John Entwistle Biography

Bassist(1944–2002)
Nicknamed "The Ox," bass guitarist John Entwistle was a founding member of the legendary rock band the Who.

Synopsis

John Entwistle was born on October 9, 1944, in Chiswick, England. In 1961, he joined the Detours, a group that included Roger Daltrey. Later, Townshend and drummer Keith Moon came aboard and the group changed its name to the Who in the mid-1960s. The band quickly found chart success in their native England and in the United States. The Who became one of the leading forces of the British Invasion.

The Who Forms

Nicknamed "The Ox," John Entwistle was the bass guitarist and a founding member of the legendary rock band the Who. Growing up in London, Entwistle showed a talent for several instruments, including the piano, trumpet and bass guitar. He met musician and future Who bandmate Pete Townshend in high school, and the two played together in different bands.

In 1961, Entwistle joined the Detours, a group that also included Roger Daltrey. Later Townshend and drummer Keith Moon came aboard and the group changed its name to the Who in the mid-1960s. The band quickly found chart success in their native England and in the United States with songs like “My Generation.” Along with such groups as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, the Who became one of the leading forces of the British Invasion in the '60s.

Commercial Success

With a brash, energetic quality all of its own, the Who became hugely popular as a live act. They played some of the leading festivals of the time, including the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock two years later. While the other members of the group were known for stage antics, Entwistle focused on demonstrating his guitar prowess during performances. Behind the scenes, he was also a talented songwriter, creating some of the band’s songs, including “Boris the Spider,” “Whiskey Man,” “Cousin Kevin” and “My Wife.”

While the Who scored with their hit rock opera Tommy (1969), Entwistle also worked on several solo albums, including Smash Your Head Against the Wall (1971) and Whistle Rymes (1972). Neither of these two albums nor his third solo effort, Rigor Mortis Sets In (1973), were able to help him step out of the shadow of the Who, however.

Loss of Keith Moon

In 1978, the band suffered a great loss: Drummer Keith Moon died of a drug overdose on September 7, 1978. Four years later, in 1982, the Who held a farewell tour, but reunited in 1989 for another tour. The following year, the rock super group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In the 1990s, John Entwistle scored a minor hit with his solo effort Too Late the Hero (1996). He also formed his own group for a time, producing albums like Music from Van-Pires (1997).

Sudden Death

In 2002, John Entwistle, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were poised to launch another tour as the Who. Those plans were stopped short, however, when yet another tragedy struck the group: On June 27, 2002—just before their tour was slated to begin—John Entwistle died from a heart attack in Las Vegas, Nevada. Some of the group’s dates were canceled, but Daltrey and Townshend played out the remainder of the tour, performing in honor of their friend.

Married twice, John Entwistle had a son Christopher with first wife Alison Wise. In his memory, the John Entwistle Foundation was established to develop music education programs.

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