The Who have hired bassist Pino Palladino, whose lengthy resume includes work for Eric Clapton, D’Angelo, Melissa Etheridge, Celine Dion, Joan Armatrading and others, to fill in for John Entwistle for their twenty-seven-date tour, which begins tonight at the Hollywood Bowl. Entwistle died on June 27th in Las Vegas of an apparent heart attack, the day before the tour was initially scheduled to begin.
“He agreed immediately to step in to this difficult post,” Townshend said of Palladino. “He is a gentleman and a professional. We talked a little about his role here, and I made it clear we do not expect him to attempt to emulate, parody or copy John Entwistle in any way. Pino is a master in his own way, but the one request I made was that — at first — he play as loud as he can bear!”
Daltrey also addressed the decision to carry on. “My feeling about where Pete and I are left now is my belief that our music goes beyond and before us,” he posted, “transcending everything we do. John lived his life for the road and to play live on stage and I’m sure he would want us to be doing this. My reason for doing what we are doing now, and it is going to take a lot of strength from everybody, is to celebrate John’s life. The spirit of John Entwistle is intrinsically woven into every song we play. By playing our music, I believe we can help ourselves and our fans grieve and begin to come to terms with our loss, huge as it is. I just hope that God has got his earplugs ready. Whatever happens he’ll have to reinvent thunder as it simply won’t be loud enough any more.”
But Townshend’s Web post expressed uncertainty about the notion of the tour as a tribute. “For my part I am not attempting to deliberately establish any sense of memorial or tribute to John,” he said. “Unlike others I entirely respect (including many of John’s friends and family) I don’t feel I know for certain that John would have wanted us to go on. I simply believe we have a duty to go on, to ourselves, ticket buyers, staff, promoters, big and little people. I also have a duty to myself and my dependent family and friends. I also want to help guide Roger and the rest of the band at this time, all of whom have been shaken by John’s death.”
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The band’s first two cancelled dates of the tour, June 28th in Las Vegas and June 29th in Mountain View, California, will be rescheduled later in the tour.
The Who soldiered on after the 1978 death of drummer Keith Moon, though the band announced in 1982 that they would no longer be touring. Townshend, Entwistle and singer Roger Daltrey reunited for a 1985 Live Aid performance, and celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary in 1989 with a forty-three-date U.S. tour. A 2000 outing, with drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son) and keyboardist John Bundrick, was the band’s last. A small piece of the tour was captured on the live album, The Who Live: The Blues to the Bush.
Entwistle was found dead at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Thursday, of an apparent heart attack. The bass player was in the city prior to the Who’s performance for an exhibit of his artwork at a local gallery. He was fifty-seven-years-old.