John Entwistle

“Generations” by John Entwistle


John Entwistle

 1944 – 2002

John Entwistle

(This Biography was revised and finished by John on June 24th, 2002, three days before he died.)

John Entwistle was born a long time ago. He spent his early childhood dodging dinosaurs and searching for a cave with just the right amount of echo.

Forced by his mother to play the piano at the age of six, he learned to read music almost before he could read words. He is still confused between the two. By the age of eleven, he decided to follow the footsteps of Bix Beiderbeck to play the horn and die young. Unfortunately, the school orchestra, already overloaded with suicidal trumpet players, gave him a French horn instead. So John was doomed to play the French horn and die a slow death.

Soon jazz was dead, and the new motto was “Long Live Rock.”

John chose to play a louder instrument. He chose the bass because it was longer than the guitar—a much larger phallic symbol. [Editorial note: it is a widely unknown fact that John both played and arranged all brass on The Who’s recorded material. It was cheaper that way!]

After meeting Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey at school, they formed the embryo of The Who, which at the time they named The Detours. After a few “detours,” they found a new drummer in Keith Moon and a new manager who promised them that they would soon appear at Carnegie Hall. They never did—but they often ordered sandwiches from the Carnegie Delicatessen next door.
After a string of Top Ten singles in England, they decided to conquer America. This meant either defecting to Russia or touring the US. They chose the latter. After seven long profitless American tours, they were $500,000 in debt with a truckload of trashed equipment.

Then along came Tommy, a rock opera with a plot the world is still trying to work out. Live at Leeds followed, and fans are still trying to find out which part of Leeds The Who lived in.

Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, and a whole string of compilation albums were massive successes. Films of their concept albums were made—Tommy, directed by Ken Russell, Quadrophenia, directed by Franc Roddam, and The Kids Are Alright, directed by a guide dog.

The Who spent less and less time on the road, which led John to believe that he had joined the most famous semi-professional band in the business. John liked to sum up The Who in one sentence—The Who are to the rock industry the equivalent of what French films are to the movie industry, deep and full of messages; but what the fuck are they about?”

After a string of moderately successful solo albums by John and other band members, the tragic death of Keith Moon changed the destiny of The Who forever. Following a series of live tours and two albums with Keith’s replacement Kenny Jones, The Who floundered, twitched a few times, and finally croaked.

John spent the next few years trying to put a new band together to enable him to return to his true love—the road. In 1989 the dusty lid of The Who’s coffin creaked open to produce the hugely successful “back from the dead goodbye again tour.”

In 1994, John toured as a special guest with Roger Daltrey. In ’95, John toured Japan and America with Ringo Starr’s All Star Band, which gave him the dubious pleasure of knowing that he has now performed “Yellow Submarine” more times than Paul McCartney.

After his experiences on the road with Roger and Ringo, he decided to be his own boss, knowing that at least he wouldn’t tell himself to “TURN DOWN.” He toured America with his own John Entwistle Band in ’96, calling it the Left for Dead tour. It made a whole bunch of new fans and friends, if not money. Then again, John would play at the opening of an envelope if he had the chance.

The tour, amongst other things, triggered a resurgence of John’s solo career, starting with a remixed selection from his solo albums titled appropriately John Entwistle – Anthology on the Repertoire label in Europe. A similar selection using the original mixes was released in America titled Thunderfingers on the Rhino label. Shortly after, Repertoire released all five solo albums in their original form, and Sundazed Records released some of the albums in the US.

After the Left for Dead tour, the John Entwistle Band flew over to John’s studio to start work on the successful American television series Van-Pires one of the top programs in its time slot. They collaborated on 13 new songs, one for each show and the main title theme. The songs from the show were released on CD called appropriately, Songs From Van-Pires.

John’s other career as an artist was also taking off, starting with releasing a limited edition serigraph of his Who by Numbers cover, closely followed by updated color editions of The Who—namely Spirit of 76 and Generations. Originals of his other cartoons of famous rock stars went on sale to the art-loving public, and he still had plenty of victims to draw yet!

The coffin lid creaked open again to reveal the Quadrophenia tour starring Townshend, Entwistle, and Daltrey with a cast of thousands—or at least that’s what most people called it!

The live recordings of the second Left for Dead tour were released under the title Left for Live, and the band played at the second Woodstock festival strangely enough in the emerging band aircraft hanger. Most of the audience was asleep before they went on stage—not for long! The band also toured as themselves and on the Abbey road tour with, among others, Todd Rundgren and Anne Wilson in both the US and Japan.

Inspired by a charity concert at London’s Albert Hall for the Children’s Cancer Trust, as a scaled-down five-piece Who, they embarked on a short tour of the USA and decided to stay that way.

At some point in this hubbub of activity, John was voted Bass Player of the Millennium and also attended the Grammys to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

On September 12th, 2001, John phoned JEB drummer Steve Luongo to arrange the Charity show at BB King’s Club in New York. Expenses were to be covered by five other surrounding JEB concerts. Suddenly the Madison Square Garden 911 Charity Show was plunked slap bang in the middle of it. Somehow with a lot of juggling and a little help from the rest of The Who, John managed to fulfill all his obligations by performing six shows in five days. This involved rushing straight from MSG to BB Kings.

In 2002, The Who, still as a five-piece, performed a series of English concerts leading up to another Children’s Cancer Trust benefit at The Royal Albert Hall.

Whenever he has the spare time—otherwise, in his sleep—John scribbles down another chapter in the first of a trilogy of novels recounting his humorous adventures with The Who. At the current rate, “The End” will have to be engraved on his tombstone! At the same time, his new original and limited edition prints of Guitar Gods—Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Pete Townshend—had to be drawn to coincide with the new Who tour of America.


I’m still the bass guitarist. If you’re reading this Bio at a show—don’t forget to wave— I’m the one on the left.

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