In 1962, Roger Daltrey bumped into John Entwistle on the street and invited him to join his band called the Detours. Entwistle, who played the French horn and bass, suggested that his good friend Pete Townshend join as the group's guitarist. They began playing regular gigs at London's Marquee Club, and by 1964 they'd changed their name to the Who.
Entwistle's father Herbert played the trumpet, and from a young age Entwistle showed great proficiency on the trumpet, French horn and piano. He began playing the bass in the very early 1960s and quickly developed his aggressive style that anchored the Who's sound for 40 years.
The Who toured relentlessly in the 1960s, building up from clubs to theaters to giant outdoor venues and festivals by the end of the decade. They quickly earned a reputation as the greatest live band in rock.
John Entwistle stood very still onstage while his three bandmates thrashed about like wild men. His fingers, however, moved across his bass with lightning speed.
Pete Townshend wrote the majority of the Who's songs, but Entwistle wrote some of their most beloved tunes, including "Boris the Spider" and "My Wife."
Pete Townshend famously smashed his guitars during early Who gigs, and Keith Moon regularly destroyed his drum kit. Entwistle, however, almost always finished the gig with his bass completely intact.
John Entwistle's bass solo in "My Generation" is perhaps the single most famous bass solo in rock history.
In 1971, Entwistle released his solo debut, Smash Your Head Against The Wall. It contained "Heaven and Hell," which often opened up Who gigs in the early 1970s.
John played the French horn on many tracks on the Who's 1969 rock opera, Tommy.
The Who's 1967 LP, The Who Sell Out, is a loose concept record that's a mock broadcast from a pirate radio station. It has actual fake commercials, including one for a Charles Atlas workout program. Entwistle's signature deep voice is on the track, and he posed as Atlas for the cover.
The Who were fashion icons in the 1960s, inspiring many teenagers across the world to wear Union Jack outfits.
Entwistle married Alison Wise in 1967, and four years, he later wrote his signature song "My Wife." It's about man stumbling home drunk, terrified that his wife is going to think he was with another woman. It's easy to imagine that this was drawn from real life. Entwistle was a quiet guy, but he loved to drink and party.
According to legend, the Who blew the Rolling Stones off their own stage at the famous 1968 Rock and Roll Circus, forcing the Stones to shelf the movie for three decades.
The success of Tommy transformed the Who into one of the biggest bands in the world, and they started to headline festivals and even perform in opera houses. The album got so huge, it began to overshadow the band. "Some people think the band's called Tommy," Entwistle said, "and the album's called The Who."
Entwistle wore a skeleton suit at many gigs during their famous 1970 tour. They played their legendary gig at Leeds University that year and headlined the Isle of Wight Festival. The band tours to this day, but many fans see this period as their peak.
The overwhelming success of 1971's Who's Next cemented their status as one of the biggest rock bands in history, but few fans knew what a painful and long process they had to endure to create the album.
John Entwistle was so fond of wine that the Who's 2004 tribute to the bassist was called "Old Red Wine." Here's a sample lyric: "You sniffed at the cork, chose low on the list/Held your glass to the light and gazed through the mist."
The Who broke up in 1982 after a farewell tour, but they reformed just three years later to play Live Aid. Entwistle was extremely frustrated by the group's long periods of inactivity in the 1980s and 1990s; he once said that being in the Who was like winning the lottery, but not cashing in the ticket.
In the 1990s, John Entwistle kept himself busy by painting and touring with his solo band and as a member of Ringo Starr's All Starr Band. The Who toured Quadrophenia in 1996 and 1997 before reforming on a more permanent basis in late 1999.
John Entwistle was found dead in his hotel room at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas on June 27th, 2002, of a sudden heart attack. The group was one day away from launching an American tour.