thumb to perform? Does any bass player here not get blisters from playing bass with their thumb? I tried to do so as a teenager, just because I wanted to be Brian, but had to switch to pick using shortly because of -painful- blisters.

There's a noticeable bump on my thumb and I've had pains in it before but never quite had blisters, but then I've only been playing for just over 4 years and I've been playing mostly for writing/recording instead of performing so I don't pay too regularly/intensively these days. At the rate Brian was playing on the road you'd think it would get quite painful or tiring but I guess he must have just powered through it?
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« Reply #78 on: August 15, 2012, 12:50:23 PM »

I never said that he was the band's bass player. But he did occasionally play the bass on stage too. There are pictures floating around.
BTW I never heard that anyone ever said that Blondie was the bass player. This comes as a surprise to me

No problem.  As I read your post, you seemed to infer Ed was playing bass because Blondie wasn't there, while Ed played almost all of the bass in the live shows during their time together, then I realized your wording was because the source it listed Ed as not being there.  But again, Blondie's not being there wouldn't have impacted who played bass in his absence because it more than likely wouldn't have been him anyway. 

And although I could be wrong, I don't think I've ever seen a one of Blondie playing bass in a actual live setting (with an audience and the band not miming).


Oh ok. I hope my post didn't sound harsh. Sometimes it's hard to exactly say what you mean in english when that's not yur first language.
But I have to say that I really never heard about anyone saying/claiming that Blondie was the bass player. Do you hear that often?

BTW I seem to remember seeing at least one picture of Blondie playing bass as a Beach Boy on stage. I couldn't find any though while looking on Google
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« Reply #79 on: August 15, 2012, 04:40:00 PM »

It's OK.  The only reason I went back into detail is yes, I do hear people say it quite often (sometimes even around here).  As I said, the Beach Boys have more than their fair share of myths and while I can't do anything to rectify them in the way Mr Stebbins has, I've taken it upon myself to try and debunk this particular one whenever I think it may apply.  No hard feels at all.   Cool
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« Reply #80 on: August 15, 2012, 05:01:18 PM »

I always wondered how much time Carl took to teach Brian the Bass. After all, Brian was a piano player, not a guitar player. Usually it's easier to learn the Bass if you're already a guitar player, right? Brian had the bass notes on the piano and in his head but I just wondered how much Brian actually practiced playing the Fender Precision before going out on the road in late '63 and most of '64. I guess he knew how to read the bass notes while playing bass back then.

Dunno if this was covered either, but Brian played in a rudimentary fashion, only using his right thumb to pluck the strings as opposed to using his other fingers. Not sure if he used a pick on the road; I think probably just his thumb. Looking at the Lost video though (and other TV shows) it looks like he held his own on bass - he moved his fingers around the neck pretty good. Kinda held it 3/4 vertical most of the time.

It's a good question.  The thing is Brian already MENTALLY was a bass player...if you break down his piano playing style, all the action is in the left hand.  He's generally comping  chords in the right and the left is moving all over the place.  I just learned "Surf's Up," for example, and the left hand at the end is devilish hard to play.  "Wild Honey" too...all those crazy bass patterns on that song and on that album are derived from piano patterns.  Not for nothing did McCartney credit him for completely changing his own mindset about the bass guitar.


Here's a more pedestrian question: what about blisters in your right thumb? You're supposed to get them no matter what from playing the bass. Brian toured quite a bit as a bass player... how come he kept using his thumb to perform? Does any bass player here not get blisters from playing bass with their thumb? I tried to do so as a teenager, just because I wanted to be Brian, but had to switch to pick using shortly because of -painful- blisters.

Didn't McCartney play with his thumb?

John Entwisle was amazing as he'd pretty much play the bass with his entire right hand.
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« Reply #81 on: August 15, 2012, 05:27:23 PM »

McCartney?  Possibly on rare occasion but he almost always used a pick, aside from some select ballads and even then, usually used his fingers.

Amen on the Entwistle comment.  Grin
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 08:44:58 AM by Phoenix » Logged
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« Reply #82 on: August 16, 2012, 12:10:25 AM »

Well, why should Bruce have to contribute anything to the band live when he can just sit there and clap and get paid all the same? Wouldn't it be socialist to demand that he actually do something unless he's to be paid on a per-note basis?

 LOL Thumbs Up
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« Reply #83 on: November 26, 2012, 10:24:22 AM »



And although I could be wrong, I don't think I've ever seen a one of Blondie playing bass in a actual live setting (with an audience and the band not miming).



These were just posted in the picture-thread in the media section on this board. There are a couple of pictures with londie playing bass on stage

http://www.chrisenglishphotography.com/galleries/the-beach-boys/ui/2114814065095abe6d6572
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a diseased bunch of mo'fos if there ever was one… their beauty is so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.

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To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

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« Reply #84 on: November 26, 2012, 05:59:30 PM »

I always thought Brian stopped playing bass on stage due to stage fright. It's hard for him to stand up and look at the audience for an extended period of time. He looked really uncomfortable standing in front of a mike and singing even when he was young and supposedly healthy. Now that he's older, he had back problems that make it hard to stand and carry an instrument around his neck. The medications he's on may also make it hard for him to stand for a long time (some medications make people feel unsteady on their feet if they stand for awhile, and he takes a few different ones).
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« Reply #85 on: November 26, 2012, 07:08:19 PM »

These were just posted in the picture-thread in the media section on this board. There are a couple of pictures with londie playing bass on stage

http://www.chrisenglishphotography.com/galleries/the-beach-boys/ui/2114814065095abe6d6572

Wow!  Sho 'nuff!  Thanks!  I've since learned that there were a few tunes Blondie always played bass on (tho he was still, by no means "the bass player"); one being "Surf's Up" which I thought was kinda cool.  Can anyone remember the others?  That also raises another question:  How/why would they decide on a song's arrangement/configuration?  I mean, it makes sense if Carl or Dennis were moving to piano for a song (usually one of they're own), or if Carter was moving to lead guitar when they wanted a "shredding" solo, or if Ricky moved to guitar or flute or something, or Bruce moved to bass for the kick line in "Help Me Rhonda", etc.  But why on earth would they go, "OK, 'Surf's Up'.  Blondie, why don't you play bass on this one."  I mean the arrangement is pretty sparse on that one and I can't see why Ed wouldn't just play that one too. 

For that matter, why did the band keep playing with two drummers after Dennis died?  Before that it made sense.  If Dennis was the primary drummer, they needed the designated percussionist to cover if he wanted to move out front, play piano, or (towards the end of his tenure) leave the stage or just not show up.  The same goes for when Ricky was the main drummer and he moved to guitar or whatever.  But as I pointed out in a discussion about the (awful) 25th Anniversary Special, Bobby and Mike K. just switch back and forth between drums and percussion for what appears to be no logical reason.  If they felt they really needed an extra guy on percussion (which I don't think they did) why not just have one guy play it all night and keep the other guy behind the kit?  Like Blondie playing bass on "Surf's Up" or whatever, it seems like an unnecessary change in the middle of the show. 

It might sound like I'm putting too much thought into this but from a musician's stand point, it's just not very practical in terms of staging a show.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 12:58:21 AM by Phoenix » Logged
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« Reply #86 on: November 26, 2012, 07:09:20 PM »

Oh and another question about those pics:  Who's that on the downstage electric piano in some of the shots?

Thanks!
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« Reply #87 on: November 26, 2012, 08:24:39 PM »

For that matter, why did the band keep playing with two drummers after Dennis died?  Before that it made sense.  If Dennis was the primary drummer, they needed the designated percussionist to cover if he wanted to move out front, play piano, or (towards the end of his tenure) leave the stage or just not show up.  The same goes for when Ricky was the main drummer and he moved to guitar or whatever.  But as I pointed out in a discussion about the (awful) 25th Anniversary Special, Bobby and Mike K. just switch back and forth between drums and percussion for what appears to be no logical reason.  If they felt they really needed an extra guy on percussion (which I don't think they did) why not just have one guy play it all night and keep the other guy behind the kit?  Like Blondie playing bass on "Surf's Up" or whatever, it seems like an unnecessary change in the middle of the show. 

Different drummers have different strengths. Even on the most recent tour, John Cowsill played some songs and Mike D'amico played on others.
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« Reply #88 on: November 26, 2012, 09:35:34 PM »

[Different drummers have different strengths. Even on the most recent tour, John Cowsill played some songs and Mike D'amico played on others.

Yeah but on the C50, Mike D. only played the "Brian rarities" that Cowsill didn't know (or hadn't played regularly) and that was only because he'd played them more recently and/or was just more familiar to him.  Any song that was part of Mike & Bruce's setlist or "new" to either guy was played by Cowsill.  In the case of Bobby and Mike K. you're talking about two guys that had both been the "second" drummer (and probably first whenever Dennis was MIA), meaning they both knew all, or at least all the same songs.  It makes me wonder how they picked who played what.  If one of them was a better drummer (as we know Bobby was in the much later years), why not just keep the other guy on percussion all night?  Also at the 25th show (and probably accompanying tour at least) the percussion set up included a full electric kit that even included a bass drum which makes it even more pointless to have the two guys switching back and forth.  Like I said, it just isn't very practical, or at least wasn't for a very long time.
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« Reply #89 on: November 27, 2012, 09:03:53 PM »

If one of them was a better drummer (as we know Bobby was in the much later years), why not just keep the other guy on percussion all night?

To keep the other guy motivated.
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« Reply #90 on: February 25, 2013, 03:05:35 AM »

In response to AdamGhost remarking that Dennis is one of his true drummer idols:



Yeah, Dennis ruled as a drummer! People say he couldn't play, whatever, had limited chops! Watch him on "Lost Concert" for instance, the guy is rolling all over his kit and kicking ass! That was cool enough, but how he simplified his technique later on was a great decision for the sake of the sound of the band as a whole. Those simple straight ahead ,heavy on the 2 (snare and floor tom) beats were awesome. Dennis is also one of the only guys I've seen blow complicated fills and save himself in a kick ass way! He does it a few times on the Knebworth DVD, he starts some kick-ass fill, loses it and comes slamming back on the 2 without missing a beat!!!!
[/quote]
Anyone that says Dennis wasn't a good drummer or that he hardly played on their albums is the biggest idiot and a disgrace to Beach Boys aficionados!
Everyone knows that Hal Blaine was THE MAN but Dennis held his own on stage and was just as good if not BETTER than mr. ladybug mop top Ringo.
First of all Dennis always had a strong rhythm and he played in a very very unorthodox fashion known as "open-handed" meaning that he was left handed, kept his timing with his left hand but played with the drums set up as if a right handed dude was playing WITHOUT crossing his arms!!!
So what if Dennis wasn't technical, he held down the beat and had more charisma than ANY legendary drummer in a supergroup.
I'm a drummer and he was the reason I wanted to be one.
 
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« Reply #91 on: February 08, 2014, 03:57:57 AM »

I continue to wonder whatever happened to Brian's bass's over the years.....

I posted this on the blueboard some time back and never got a response for it..

especially the first couple, the sunburst one in the first early shows, and the classic white precision used

as seen in the 64' clips.........   what happened to them?........ I mean we are talking about Brian Wilson's bass guitars!!!

I still also admire and love his playing technique...... who else can rock out on surfin usa and dance dance dance on a bass without using a pick?!!!!

watching his 'thumb' technique is awesome......... I wonder how and why he went with that when he could have used a pick?

Great thead by the way!

RickB
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« Reply #92 on: February 08, 2014, 07:05:12 AM »

It was great to see how lively he was on the bass back in the day.  Wish he could play at least one sng live nowadays on it rather than just single notes to Barbara Ann, even if it is still cool to see him standing there with it on and imagine how he used to be. I'm sure he could still play it (once a genius always a genius) and maybe one day he'll whip out the Olympic white Fender Precision!
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