In loving memory of John Alec Entwistle, 9 October 1944-27 June 2002, patron saint of spiders and bass god extraordinaire.
I still remember being gobsmacked by the news that Junnykins had suddenly passed away on the eve of The Who’s 2002 Summer tour. I even remember the day of the week, Thursday. Though I’ve been a Petey girl since I was fourteen, I was still emotionally gutted. That was all I could journal about in Athena for weeks. It was even more shocking to discover he was doing cocaine and cheating on his common-law wife with a groupie when it happened, but I’m not going to slander the dead. That was his personal business, and now he has to work it out with God. Castigating him for poor choices won’t change the fact that they already happened, and he’s no longer here to defend himself.
I know there’s a scientific reason for thunder and lightning, but ever since he passed, I’ve liked to believe he’s giving a concert in the other world every time there’s a thunderstorm. And it always seems to rain and thunder around his Jahrzeit. (I use the German spelling instead of one of the Yiddish spellings because, to be frank, I find German far superior to Yiddish. It looks and sounds so much more cultured, and I’m half-German besides.)
There are so many parallels between John Entwistle and George Harrison. To name but a few:
They were dubbed “The Quiet One” of their respective bands.
They had to beg for a few bones per each album, and showed what they were really capable of with solo work.
Fans obviously love and respect them, but it seems less-common to find someone who holds him as their fave rave. It was really rare when we got a John girl on the estrogen Who lists.
They died only seven months apart. It was a punch in the gut to lose John so soon after losing Georgiekins. John’s death was even more of a sucker punch, since no one had seen that one coming at all. At least we knew George was dying, and so were emotionally preparing ourselves for the inevitable.
They were so much deeper and more interesting than one might assume at first glance, with lots of interesting hobbies.
Each was the second to go in his respective band.
Casual fans have probably never heard any of the Who songs John sings lead on (apart from maybe “Boris the Spider” and “My Wife”), but they’re definitely awesome and worth a listen. My favourite is “When I Was a Boy,” which can be found on the rarities collection Who’s Missing. I also love “Success Story” on The Who by Numbers (where he does the deep Boris voice), “One at a Time” on It’s Hard, “905” on Who Are You, “Cousin Kevin Model Child” on the Odds and Sods bonus tracks, and “The Quiet One” on Face Dances. He also played several different types of horns on the band’s songs.
My first Who album was Tommy, in September 2000, after years of casually liking and being interested in them. At first, I couldn’t even tell the three dark-haired ones apart, and only knew Roger since he’s the only blonde. I somehow correctly guessed their voices when listening to that album for the very first time. I obviously knew Roger, since he’s the lead singer, and then I guessed Pete might be the one with the high-pitched voice. It was basically process of elimination to figure out John was the third one.
If you’re interested, you can check out the bio I wrote for John at Find A Grave. I had to grab his interment before anyone else could write a better biography.
Requiesat in pace, my sweet Ox. It was an honor to share Planet Earth with you for 22 years and six months.