5. George Harrison - The Beatles
Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Even though people referred to him as the quiet Beatle, his guitar playing was most certainly not. From his slide guitar work to his soft and soothing vocals, George had always been quite underrated during his years as a Beatle.
I don’t think George cared at all that Paul and John took up most of the spotlight, but I find no problem with pointing out his irreplaceable contributions to the greatest band in the history of music. It was a beautiful thing to see his solo LP All Things Must Pass go on to become the best-selling album by a solo Beatle. George totally deserved it.
4. John Entwistle – The Who
Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Holy flurking schnit was this guy good.
The song where I really started to notice John was during the live version of “Young Man Blues” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Keith is pretty much running the show as usual, but I couldn’t help but be blown away by Entwistle’s effortless technique and fluttering fingers. His leather skeleton suit ruled pretty hard as well.
I can see why people would take him for granted due to his clam, cool, and collected manner. But it is a beautiful thing to see a musician that could get the job done without having to call attention to himself through over-the-top flamboyant antics.
3. Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel – The Band
Source: Jan Persson/Getty Images
There have been a lot of things said about how the movie The Last Waltz made it look like Robbie Robertson was the leader of The Band because he was pretty much the star and main narrator of the film. If anyone was the head of The Band it was Levon Helm. Helm was touring with Ronnie Hawkins before any of them joined the group, so I guess it would be safe to say that he started the f***ing Band. End of discussion.
On the other hand, when it came to this list, I was very torn on who was the most overlooked musician in the group. Even though I still feel that they were both very underappreciated, Rick Danko and Levon did sing lead on almost every single Band tune. This really only left Garth and Richard, who were always hidden in the back working their brilliant wizardry. Richard did do lead vocals on songs like "I Shall be Released," but he still seemed to be hard to notice.
Garth, who was classically trained in piano, music theory, harmony and counterpoint, originally joined The Hawks as a "music consultant" and his bandmates each paid him $10 a week for music lessons. Richard also played the piano, keyboards, drums, lap slide guitar, harmonica, clavinet, marimba, and conga. Talk about the backbone of a band. These men are two of the most multi-talented musicians in the history of popular music.
When Garth breaks out the saxophone at the end of “It Makes No Difference,” I get choked up every time.
2. Geezer Butler – Black Sabbath
Source: Jo Hale/Getty Images
Not only did Geezer write almost all of the lyrics for Black Sabbath, it was his demented dreams that inspired the band to take a more satanic route with their image and musical content. The other reason why he is so high on the list is the fact that he can f***ing rip on bass.
When it came to fame, most of the attention went to Ozzy and Tony. I love Mr. Iommi to death and will never deny his groundbreaking Birmingham sound, but Geezer just didn’t get enough credit for his immense talent and creative contributions to the band. Have you ever watched how fast this man’s fingers are moving while playing a bass guitar? It makes me never want to pick up an instrument ever again.
1. John Paul Jones – Led Zeppelin
Source: Dick Barnatt/Getty Images
There are indeed a lot of bass players on this list and for good reason. Throughout rock ‘n’ roll history, guitarists, vocalists, and even drummers have had the luxury to be more experimental with their instruments while bass players were forced to sit back and hold s**t down. They don’t call them "base" players for nothin’.
This can been seen most vividly in the roots of Led Zeppelin. Like John Entwistle, Jones had to hold his own with one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. John is also on of music’s most versatile musicians. Besides the bass, he also can get down on the guitar, lap steel, mandolin, ukulele, autoharp, sitar, and the freakin’ cello. Many also feel that the experience Jones had doing session work earlier in his career contributed greatly to the band’s studio achievements. Jones’s professionalism did not add to the rock star myth of Led Zeppelin, but did make them one of the best live and studio rock bands on the planet.
Which rock musicians do you think are the most criminally underrated?