John Entwistle

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John Alec Entwistle (October 9, 1944June 27, 2002) was the bass guitar player for The Who.

John Alec Entwistle was born in Chiswick, a London suburb, in 1944. He joined Roger Daltrey in a pre-Who band, The Detours, in the early 1960s.

Sometimes known as "Ox", he was generally regarded as the quiet person in The Who. Bill Wyman described him as "the quietest man in private but the loudest man on stage."

John Entwistle was a talented songwriter and artist. He wrote several well-known Who songs including:

  • Cousin Kevin
  • My Wife
  • Boris The Spider
  • Heaven and Hell

Entwistle also contributed many backing vocals and horn performances to the group.

In addition to his work with the Who, Entwistle was an accomplished solo artist, releasing a number of solo albums beginning in the 1970s.

Entwistle's contribution to rock bass playing was to create a driving lead role for the instrument. Rarely captured well in the studio, his style and sound was fully developed by the time of the Who's performance of "A Quick One While He's Away" for the Rolling Stones' 1968 Rock and Roll Circus, as well as the seminal 1970 Live at Leeds concert recording. In concert, Entwistle and guitarist Pete Townshend frequently exchanged roles, with Entwistle providing rapid melodic lines and Townsend anchoring the song with rhythmic chord work. Entwistle also pioneered the use of roundwound steel bass strings, developed for him by the Rotosound company. Indeed, Pete Townshend was often quoted that it was Entwistle who was the lead guitarist in the band, while he, being the rhythmic timekeeping element, was in effect the drummer. Moon, on the other hand, with all his flourishes round the kit, was considered by Townshend to be the equivalent of a keyboard player!

Entwistle helped develop the percussive potential of the bass sound, creating an unusual right-hand "typewriter" technique several years before slapping was introduced by funk pioneer Larry Graham. This percussive sound is evident in the bass solo from The Who's 1965 single "My Generation", available on the My Generation album. It is often credited as the first electric bass solo on record.

Entwistle identified his influences as a combination of twangy rock & roll guitarists such as Duane Eddy and Gene Vincent, American soul and R&B bassists such as James Jamerson, and his school training on French horn, trumpet, and piano.

In turn, Entwistle has been a massive stylistic influence on a generation of bass players that follow him and continues to top 'best ever bass player' polls in musicians magazines.


John Entwistle died in 2002 in Las Vegas on the eve of the first show in a US tour by The Who. Italian-born bassist Pino Palladino replaced him on stage.

The Las Vegas medical examiner determined that death was due to a heart attack induced by an undetermined amount of cocaine. Though the amount in his bloodstream may not have been great, the drug caused his coronary arteries — already damaged by a pre-existing heart condition — to contract, which led to the fatal heart attack.

Entwistle's enormous collection of hundreds of guitars and basses was auctioned at Sothebys in London by his son Christopher, to meet anticipated death duties on his father's estate. Of the auction, Christopher was quoted as saying his father would have hated it. New Order/Joy Division bassist Peter Hook is amongst those who acquired some of Entwistle's basses at the auction.

Entwistle's enormous mansion in Stow-On-The-Wold in the Cotswolds and a large number of his very personal effects were also later sold off to meet the demands of the Tax Inspectors at the Inland Revenue. Ironically, Entwistle was a former employee of that department, only quitting his job there when The Who began to become successful.

Solo discography

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