On this date in 2002 The Who bassist John Entwistle died in a hotel room in Las Vegas one day before the band was scheduled to begin an extensive North American Tour. The man nicknamed “The Ox” had a melodic, treble-heavy style that has often been replicated but never duplicated. Entwistle’s signature tone and frenzied bass lines helped give The Who’s music its full and distinctive sound.
John Entwistle was born in London on October 9, 1944 and was a founding member of The Who. The Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman adeptly described Entwistle as “the quietest man in private and the loudest man on stage.” Entwistle’s contributions to The Who’s catalog went beyond bass as he added french horn to “Pictures Of Lily,” horns on “5:15” and lead vocals on such songs as “Boris The Spider,” “My Wife” and “We Close Tonight.” He was also a talented writer who composed over 25 gems for the group including “Had Enough,” “I’ve Been Away,” “Postcard” and “One At A Time,” among other Who songs.
The Ox’s finger-picking of rapid-fire melodies saw him use the bass in a percussive style. He never seemed to break a sweat despite moving his hands and fingers all over the fretboard with a mix of slides and propulsive riffs. Entwistle’s unique sound can be heard in series of isolated bass tracks below: