John Entwistle is
By Jules E. Beuck
As most Rock fans know, The Who have reformed and are touring. They will hit the Southland at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (formerly Irvine Amphitheater) on August 16. This prompted me to dig into my archives and pull out an interview I did in October of 1998 with the Who's bass player extraordinaire John Entwistle. I'm hoping that this will give you some insight into the man behind the music.
At that time, Entwistle was touring with his own band, appropriately named the John Entwistle Band, to promote music from an animated television show called "Van-Pires." Entwistle wrote the soundtrack for "Van-Pires" and an album, "Music From Van-Pires," which was to have been released to coincide with the tour. The release of the CD was first pushed back to the beginning of 1999, so it could be tied in with some action figures based on the characters in the show. Then, the planned recording appears to have been shelved, although a live tour album was released later.
We spoke with Entwistle about this album and other topics
before his show at the Crossroads in Yucaipa, Ca. One of the cuts that was to
have appeared on "Music From Van-Pires" actually featured the late
drummer of The Who, Keith Moon.
Entwistle explained, "I found this old demo and played it as a joke and towards the end realized that it was Keith playing on it. So I hauled the multi-track down and we overdubbed guitar and keyboards and a few vocal harmonies on it. It fitted in with the actual feel of the Van-Pires album."
Drummer/musical director Steve Luongo was playing for the John Entwistle Band that night. Luongo and Entwistle had been working together for over a decade by that time. We asked Entwistle how he and Luongo came to work together. "He kind of engineered a NAMM show in Chicago. He kind of engineered it that we ended up playing together. It was his band that used to do covers of Who songs and Zeppelin songs. We got on well together and we toured with his band a little bit later doing Who stuff and we (have) kind of been about an on off relationship for the next eleven years. We decided to put a proper band together so that we could tour properly."
Entwistle also discussed why Luongo used a double bass drum a la Keith Moon. "I usually need a double bass drum to fit in with what I play. It works vice versa; I usually like working with a double bass drum. You play faster."
Entwistle explained how the John Entwistle Band selected their set, "From our Web site, the songs people wanted to hear. A few people would like to suggest some real obscure ones that I wouldn't dream of playing on stage. A lot of people said '905' (from the 'Who Are You' album), a lot of people said 'Heaven And Hell' (an old Who B side and a song the Who used to open their shows in the late sixties and early seventies), 'My Size' (from Entwistle's first solo album 'Smash Your Head Against The Wall') and 'Had Enough' (also from 'Who Are You'). Out of like about thirty different (suggestions) we built up kind of a shape that would seem to suit everybody."
Entwistle is a very nice person; he has a good sense of humor and a lot of patience. The show at the Crossroads was not well-attended, but that did not stop the John Entwistle Band from putting on an amazing show and they even played all those so-called obscure songs that he would never dream of playing on stage.
Speaking of the Who concert on August 16, this writer will be in attendance. In listening to one of the Los Angeles classic rock stations, I was able to win two tickets to the show and am in the running for possibly having sixth row tickets. Entwistle was somewhat instrumental in my winning them too.
The DJ asked for the first caller who knew which song on "Who's Next" was not written by guitarist Pete Townsend. For the two or three people not familiar with "Who's Next," that song is "My Wife," which was written by Entwistle. I was the first one through to the radio station and I had the answer! I was so excited, I was jumping up and down for the next three days- I am a huge Who fanatic. I will, of course, be taking My Wife, Rose (also a photographer and staff writer for DaBelly.com), with me to the show. If you see us there feel free to say hello.