John Entwistle: The Quiet One

27 Jun

The Who's Who By Numbers album

The Who's 1975 album The Who By
Numbers, the cover drawn by bassist John Entwistle

Remembering The Who’s bassist John
Entwistle, who died on this day in 2002.

Entwistle was known as The
Quiet One (and the Ox) in the group, but like the youngest
voice in a family struggling to be heard, it was just as much that
all the other personalities of the group in its early days —
Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and Keith Moon — were louder. Which
is what Entwistle himself suggested in his song “The Quiet
One.” Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman famously described
Entwistle as “the quietest man in private but the loudest man on

In the Who, that wasn’t easy. But Entwistle made his
voice heard when there was a lull. He was the first to produce
a solo album, and eventually did five in all. He drew the
caricatures and cover for The Who By Numbers; how many Who
fans never noticed Entwistle’s signature in the lower left?

And he
consistently wrote songs to the group’s albums (except for
Quadrophenia), his production increasing as the years went on.
Boris The Spider (A Quick One), My Wife (Who’s Next), Success Story
(Who By Numbers), Trick of the Light, 905 and Had
Enough (Who Are You), The Quiet One (Face Dances)
and Dangerous and One At A Time (It’s Hard) were all authored
by Entwistle.

The circumstances of his death mixed rock and roll
and Las Vegas. He had retired for the evening with a Vegas
stripper, and the coroner’s report said he died of a heart
attack induced by cocaine use (Entwistle had high blood pressure,
high cholesterol and heart disease; he smoked, he drank
. . .).

The band was there to open a concert tour the next day, in
part to help Entwistle pay off some debts. The tour went on,
Townshend noting the tragic irony.

Entwistle was the second member
of the band to die a drug-related death, Moon preceding
him by 24 years. Entwistle was 57 years old when he died.

critic Dave Marsh on Entwistle, from “John
Entwistle was the first musician to figure out how to use the
bass for carrying forward melody and weaving additional themes
through a song, while still stabilizing the beat — that is, he
figured a way to balance the extreme playing of Pete Townshend and
Keith Moon simultaneously, a stupendous feat . . . There
wasn’t any precedent for what Entwistle did, and all bassists since
— from Jaco Pastorious to Doug Wimbish and beyond owe him
their sense of freedom.”

Part of the lyrics to Entwistle’s The
Quiet One: Everybody calls me the quiet one
But you just don’t understand You
can’t listen you won’t hear me
With your head
stuck in the sand
I ain’t never had time for
words that don’t rhyme
My head is in a
I ain’t quiet — everybody else is
too loud

A link to a live version of the song

sources:, the,


One Response to “John Entwistle: The Quiet One”


  1. A Matter of Perspective . . . and a thing called Irony | Inspired Vision - August 25, 2011

    […] John Entwistle: The Quiet One ( […]

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