We'll miss you, John Entwistle

John Entwistle RIP

October 9, 1944-June 27, 2002

First Appeared at The Music Box, August 2002, Volume 9, #8

Written by John Metzger

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John Entwistle, the legendary bassist and founding member of The Who, died on Thursday, June 27. An apparent victim of a heart attack, he was found in his hotel room in Las Vegas. His passing fell on the day before The Who were scheduled to begin a three-month tour. Steve Luongo, drummer in the John Entwistle Band, confirmed that the bassist had been on medication for a heart condition.

Entwistle was born in Chiswick, England on October 9, 1944. He and high school pal Pete Townshend first formed a Dixieland band — Entwistle played trumpet; Townshend played banjo — before forming The Detours with Roger Daltrey. By 1964, drummer Keith Moon had joined the band, which then became The Who. Together, the group became one of the most popular of the British Invasion bands, ranking just behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Throughout its career, The Who charted with songs like I Can’t Explain, I Can See for Miles, Magic Bus, and Entwistle’s own Boris the Spider, and the group released such groundbreaking albums as Tommy, Quadrophenia, and Who’s Next. In all, the band has sold more than 18 million albums and has had fourteen gold, ten platinum, and five multi-platinum records.

Entwistle was one of the greatest bass players in the history of rock ’n‘ roll, and he recently outranked Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, and Jack Bruce as Guitar Magazine’s Bassist of the Millennium. Entwistle’s approach was different than that of most bassists. Instead of merely providing a simple, underlying rhythmic anchor to songs, he frequently painted them with the broader brush stroke of his lively lead.

"A lot of my playing is improvising," Entwistle explained to Bass Frontiers magazine in 1996. "I will just discover different little patterns or riffs in any key at anytime. Somewhere in my brain I have a list of things I can play. It’s a matter of putting them in the right order."

Indeed, one can’t imagine The Who without John Entwistle’s classic touch. For certain, The Who will never be the same. Nor will rock ’n‘ roll. He will be sorely missed.

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Copyright © 2002 The Music Box