John Entwistle of the Who in 1982 (AP Photo)
In most rock bands, the bassist is notoriously the quiet man, the one who stands almost eerily still except for the motion of his hands as he plays, even as the rest of the band jumps around rocking out and abusing their instruments. The Who's bassist, John Entwistle, who died June 27, 2002, was the epitome of the staid bassist, standing stock-still while Pete Townshend smashed his guitar and Keith Moon exploded his drum kit.
Although his onstage appearance was that of the classic quiet man, Entwistle wasn't afraid to make a lot of noise with his instrument – he had to, in order to be heard over the loud rock of Townshend, Moon and Roger Daltrey. And incidentally, Enwistle was also, according to many rock music fans, the best bass player in the world. His distinctive "full treble, full volume" style helped get him there.
Entwistle wrote a number of the Who's songs, though he rarely sang lead, even on the songs he wrote. One notable exception was "Boris the Spider"… and this performance proves than even when Entwistle took the mic, he remained essentially immobile.
Cameramen filming the Who couldn't help lingering on the antics of Daltrey and Townshend, sometimes ignoring Entwistle as he calmly turned in magnificent performance after magnificent performance. But all these years after his death, we still love catching those glimpses of him, presiding over his bass with perfect focus. He didn't need to move – his sound was more than enough.
Written by Linnea Crowther