John Entwistle

John Entwistle (1944–2002) was an English rock bassist and songwriter, known as “the quiet one” in The Who, his band of four decades. Renown for his deep, fluid tones, he wrote the Who staples “Boris the Spider,” “My Wife,” and “Trick of the Light.”

As a solo artist, Entwistle released the 1971–73 albums Smash Your Head Against the Wall, Whistle Rymes, and Rigor Mortis Sets In on Track Records, followed by the 1975 Decca release Mad Dog with his side-act Ox.

After rounds of Who commitments and production work for the Fabulous Poodles, Entwistle released his final solo album: the 1981 Atco release Too Late the Hero.

Early Life

He was born John Alec Entwistle on October, 9, 1944, in Chiswick, West London, to trumpeter Herbert Entwistle (1915–2003) and pianist Maud (née Lee, 1922–2011). Maud divorced Herbert soon after John’s birth and raised the boy with her parents in South Acton.

At age seven, John began piano lessons. He took up trumpet at Acton County Grammar School and played French horn in the Middlesex Schools Symphony Orchestra. In his second year, he befriended fellow pupil Pete Townshend. They formed The Confederates, a trad jazz band that altered course with the UK advent of rock ‘n’ roll.

Due to the overpowering volume of electric instruments, John abandoned brass for the guitar but soon settled on bass: a natural fit for his large fingers. His talents impressed expelled Acton County senior Roger Daltrey, whose band The Detours hired John as their bassist.

In 1962, Daltrey switched from guitar to vocals and Entwistle roped in Townshend. They gigged the burgeoning R&B circuit with drummer Doug Samden, who cleared in 1964 for wunderkind sticksman Keith Moon. The lineup of Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle, and Moon cut one single as The High Numbers and settled as The Who.

Smash Your Head Against the Wall

John Entwistle released his debut solo album, Smash Your Head Against the Wall, in May 1971 on Track Records.

1. “My Size” (3:43)
2. “Pick Me Up (Big Chicken)” (3:43)
3. “What Are We Doing Here?” (3:49)
4. “What Kind of People Are They?” (2:44)
5. “Heaven and Hell” (4:50)

6. “Ted End” (2:33)
7. “You’re Mine” (4:39)
8. “No. 29 (Eternal Youth)” (5:25)
9. “I Believe in Everything” (3:07)

1997 CD reissue
10. “Cinnamon Girl” (Neil Young)

Recorded November 1970 and January 1971
Studio Trident Studios (Soho, London)

John Entwistle – lead vocals; bass guitar; piano; keyboards; flugelhorn; trumpet; trombone
Dave “Cyrano” Langston – electric and acoustic guitars; backing vocals
Jerry Shirley – drums
Vivian Stanshall – Latin American percussion (8)
Keith Moon – Latin American percussion (8); backing vocals
Neil Innes – Latin American percussion (8); backing vocals

John Entwistle – producer
Roy Thomas – engineer
Graham Hughes – cover artwork; design; photography

A: I Believe In Everything B: My Size

Whistle Rymes

John Entwistle released his second solo album, Whistle Rymes, on November 3, 1972, on Track Records.

1. “Ten Little Friends” (4:03)
2. “Apron Strings” (3:47)
3. “I Feel Better” (4:46)
4. “Thinkin’ It Over” (3:12)
5. “Who Cares?” (4:28)

6. “I Wonder” (2:58)
7. “I Was Just Being Friendly” (3:33)
8. “The Window Shopper” (3:28)
9. “I Found Out” (3:51)
10. “Nightmare (Please Wake Me Up)” (6:16)

Recorded May 1972
Studio Island (London)

John Entwistle — lead vocals; bass guitar; keyboards; synthesizers; bass synthesizer; trumpet; piano; French horn
Peter Frampton — electric guitar
John Weider — backing vocals; violin (10)
Rod Coombes — drums
Gordon Barton — drums
Jimmy McCulloch — electric guitar
Neil Sheppard — electric piano; organ
Bryan Williams — trombone; keyboards
Alan Ross — acoustic guitar

John Entwistle — producer
John Alcock — producer
Brian Humphries — engineer
Mike Weighell — engineer
Graham Lethbridge — cover design; drawing

Rigor Mortis Sets In

John Entwistle released his third solo album, Rigor Mortis Sets In, in May 1973 on Track Records.

Recorded October–November 1972
Studio Nova Sound Studios (London, England)

1. “Gimme That Rock ‘n’ Roll” (3:00)
2. “Mr. Bass Man” Johnny Cymbal (2:49)
3. “Do the Dangle” (4:05)
4. “Hound Dog” Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller (2:29)
5. “Made in Japan” (3:48)

6. “My Wife” (3:32)
7. “Roller Skate Kate” (4:14)
8. “Peg Leg Peggy” (3:38)
9. “Lucille” Albert Collins, Richard Penniman (2:53)
10. “Big Black Cadillac” (3:35)

John Entwistle – lead vocals, bass guitar, electric guitar, keyboards
Alan Ross – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, accordion, trumpet, synthesizer; lead vocals (2)
Jim Ryan – lead guitar
Graham Deakin – drums, percussion (5, 6, 8)
Tony Ashton – keyboards, Hammond organ, piano
Bryan Williams – trombone, electric organ (6, 8)
Howie Casey – saxophone (1, 3, 4)

Members of the Ladybirds:
Gloria George – backing vocals
Maggie Stredder – backing vocals
Marian Davies – backing vocals

John Entwistle – producer
John Alcock – producer
Mike Weighell – engineer

A: Made In Japan B: Hound Dog

In France
A: Do the Dangle
B: Gimme That Rock N’ Roll

Mad Dog

John Entwistle released his fourth solo album, Mad Dog, in February 1975 on Track–Decca; formally credited to John Entwistle’s Ox.

1. “I Fall to Pieces” (3:55)
2. “Cell Number 7” John Entwistle, Tony Ashton (4:02)
3. “You Can Be So Mean” (3:55)
4. “Lady Killer” (3:29)
5. “Who in the Hell?” (3:34)

6. “Mad Dog” (5:27)
7. “Jungle Bunny” Entwistle, Graham Deakin (4:03)
8. “I’m So Scared” (4:01)
9. “Drowning” (4:41)

Studio Novasound Studios, Scorpio Studios (both London)
Producer John Alcock John Entwistle

John Entwistle – lead vocals, bass guitar, 8-string bass guitar, synthesizer
Jimmy Ryan – guitar
Mike Wedgwood – guitar, string arrangements
Robert A. Johnson – guitar (tracks, 2, 6, 7)
Graham Deakin – drums, percussion
Eddie Jobson – piano, violin
Tony Ashton – piano
John Mealing – piano
Mike Deacon – piano (2)
Nashville Katz – string arrangements
John Mumford – trombone
Dick Parry – baritone saxophone
Howie Casey – tenor saxophone
Dave Caswell – trumpet
Doreen Chanter – backing vocals
Irene Chanter – backing vocals
Juanita “Honey” Franklin – backing vocals

A: Mad Dog B: Cell Number 7

Too Late the Hero

John Entwistle released his fifth solo album, Too Late the Hero, on November 23, 1981, on Atco.

1. “Try Me” (3:55)
2. “Talk Dirty” (4:06)
3. “Lovebird” (4:51)
4. “Sleeping Man” (3:55)
5. “I’m Coming Back” (4:01)

6. “Dancing Master” (4:23)
7. “Fallen Angel” (4:40)
8. “Love Is a Heart Attack” (5:13)
9. “Too Late the Hero” (7:25)

Recorded 1979–May 1981
Studio Crystal Studios (Los Angeles), Ramport Studios (London)

John Entwistle — vocals; bass guitar; eight-string bass guitar; piano; synthesizers
Joe Walsh — acoustic and electric guitars; piano; cabassa; waste container; tambourine; limps; synthesizer
Joe Vitale — drums; percussion; piano; flute; clavinet; timpani; metronome
Billy Nicholls — backing vocals (1, 3–6, 9)

John Entwistle — producer
Dave “Cyrano” Langston — producer
Joe Walsh — executive producer
Joe Vitale — executive producer
Dave “Cyrano” Langston — engineering
Neil Hornby — assistant engineer
Jim Hill — assistant engineer
Jeff Eccles — assistant engineer
Mike Reese — mastering

Gered Mankowitz — album cover design, concept, cover photo, photography

A: Too Late the Hero
B: I’m Coming Back


  • Smash Your Head Against the Wall (1971)
  • Whistle Rymes (1972)
  • Rigor Mortis Sets In (1973)
  • Mad Dog (1975 • John Entwistle’s Ox)
  • Too Late the Hero (1981)


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