by Robert Wilkinson
Along with John Lennon, we wish John Entwistle of the Who, one of the greatest bass players in history, a big Happy and Merry. Today we have lots of videos!
As you know, I was/am a big Who fan. They were easily the most exciting band in history when it came to live performances. I've written a lot about it in the birthday celebrations of their guitarist, Pete Townshend, and their incredible drummer, Keith Moon. (Sorry for any busted links.) While everyone else on stage were a whirl of energy and motion, John Entwistle, known to his bandmates as "The Ox," stood rock still, the anchor "at the eye of the hurricane."
AMG states John Entwistle "was probably the most influential bassist in rock music. Before Entwistle came along as a member of the Who, bassists seldom stood out for their playing and few casual listeners knew or cared what purpose the four-stringed instrument served -- after he came along, everyone knew."
He truly anchored the sound of the group, using his custom built, extended neck bass to play both the bass lines, rhythms, and countermelodies. His songwriting was twisted, humorous, and at times very dark, and he had a very bizarre sense of humor. Check out "Boris the Spider," "Heaven and Hell," "Whiskey Man," and "My Wife,"
Today I found many videos of the Who, so please enjoy the bass playing and thunderous stage shows you're about to see!
First, some tame stuff from early in their career. Here's a promotional video done in 1964 for their first smash hit, "I Can't Explain." (Sorry for the ad up front).
Here’s an early gem from 1965, a video of the Who lip-synching to the awesome studio version of “Substitute” John's "lead bass" pumps big time!
A rare (and very twisted!) gem! I found the original studio version of a song John wrote for the B side of "Substitute," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
This one's a lost gem! From an uncompleted movie in 1964, back when the Who were known as the High Numbers, here's "The High Numbers performing "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" and "I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying."
Here's The Who on the last "Shindig!" show in 1965 doing a medley of "I Can't Explain," "Daddy Rolling Stone," and "My Generation."
From the Happy Jack album, stills set to the studio cut of Entwistle's "Doctor, Doctor."
Some live performances! From the Beat Club, 1967, "I'm A Boy,"
Another of my favorite tunes from that era! Here are the Who live at the Marquee Club in 1967 doing “So Sad ‘Bout Us.”
Here's The Who live in Helsinki 1967 doing "Substitute" and "My Generation."
From the same era in 1968, the Who in a music video of them lip-synching to the studio version of “I Can See For Miles”
A great live performance of the controversial masterpiece, "Pictures of Lily."
Here's an exciting (and loud!) version of the John Entwistle song opening the great Live At Leeds concert album. If you're so inclined, turn it up! "Heaven and Hell."
From their live performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, here's John in a skeleton outfit leading the Who in opening the set with "Heaven and Hell." You'll note that he's the only one standing still with an imperturbable look on his face in the midst of the swirling chaos!
If you want the entire 95 minute concert, here are the Who at their peak!
Speaking of live concert performances, here are several pieces of the Who performing at the Bill Graham concert in 1970 at Tanglewood, which was the last time they performed the entire Tommy album. Enjoy!
And now, a bit of Tommy!
"Christmas." (Sorry for the video glitches. It's still one of the more amazing tunes from the opera!)
And now their closer, "My Generation."
From a few years later, here's John Entwistle performing a song he wrote for the "Happy Jack" album. Live on the King Biscuit Flour Hour in 1975. set to stills, "Whiskey Man."
I was in Houston Texas November 1975 for this show! It was the first show of their 1975 US tour, and I and my friends had been waiting for that night for a long time! Yes, they really did achieve a “maximum r & b sound” on stage that rivaled or surpassed what they did in the studio when they weren’t maxing out their amps!
I found as many clips from that show as I could, and put them in order of the set list. For your enjoyment, a live concert by the Who of
From the same 1975 tour, this time in Cleveland, the Who doing John's composition "Boris the Spider."
Here they are live in Essen in 1981 doing “You Better You Bet”
Here’s the official music video from 1981 of the Who doing ">"You Better,You Bet."
In Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, 17th December 1982, the Who doing "Boris the Spider."
Here's a live performance by the Who at Radio City Music Hall in 1989 set to stills of the haunted John Entwistle composition from "Tommy," "Cousin Kevin."
Here are a few from his early solo albums.
From his solo studio album, "Smash your head against the wall," John's song that opened most Who concerts for a lot of years, "Heaven and Hell."
From many years later, not that many months before he died, The Who at The Royal Albert Hall November 2000 doing another signature John Entwistle tune that doesn't have a very uplifting sentiment, "My Wife." From the same show, a major league bass solo on a song titled "5:15."
Here's another live performance at Camden Entertainment Centre, New Jersey, or "My Wife."
We'll finish today’s music with a tribute video someone made of and for John titled "My Wife (video for John)"
This is a strange little documentary called “Is There Life After the Who,” (or maybe “There Is Life After Who”) done some time in themed-80s. It really looks like a very informal “cinema verite’” attempt using very low tech equipment and a home movie approach.
I also found an interesting 7 part professionally produced documentary called “An Ox’s Tale – The John Entwistle Story,” narrated by Peter Frampton. It's of significantly better quality than the other documentary. If you want to know more about this amazing talent, postwar England, and the awesome music scene that developed during the 50s and 60s, for your viewing pleasure,
Happy birthday and RIP, John. I'm sure you and Moon the Loon are blowing up astral toilets in astral hotels somewhere in an obscure frequency of the Bardo. Sorry you died so young at 57, but at least you were at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel. Seems fitting, since you were one of the hardest rockers of them all.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson