John Entwistle
John Entwistle

John ‍Alec ‍Entwistle (9 October 1944 – 27 June 2002) was an English musician, songwriter and bassist ‍for the rock band The Who. Nicknamed “The Ox” and “Thunderfingers“,[1] Entwistle’s music profession spanned over 4 a long time. He was the band’s solely member with formal musical coaching and in addition supplied backing and occasional lead vocals. Entwistle was inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame as a member of the Who in 1990.

Famend for his musical talents, Entwistle’s instrumental method used pentatonic lead strains and a then-unusual treble-rich sound (“full treble, full quantity”). He was voted as the best bassist ‍of all time in a 2011 Rolling Stone journal readers’ ballot[2] and in its particular “100 Biggest Bass Gamers” challenge in 2017, Bass Participant journal named Entwistle at quantity seven.


John Alec Entwistle was born on 9 October 1944 in Chiswick, England, which is now a part of London.[3] He was an solely baby. His father, Herbert, who died in 2003, performed the trumpet[4] and his mom, Maud (née Lee) (29 November 1922 – 4 March 2011),[5] performed the piano.[6] His dad and mom’ marriage failed quickly after he was born, and he was largely raised by his mom at his grandparents’ home in South Acton.[7] Divorce was unusual within the Nineteen Forties, and this contributed to Entwistle turning into reserved and socialising little.[6]

His musical profession started aged 7, when he began taking piano classes. He didn’t benefit from the expertise and after becoming a member of Acton County Grammar Faculty aged 11, switched to the trumpet,[6] shifting to the French horn when he joined the Middlesex Faculties Symphony Orchestra.[7] He met Pete Townshend within the second 12 months of faculty, and the 2 shaped a trad jazz band, the Confederates. The group solely performed one gig collectively, earlier than they determined that rock and roll was a extra enticing prospect.[4] Entwistle, particularly, was having issue listening to his trumpet with rock bands, and determined to change to taking part in guitar, however because of his giant fingers, and in addition his fondness for the low guitar tones of Duane Eddy, he determined to take up the bass guitar as a substitute.[8] He made his personal instrument at house,[9] and shortly attracted the eye of Roger Daltrey, who had been the 12 months above Entwistle at Acton County, however had since left to work in sheet metallic. Daltrey was conscious of Entwistle from college, and requested him to hitch as a bass guitarist for his band, the Detours.[10]


The Who

After becoming a member of the Detours, Entwistle performed a significant position in encouraging Pete Townshend’s budding expertise on the guitar, and insisting that Townshend be admitted into the band as properly. Finally, Roger Daltrey fired all of the members of his band aside from Entwistle, Townshend and the drummer Doug Sandom, a semi-pro participant who was a number of years older than the others. Daltrey relinquished the position of guitarist to Townshend in 1963, as a substitute turning into frontman and lead singer.[citation needed] The band thought-about a number of adjustments of title, lastly selecting the title the Who whereas Entwistle was nonetheless working as a tax clerk (quickly performing because the Excessive Numbers for 4 months in 1964).[11] When the band determined that the blond Daltrey wanted to face out extra from the others, Entwistle dyed his naturally gentle brown hair black, and it remained so till the early Nineteen Eighties.[12]

Round 1963, Entwistle performed in a London band referred to as the Initials for a short time; the band broke up when a deliberate resident engagement in Spain fell by.

In 1967, Entwistle married his childhood sweetheart Alison Clever[13] and purchased a big semi-detached house in Stanmore, London, filling it with all kinds of extraordinary artifacts, starting from fits of armour to a tarantula spider. His eccentricity and style for the weird was to stay with him all through his life, and when he lastly moved out of the town in 1978, to Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire, his 17-bedroom mansion, Quarwood, resembled a museum. It additionally housed one of many largest guitar collections belonging to any rock musician.[1]

Entwistle picked up two nicknames throughout his profession as a musician. He was nicknamed “The Ox” due to his robust structure[14] and seeming skill to “eat, drink or do greater than the remainder of them”. He was additionally later nicknamed “Thunderfingers”. Invoice Wyman, bass guitarist for The Rolling Stones, described him as “the quietest man in personal however the loudest man on stage”. Entwistle was one of many first to utilize Marshall stacks in an try to listen to himself over the noise of his band members, who famously leapt and moved about on the stage, with Townshend and Keith Moon smashing their devices on quite a few events (Moon even used explosives in his drum package throughout one tv efficiency on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour). Townshend later remarked that Entwistle began utilizing Marshall amplification to listen to himself over Moon’s rapid-fire drumming model, and Townshend himself additionally had to make use of them simply to be heard over Entwistle. They each continued increasing and experimenting with their rigs, till they had been each utilizing twin stacks with new experimental prototype 200 watt amps, at a time when most bands used 50–100 watt amplifiers with single cupboards. All of this shortly gained the Who a status for being “the loudest band on the planet”; they reached 126 decibels at a 1976 live performance in London, listed within the Guinness E book of World Information because the loudest rock live performance in historical past. The band had a powerful affect on the time on their contemporaries’ alternative of apparatus, with Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Expertise each following swimsuit. Though they pioneered and immediately contributed to the event of the “traditional” Marshall sound (at this level their gear was being constructed or tweaked to their private specs), they solely used Marshall gear for a number of years. Entwistle ultimately switched to utilizing a Sound Metropolis rig, with Townshend following swimsuit later as properly. Townshend factors out that Jimi Hendrix, their new label mate, was influenced past simply the band’s quantity. Each Entwistle and Townshend had begun experimenting with suggestions from the amplifiers within the mid-Sixties, and Hendrix didn’t start destroying his devices till after he had witnessed the Who’s “auto-destructive artwork”.

Entwistle backstage earlier than a gig at Friedrich-Ebert-Halle in Ludwigshafen, Germany on 12 April 1967

Entwistle’s wry and typically darkish sense of humour clashed at instances with Townshend’s extra introspective, mental work. Though he wrote songs on each Who album aside from Quadrophenia, he was annoyed at Townshend not permitting him to sing them himself. As he mentioned, “I bought a pair [of songs] on per album however my drawback was that I wished to sing the songs and never let Roger sing them.”[15] This was a big a part of the explanation[citation needed] that he turned the primary member of the band to launch a solo album, Smash Your Head In opposition to the Wall (1971) which featured contributions from Keith Moon, Jerry Shirley, Vivian Stanshall, Neil Innes and the Who’s roadie, Dave “Cyrano” Langston.

He was the one member of the band to have had formal musical coaching.[16] Along with the bass guitar, he contributed backing vocals and carried out on the French horn (heard on “Photos of Lily”), trumpet, piano, bugle, and Jew’s harp, and on some events he sang the lead vocals on his compositions. He layered a number of horns to create the brass part as heard on songs corresponding to “5:15”, amongst others, whereas recording the Who’s studio albums, and for live shows, organized a horn part to carry out with the band.

Entwistle taking part in at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto 1976

Whereas Entwistle was recognized for being the quietest member of the Who, he in reality typically exerted main influences on the remainder of the band. For example, Entwistle was the primary member of the band to put on a Union Jack waistcoat. This piece of clothes later turned considered one of Townshend’s signature clothes.[17]

In 1974, he compiled Odds & Sods, a group of unreleased Who materials.[18] Entwistle designed the duvet artwork for the band’s 1975 album, The Who by Numbers, and in a 1996 interview remarked that it had value £30 to create, whereas the Quadrophenia cowl, designed by Pete Townshend, had value £16,000.[19]

Entwistle additionally experimented all through his profession with “Bi-amping”, the place the excessive and low ends of the bass are despatched by separate sign paths, permitting for extra management over the output. At one level his rig turned so loaded down with speaker cupboards and processing gear, that it was dubbed “Little Manhattan”, in reference to the towering, skyscraper-like stacks, racks and blinking lights.


Whereas Townshend emerged because the Who’s songwriter-in-chief, Entwistle started making distinctive contributions to the band’s catalogue, starting with “Whiskey Man” and “Boris the Spider” on the A Fast One album in 1966, persevering with with “Physician, Physician” and “Somebody’s Coming” (1967); “Silas Stingy”, “Heinz Baked Beans” and “Medac” from The Who Promote Out (1967); “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” (1968); and “Heaven and Hell”, with which the Who opened their dwell reveals between 1968 and 1970.[20] Entwistle wrote “Cousin Kevin” and “Fiddle About” for the Who’s 1969 album Tommy as a result of Townshend had particularly requested Entwistle to jot down ‘nasty songs’ that he felt uncomfortable with. “My Spouse”, Entwistle’s driving, comedic tune about marital strife from 1971’s Who’s Subsequent, additionally turned a well-liked stage quantity. He wrote “Success Story” for The Who by Numbers (1975), for which he additionally drew the illustration on the album cowl; “Had Sufficient”, “905”, and “Trick of the Gentle” for Who Are You (1978); “The Quiet One” and “You” for Face Dances (1981); and “It is Your Flip”, “Harmful” and “One at a Time” for It is Arduous (1982), his ultimate album with the Who.[1]

Different work

Solo profession

In 1971, Entwistle turned the primary member to launch a solo album, Smash Your Head In opposition to the Wall, which earned him a cult following within the US for followers of his model of black humour.[citation needed] Different solo studio albums included: Whistle Rymes (1972), Rigor Mortis Units In (1973), Mad Canine (1975), Too Late the Hero (1981), and The Rock (1996). The band was preoccupied with recording The Who by Numbers through the spring of 1975 and didn’t do any touring for a lot of the 12 months, so Entwistle spent the summer time performing solo live shows. He additionally fronted the John Entwistle Band on US membership excursions through the Nineteen Nineties, and appeared with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band in 1995. A gifted artist, Entwistle held common exhibitions of his work, with a lot of them that includes the Who.[1] In 1984 he turned the primary artist apart from Arlen Roth to report an tutorial video for Roth’s firm Sizzling Licks Video.[citation needed]

Later years

In 1990, Entwistle toured with the Greatest, a short-lived supergroup which included Keith Emerson, Joe Walsh, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, and Simon Phillips. In the direction of the top of his profession, he shaped the John Entwistle Mission with longtime buddy, drummer Steve Luongo, and guitarist Mark Hitt, each previously of Rat Race Choir. This advanced into the John Entwistle Band, with Godfrey Townsend changing Mark Hitt on guitar and becoming a member of concord vocals. In 1996, the band went on the “Left for Lifeless” tour with Alan St. Jon becoming a member of on keyboards. After Entwistle toured with the Who for Quadrophenia in 1996–97, the John Entwistle Band set off on the “Left for Lifeless – the Sequel” tour in late 1998, now with Gordon Cotten on keyboards. After this second enterprise, the band launched an album of highlights from the tour, titled Left for Reside and a studio album Music from Van-Pires in 2000. The album featured misplaced demos of Who drummer Keith Moon along with newly recorded elements by the band.[21] In 1995, Entwistle additionally toured and recorded with Ringo Starr in one of many incarnations of Starr’s All-Starr Band. This one additionally featured Billy Preston, Randy Bachman, and Mark Farner. On this ensemble, he performed and sang “Boris the Spider” as his Who showpiece, together with “My Spouse”. Towards the top of his profession he used a Standing Graphite Buzzard Bass, which he had designed. From 1999 to early 2002, he performed as a part of the Who. Entwistle additionally performed at Woodstock ’99, together with Mickey Hart, being the one performers there to have taken the stage on the authentic Woodstock. As a aspect venture, he performed the bass guitar in a rustic rock album venture of authentic songs referred to as the Pioneers, with Mickey Wynne on lead guitar, Ron Magness on rhythm guitar and keyboards, Roy Michaels, Andre Beeka on vocals, and John Delgado taking part in drums. The album was launched on Voiceprint. Shortly earlier than his demise, Entwistle had agreed to play some US dates with the band together with Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, following his ultimate upcoming tour with the Who.

In 2001, he performed in Alan Parsons’ Beatles tribute present A Stroll Down Abbey Highway. The present additionally featured Ann Wilson of Coronary heart, Todd Rundgren, David Pack of Ambrosia, Godfrey Townsend, Steve Luongo, and John Beck. That 12 months he additionally performed with the Who on the Live performance for New York Metropolis. He additionally joined forces once more with the John Entwistle Band for an 8-gig tour. This time Chris Clark performed keyboards. From January–February 2002, Entwistle performed his final live shows with the Who in a handful of dates in England, the final being on 8 February at London’s Royal Albert Corridor. In late 2002, an expanded 2-CD Left for Reside Deluxe was launched, highlighting the John Entwistle Band’s performances.


Between 1996 and 2002, Entwistle attended dozens of artwork openings in his honour. He chatted with every collector, personalising their artwork with a quote and a sketch of “Boris”. In early 2002, Entwistle completed what was his final drawing. “Eyes Large Shut” represented a brand new model for Entwistle. That includes Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Web page and Eric Clapton, Entwistle’s model had advanced from easy line drawings and caricatures to a extra lifelike illustration of his topics. He was extra assured and relaxed together with his artwork and able to share that together with his collectors.[1]

Entwistle wrote this on considered one of his photos:

Now … ! I am nonetheless the Bass Guitarist. When you’re studying this Bio at a present – do not forget to wave – I am the one on the left. When you’re studying this at an Artwork Present – Assist help a ravenous Artist BUY SOMETHING![1]

Dying and legacy

Entwistle died in Room 658 on the Arduous Rock Resort and On line casino in Paradise, Nevada, on 27 June 2002, at some point earlier than the scheduled first present of the Who’s 2002 United States tour. He was 57 years previous. Entwistle had gone to mattress that evening with Alycen Rowse, a neighborhood stripper and groupie, who awoke the subsequent morning to search out Entwistle chilly and unresponsive.[22][23] The Clark County medical expert decided that his demise was because of a coronary heart assault induced by an undetermined quantity of cocaine. Entwistle already had extreme coronary heart illness and normally smoked 20 cigarettes a day.[24]

Entwistle had undergone a medical examination for insurance coverage functions earlier than the Who’s 2002 tour began. The examination revealed hypertension and excessive levels of cholesterol. Entwistle’s authorised biographer Paul Rees has advised {that a} extra detailed bodily examination would have revealed that three of his arteries had been blocked and necessitated surgical procedure.[25]

His funeral was held at St Edward’s Church in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, England, on 10 July 2002.[16] His physique was cremated and his ashes had been buried privately on the grounds of his mansion, Quarwood. A memorial service was held on 24 October at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Sq., London. Entwistle’s enormous assortment of guitars and basses was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London by his son, Christopher, to fulfill anticipated taxes on his father’s property.

Show of Entwistle’s bass guitar together with a shirt previously owned by bandmate Keith Moon on the Arduous Rock Cafe, London

On Pete Townshend’s web site, Townshend and Roger Daltrey printed a tribute, saying, “The Ox has left the constructing — we have misplaced one other nice buddy. Thanks to your help and love. Pete and Roger.”[11]

Entwistle’s mansion, Quarwood, and a few of his private results had been later bought off to fulfill the calls for of the Inland Income; he had labored for the company from 1962–1963 as a tax officer earlier than being demoted to submitting clerk, previous to becoming a member of the Who.

One facet of Entwistle’s life emerged after his demise that got here as a shock even to these closest to him, together with the members of the Who. “It wasn’t till the day of his funeral that I found that he’d spent most of his life as a Freemason”, mentioned Pete Townshend.[26]

Welsh-born bass guitarist Pino Palladino, who had beforehand performed on a number of of Townshend’s solo albums, took over for Entwistle onstage when the Who resumed their postponed US tour on 1 July 2002.[27] Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey spoke at size about their response to Entwistle’s demise. A few of their feedback might be discovered on The Who Reside in Boston DVD.

On the opening evening of their Vapor Trails tour, which started in Hartford, Connecticut on 28 June 2002 (the evening after Entwistle’s demise), Geddy Lee of Rush devoted the band’s efficiency of the tune “Between Solar and Moon” to Entwistle.[28]

Oasis performed a model of “My Era” throughout their set at T within the Park on Saturday 13 July 2002 as a tribute to Entwistle.[29]

In a Pink Sizzling Chili Peppers gig at Slane Fortress in 2003, Flea bought on stage carrying a model of the skeleton swimsuit Entwistle wore throughout The Who 1970 tour as a tribute to the bass participant.[30]


Entwistle on the Manchester Apollo with the Who in a 1981 efficiency

Entwistle’s taking part in approach included fingerstyle, plectrum,[31] tapping, and using harmonics.[32] He modified his model between songs and even throughout songs to change the sound he produced. His fingering approach concerned plucking strings very forcefully to supply a trebly, twangy sound. He modified his thumb place from pick-up to the E string and infrequently even positioned his thumb close to the pick-up. His plectrum approach concerned holding the plectrum between his thumb and forefinger, with the remainder of his fingers outstretched for stability.

The Who’s studio recordings seldom did justice to Entwistle’s taking part in, partially as a result of he was higher heard in live performance,[33] the place he and Pete Townshend steadily exchanged roles, with Entwistle offering speedy melodic strains and Townshend anchoring the tune with rhythmic chord work. On the similar time, Townshend famous that Entwistle supplied the true rhythmic timekeeping within the band, whereas Keith Moon, together with his thrives across the package, was extra like a keyboard participant. In 1989, Entwistle identified that, by trendy requirements, “the Who have not bought a correct bass participant.”[34]

Entwistle additionally developed what he referred to as a “typewriter” method to taking part in the bass.[35] It concerned positioning his proper hand over the strings so all 4 fingers might be used to faucet percussively on the strings, inflicting them to strike the fretboard with a particular twangy sound. This gave him the flexibility to play three or 4 strings directly, or to make use of a number of fingers on a single string. It allowed him to create passages that had been each percussive and melodic. This technique shouldn’t be confused with tapping or slapping, and in reality predates these strategies. Fashionable gamers corresponding to Ryan Martinie of heavy metallic band Mudvayne have used comparable strategies. Entwistle might be seen utilizing this system in Mike Gordon’s 2002 movie, Rising Low. Notable in his left-hand approach was his use of slides, positioning his left hand for octaves, and his use of the pentatonic when taking part in with the Who.

Entwistle was infamous for the extraordinarily excessive quantity at which he performed bass, going as far as to rig pick-ups to every string on his devices. This led to him creating listening to loss,[36] much like Townshend. Though not as public about his issues as Townshend, he seemingly needed to depend on lip studying to know speech in his later years. Randy Bachman of Bachman–Turner Overdrive claimed that in direction of the top of his life, Entwistle largely performed by feeling the frenzy of air from his large amp stacks.[37] Entwistle blamed his listening to loss on utilizing headphones.[38]


Entwistle recognized his influences as a mixture of his college coaching on French horn, trumpet, and piano (giving his fingers energy and dexterity). Musicians who influenced him included rock and roll guitarists Duane Eddy[39] and Gene Vincent, and American soul and R&B bass guitarists corresponding to James Jamerson.[40] In flip, Entwistle has been a substantial affect on the taking part in types and sounds utilized by generations of bass guitarists which have adopted him, together with Tom Hamilton,[41] Geezer Butler,[42] Steve Harris, Matt Freeman, Krist Novoselic,[43] Cliff Burton, Ian Hill, Geddy Lee,[44] Billy Sheehan,[45] Victor Wooten,[46] Tom Petersson,[47] Sam Rivers, John Myung,[48] and Chris Squire.[49]

Entwistle continues to prime ‘greatest ever bass participant’ polls in musicians magazines. In 2000, Guitar journal named him “Bassist of the Millennium” in a readers’ ballot.[50] J. D. Considine ranked Entwistle No. 9 on his listing of “High 50 Bass Gamers”.[51] He was named the second greatest rock bassist on Creem Journal’s 1974 Reader Ballot Outcomes.[52] In 2011, a Rolling Stone Journal reader ballot chosen him because the No. 1 rock bass guitarist of all time.[2]


Entwistle collaborated with bass guitar producers corresponding to Alembic, Warwick, and Standing Graphite[53][54] His famous bass solo on the “My Era” single was a Fender Jazz Bass[55] with inventory flatwound strings.[56]

Entwistle’s assortment of guitars and basses was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Could 2003.[57]


Studio albums

  • Smash Your Head In opposition to the Wall (1971)
  • Whistle Rymes (1972)
  • Rigor Mortis Units In (1973)
  • Mad Canine (1975)
  • Too Late the Hero (1981)
  • The Rock (1996)
  • Music from Van-Pires (2000)

  • Neill, Andy; Kent, Matthew (2009). Anyway Anyhow Anyplace – The Full Chronicle of The Who. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-1217-3.
  • Marsh, Dave (1983). Earlier than I Get Outdated – The Story of The Who. Plexus Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85965-085-4.

  • The Who Live performance Information: John Entwistle Tour Archive
  • The John Entwistle Basis
  • John Entwistle’s gear reference
  • John Entwistle at AllMusic
  • John Entwistle discography at Discogs Edit this at Wikidata
  • John Entwistle at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  • John Entwistle on the Web Broadway Database Edit this at Wikidata

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