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Mott the Dog's Obituary on....

John Entwistle
of The Who

Review: 084
Date: 15 Jul 02


John Entwistle (1944 - 2002)

Tracks Listing: n/a


The ‘Who’ have always been a group in more than just the youthanism for a rock band. If you were a follower of The Who, you become a member of the gang. You belonged. You didn’t necessarily like the band because of the way they looked or even the music, it was an attitude thing.

The fact that they were the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world, as correctly proclaimed on their Charlton Stadium gig T-Shirts from 1974, the music was fantastic. They set standards of fashion, whilst looking the absolute business was really a bit of a bonus.

When Keith Moon died in 1978 at the tender age of 31, you felt as though you’d lost one of your best mates. The cheeky mate, who you had known all your life, loved dearly, but were scared of, yet would trust with your life, but not your wife. When Keith left, it took a week to sink in that there would be no more Who concerts with the little drummer thrashing away behind his ever increasing giant kit, grabbing the microphone to sing off-key, or make sure ridiculous comments between songs (often unprintable). He left you with the rest of your life to miss him and what he stood for.

John EntwistleAnd now John (The Ox) Entwistle, the rock around which The Who’s sound was pinned down by, has been taken away, too. Let’s face it; you couldn’t rely upon old Moony or Townshend, who could crash off in any direction at any time. Someone had to know what song they were playing, and that someone was John.

On stage John Entwistle may have been the quiet one of the band, but his unique bass sound, exceptional brilliance and enthusiasm, was essential to the sound of the machine. You only have to shut your eyes and you can see the stage with Mssr’s Townshend, Daltrey and Moon thrashing away, whilst to the side would be the Ox standing still, his face turned as if looking off-stage, but with his fingers running up and down the fret board in his bass popping style. That is until he would march to the front of the stage to take a solo spot.

Pete Townshend is credited with being the main songwriter for The Who - and he is, and some brilliant songs he’s written, too. But they were often complemented by some of John’s songs. The rock opera ‘Tommy’ would not have been the same without ‘Cousin Kevin’ or ‘Fiddle about’. By the time of ‘Who Are You’ (the last album with Keith Moon) three songs out of the nine were written by John Entwistle. By way of explanation at the time, John said that writing songs for Roger Daltrey to sing instead of himself allowed him to have more songs on the album. I mean if you‘ve got a lead singer you might as well use him.

John EntwistleTo give himself an outlet for both his songs and his love of being on stage, John had an entirely separate career from The Who. He was the first of The Who to release a solo album and do a solo tour. All his releases reaching the lower regions of the charts, and showing off John’s wicked sense of humour, sense of fun, and love of good ole Rock ‘n’ Roll.

At Woodstock in 1969 and on the Isle of Wight in 1970 The Who topped the bill. On both occasions they opened up with the Entwistle song ‘Heaven & Hell’. Pete Townshend always said he loved playing that song.

My own favorite Entwistle song, ‘My Wife’, appeared on perhaps The Who’s greatest album - ‘Who’s next’. A really good Rock ‘n’ Roll song which opens up with the lyrics

  ‘My life is Jeopardy
Murdered in cold blood is what I’m gonna be
I ain’t been home since Friday night
And now my wife is coming after me’

I think we can all relate to that in one way or another.

John Entwistle was also The Who’s historical keeper. In the two year gap between Townshend’s second rock opera ‘Quadraphenia’ (73), upon which you can hear some of John Entwistle finest bass playing, and ‘The Who by Numbers,’ which John did the hysterical artwork for, John went through old tapes and found enough discarded material in The Who’s back catalogue to release a whole album of gems. It reached Number 10 in both the American and British charts. Lovingly entitled ODDS & SODS. Very apt.

John EntwistleAs for John being the quiet one of The Who, well, that may have been on stage but certainly not off it. My favorite Entwistle story is that whilst out with his great friend and drinking buddy Oliver Reed, they used to have head butting competitions. The first one to pass-out lost.

John Entwistle was a fine man and will be well remembered by all those that his life touched. He leaves behind a fine legacy of music. To hear John at his best, try listening to ‘Quadraphenia’, or ‘The Who live at the Isle of Wight’ from 1970, or his second solo album ‘Whistle Rhymes’.

John Entwistle has gone to the great gig in the sky, and perhaps the reason for his early departure is that they just couldn’t wait any longer for the Ox to join them.


Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew


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