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Pino Palladino

Pino Palladino
Palladino performing with The Who in 2008.
Background information
Birth name Giuseppe Henry Palladino
Born October 1957 (age 58)
Cardiff, Wales
Genres Rock, soul, blues rock, funk
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Bass guitar
Years active 1974–present
Labels Verve, Atlantic
Associated acts The Who, John Mayer Trio, The RH Factor, The Law, Spinal Tap, Jools Holland, Paul Young, Genesis, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Richard Ashcroft, D'Angelo, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Roger Daltrey, Hank Marvin, Simon & Garfunkel, Erykah Badu, Adele, Nine Inch Nails, Joan Armatrading, Geraint Jarman, Mango, Gary Numan
Notable instruments
Pino Palladino Signature Fender Precision Bass
Fender Jaguar Bass
Music Man StingRay Fretless Bass

Giuseppe Henry "Pino" Palladino[1] (born 17 October 1957) is a Welsh bassist. He gained fame for playing primarily rock and roll, blues rock, and rhythm and blues music, although he has been lauded for his ability to play most genres of popular music, including jazz, neo soul, and funk.

His career has spanned several ensembles, including the John Mayer Trio and The RH Factor, which he formed with jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove. He was also Pete Townshend's and Roger Daltrey's first choice to fill the position left by John Entwistle as the bassist for The Who. More recently he has recorded and toured with D'Angelo and The Vanguard.

He has played on a large number of recordings. He is known for playing a late 1970s fretless Music Man StingRay bass guitar and, later in his career, fretted Fender Precision and Jaguar basses. His playing has earned him custom instruments bearing his name.[2]


  • Career 1
  • 1990s 2
    • Changes in instrument 2.1
    • Neo soul 2.2
  • 2000s 3
    • The Who 3.1
    • Paul Simon 3.2
    • Other appearances 3.3
  • Emergence of the John Mayer Trio 4
  • Influences on bass guitar 5
  • Technique 6
    • Pino Palladino signature model 6.1
  • After 2005 7
  • Discography (selected) 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Born in Cardiff to an Italian father from Campobasso,[3] Umberto Palladino and Welsh mother Ann Hazard,[4] Palladino began playing the electric guitar at age 14. By 17 he decided to play the bass guitar, and bought his first fretless bass one year later, playing mostly R&B, funk, and reggae within a rock and roll backbeat.[5] His first professional gig, at age 20, was at a local television station in Cardiff, where he began playing in 1978. That same year he joined Jools Holland's band and is credited on Holland's album, Jools Holland and His Millionaires. Touring with Holland to support the album gave him the opportunity to purchase his own Music Man StingRay Fretless Bass.[5] While Holland was touring with another new band, the Q-Tips, its frontman, Paul Young became acquainted with Palladino and a year later offered him a place in Paul Young's own backing band.

Palladino was featured on Gary Numan's 1982 album I, Assassin, in which his fretless bass playing made a prominent contribution to the overall sound of the album. He went on to play fretless bass with a healthy number of high-profile artists that include David Gilmour, Tears for Fears, Pete Townshend, Peter Gabriel, Go West, Joan Armatrading, Phil Collins, Chaka Khan and Don Henley.[5][6]

After Paul Young landed his own solo contract in 1982, Palladino was brought in as part of his backing band "The Royal Family" resulting in noticeable chart success with the No Parlez album,[5] and major hit singles both in the UK and Europe. Examples of Paul Young's newfound success were the band's cover of the Marvin Gaye classic Wherever I Lay My Hat, which reached No. 1 in the UK singles chart for three weeks in summer of 1983, and Love of the Common People. Palladino toured extensively at this time with Paul Young, remaining in the band for five years. 1983 additionally proved to be the year of another ensemble featuring Palladino, Paul Rodgers (formerly of Bad Company), drummer Kenney Jones, along with a rotating cast of other celebrity performers. The band only released one album through Atlantic, The Law, although there were enough out-takes that another bootleg-styled album followed in 1991. Sales were unremarkable, despite the names of those who recorded on the album.[2]

Throughout the 1980s Palladino was noted for his R&B roots on the fretless bass, even when supporting pop and rock heavy performers. One reviewer from Bass Player magazine points to Paul Young's cover of the Bobby Womack/ Rufus tune Stop on By (on 1990s Other Voices), with its "pre-hip-hop, swung funk groove" as the precursor to Palladino's later neo-soul focus.[7]


Changes in instrument

In the 1990s, Palladino began to alternate between the sounds achieved in playing the fretless bass to one with frets, as well as the 4-string and 6-string bass. At the time, he was well known within the industry for his fretless bass sound. However, now, depending on which artist he was supporting, and the song to be played, he began gravitating towards fretted bass. He was maturing as a musician, and played with artists as diverse as Melissa Etheridge, Richard Wright, Elton John and Eric Clapton. Also in 1991 he joined Paul Rodgers (of Free, Queen + Paul Rodgers, and Bad Company fame) to form the band The Law. In the mid-1990s, Palladino played bass for The London Metropolitan orchestra during their recording of An American Symphony, soundtrack for the movie Mr Holland's Opus.

In 1990 Palladino joined Mike Lindup (founding member of Level 42) to feature on Lindup's first solo album 'Changes', a song album with Dominic Miller on guitar, who later went onto work with Sting; and Manu Katché on drums.[8]

From 1991 to 1996, he joined Manu Katché to form Stephan Eicher's rhythm section on three albums : Engelberg (1991), Carcassonne (1993) and 1000 vies (1996).

Palladino supported Phil Collins, as a member of the house band for the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II, which played with Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard, and Tony Bennett, among other notable performers. He later wrote that he felt privileged to have been amongst the others on stage in such an event.

In 1999, he began working with Richard Ashcroft, of The Verve, during the recording sessions of Ashcroft's debut solo album, Alone With Everybody.[9] Richard proved to be mightily impressed by Palladino's natural bass playing ability;[10]

Palladino also joined Ashcroft's touring band for the singer's first major solo outing throughout 2000.[11]

Neo soul

By the mid- 1990s, Palladino had established himself as a busy, highly desirable bassist and a studio worker in many genres, but finally became visible to those artists who played largely left of center, and demand for his session playing grew within a different quarter. Palladino began moving from blues-rock toward neo soul projects. Palladino and Steve Jordan found themselves performing on the same session for B.B. King's 1997 duets CD Deuces Wild. It was the first time soul singer D'Angelo first heard Palladino, who had just switched from a signature sound fretless bass sound to that of performing with fretted basses. The result was an invitation to "use Pino's big, behind-the-beat bass to help cast a neo-soul spell on his Grammy Award-winning Voodoo album".[12] It would not be his only uncredited Grammy performance.

As the word spread throughout the genre, Palladino found an increasing demand. Examples of his bass work in this genre (in addition to D'Angelo) include much of the Soulquarians' production discography, such as Mama's Gun, and Penitentiary Philosophy found on Erykah Badu's 2000 CD.[7] Other albums using Palladino's sound include 1st Born Second for Bilal, Like Water for Chocolate and Electric Circus for Common. Palladino has been described by Steve Jordan, who got his own professional start playing the drums for Stevie Wonder, as having a "deep funk" side and a "melodic" side. Palladino admits that "Of all my influences, I would say what's always in the back of my mind is early Stevie Wonder, like Talking Book and Innervisions; that music is really in my blood."[13]


The Who

Following the death of The Who's bassist John Entwistle the night before the band were to kick off their first tour in two years, Palladino was their first choice to become the band's full-time touring bass guitarist, and by 2006, he was invited to join the remaining original band members in recording their first album in twenty-four years. Pete Townshend, the band's composer, recorded the bassline on the majority of the songs to get the effect he himself wanted, with Palladino doing so on the other six of them. Released in October 2006, the album was named Endless Wire.

Palladino also played with The Who at the Super Bowl XLIV half-time show, in February 2010, alongside other backing artists: Simon Townshend on guitar, Zak Starkey, drums and percussion, and John "Rabbit" Bundrick, on keyboard instruments.

Paul Simon

In 2003, Palladino intended to go down to see his old friend Paul Simon and meet Brian Eno for the first time. He was asked to record with them, and had to borrow a bass guitar to play. The result was that he played with Simon and Garfunkel on their Old Friends reunion tour and in an interview with Bass Player Magazine he mentions drummer Steve Gadd and percussionist Jamey Haddad "had laid down some great grooves for me to add bass". He had kept the recordings, and by the time that he appeared on the Old Friends: Live on Stage CD and DVD from the tour, he was able to use some of the material.[13] He played on Paul Simon's 2006 release, Surprise.

Other appearances

Palladino has toured in the backing band for Joe Walsh. In 2004, he appeared to be playing with Gary Moore at the Wembley Arena. He also contributed to the recording process of Nine Inch Nails' 2013 release Hesitation Marks, and also began touring with the band for their Tension 2013 tour. Trent Reznor said he is "probably the best bass player in the world."[14]

Emergence of the John Mayer Trio

Left to Right: Steve Jordan, John Mayer, and Pino Palladino

Palladino met Steve Jordan in the mid-1980s while both were working as session players on many occasions, which blossomed into a friendship. Jordan credits Palladino's apparent ability to "feel" changes in music, through melodies, basslines, and an embrace of genres of nearly every kind. According to Jordan, he'd planned to meet up with John Mayer and Willie Weeks in January 2005 to perform a benefit concert on a NBC sponsored telethon Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope to raise funds and public awareness benefiting victims in the aftermath of the tsunami that struck southeast Asia. Weeks was unable to make the performance, and Jordan suggested Palladino, who had heard some of Mayer's work, and was willing to come. Beginning a set that included the Jimi Hendrix classic, "Bold as Love", the three found a chemistry together and set about their schedules to record a CD and a tour as a power trio.[13] They released the album Try!, on 22 November 2005. The eleven-track live album includes cover songs, such as Jimi Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow" and "I Got A Woman" by Ray Charles, two songs from Mayer's release Heavier Things, as well as new songs written by Mayer. In addition, Mayer, Palladino, and Jordan are credited as songwriters on three songs on the album: "Good Love Is On The Way", "Vultures", and "Try!".[2] Along with John Mayer on guitar and vocals, and Steve Jordan on drums, Palladino rounded out the outfit, touring and recording as the bass guitarist of the John Mayer Trio, and on Mayer's third album Continuum.

Influences on bass guitar

Influences for Palladino for bass guitar include The Shadows Jet Harris; Motown bassist James Jamerson; Stevie Wonder's keyboard-bass, jazz innovator Nathan Watts; British folk/rock upright bassist Danny Thompson; Norman Watt-Roy (of Ian Dury & the Blockheads); Larry Graham; Michael Henderson; Bootsy Collins; Jaco Pastorius; Paul Jackson; Anthony Jackson; Doug Rauch (of Carly Simon and Santana), and Billy Cobham.[13]


Palladino is noted for his use of the fretless bass in many 1980s chart records. While it was typical for a bass guitar in a commercial track to have a rather generic sound and stay "playing the low notes" Palladino preferred a different sound (combining fretless tone with an octave effect) and basslines that frequently added chords, lead lines and counter melodies in the higher range of the instrument as opposed to simply the aforementioned "low notes". Typical of this style was his playing on Paul Young's biggest chart hits, in particular his bass solo on Wherever I Lay My Hat. His equipment at that time included a fretless Music Man StingRay Bass 1979 and Boss Octave pedal (OC-2).

Pino Palladino signature model

The Fender Pino Palladino Signature Precision Bass is modelled after two of Palladino's Fender Precision Basses. The body featuring faded fiesta red paint over desert sand paint is based on Palladino's 1961 Precision Bass while the neck shape and round-lam rosewood fret board are based on Pino's 1963 sunburst Precision Bass. He has also been known to prefer Thomastik-Infeld flat-wound bass strings.[15] Although as instruments change depending on the desired result (the Fender Japan Jaguar has featured on many stage and recordings since about 2006), strings brands and type ( round/flat/semi) may change too.

After 2005

In spring of 2006, Palladino toured with Jeff Beck. He also played with J. J. Cale, and Eric Clapton on their 2006 album The Road to Escondido, alongside other notable musicians, including Derek Trucks, and Billy Preston. It was to be Preston's last work before he died only days afterward. Palladino joined Eric Clapton's touring band for 11 dates in the Eastern US and Canada in May 2008.

In 2008 he recorded 3 tracks for London's The Herbaliser for their album "Same As It Never Was" released on k7! in 2009

In 2009, Palladino joined with keyboardist Philippe Saisse and Simon Phillips to form an instrumental trio: Phillips Saisse Palladino, an instrumental progressive jazz/funk rock ensemble, which have toured Europe through 2009 into 2010, playing songs that spotlight the talents of each performer, in the manner of many jazz outfits. He has also worked on an album with Clapton and Robbie Robertson, and played on Amos Lee's third album, Last Days at the Lodge. He appears on Jeff Beck's 2010 album, Emotion & Commotion. As of August 2010, Palladino has been touring with Herbie Hancock.

Palladino also appears on Manu Katché's third jazz album, Third Round. Both had already played together several times, particularly on Paul Young's Other Voices, as Stephan Eicher's rhythm section in the first half of the 1990s, and on stage with Manu Katché's jazz band The Tweeters. Currently in the studio recording with Steve Gadd; Edie Brickell; Andy Fairweather Low; who have formed a group the Gaddabouts.

In January 2011, he entered the studio with D'Angelo to finish recording the long overdue follow up to Voodoo.[16]

In January 2011, Palladino played on the second album of Adele: 21, while in May in the same year he played on the last EP of Revolver, Parallel Lives.

In January and February 2012, he joined D'Angelo's live band for a short European tour, alongside drummer Chris 'Daddy' Dave and guitarist Jesse Johnson. The tour included performances at London's Brixton Academy.

In late 2012, he toured with the Who on their Quadrophenia "revival" tour and in 2013 he played on several tracks from the Nine Inch Nails album Hesitation Marks as well as being a member of the Nine Inch Nails live touring band.

Discography (selected)


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c AMG Artist ID: P 112030 (2009). "Allmusic: Pino Palladino". Allmusic discography. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 
  3. ^
  4. ^'...-a088451495
  5. ^ a b c d "Artist: Pino Palladino". Epifani Custom Sound. Epifani Custom sound. 2005–2009. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  6. ^ Palladino, Pino (2006). "Pino Palladino's BASSment". Official Website for Pino Palladino. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  7. ^ a b (2006). "Pino Plucks". New Bay Media, LLC. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Sturges, Fiona (30 December 1999). "Arts: Why the sun is rising in the west". The Independent (London). Retrieved 19 June 2009. 
  10. ^ Babcock, Jay (10 May 2000). "Richard Ashcroft Interview"Feature: . Excellent Online. Retrieved 19 June 2009. 
  11. ^ "It's An Ashcroft Family Affair". Retrieved 19 June 2009. 
  12. ^ Jisi, Chris (18 May 2008). "Ashdown Artist Profile: Pino Palladino". From Bass Player Magazine. The Pocket. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d Jisi, Chris (2006). "The Master Stylist". Bass Player Magazine Online Edition. New Bay Media, LLC. Retrieved 27 December 2008. 
  14. ^ Trent Reznor in Conversation With...; Hesitation Marks Deluxe Edition; 2013
  15. ^ "1963 sunburst Precision Bass". Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  16. ^ "Russell Elevado homepage". Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "North of a Miracle - Nick Heyward". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-06-29. 

External links

  • Listen to a Sample Discography
  • "Roy Hargrove Presents the RH
  • 5 Essential Pino Palladino Tracks
  • Discussion of Palladino's roots and bass transcription
  • Pino Palladino at AllMusic
  • Pino Palladino at the Internet Movie Database
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