PERFORMING ARTS

The Ox: The Authorized Biography of The Who’s John Entwistle

Hachette. Apr. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780306922855. $30. MUSIC
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Bass players are the most wooden, boring, and decidedly unsexy musicians on any rock stage—at least according to common wisdom. This biography of The Who’s John Entwistle demonstrates that there are sometimes germs of truth at the core of clichés. Entwistle was indeed known for playing his bass while standing stock still, stage right, and nearly expressionless while his bandmates unleashed kinetic mayhem around him. Beyond that, stereotypes fail. Rees (Robert Plant: A Life) reveals that Entwistle was an enigmatic character who led a fairly domestic married life when home, but a quintessential rock star’s life while touring. Nicknamed “the Ox” for his ability to consume large amounts of alcohol—and sometimes drugs—without betraying signs of intoxication, the seemingly quiet, gentlemanly Entwistle—aided by his more sloppy and notorious partner-in-crime, drummer Keith Moon— typically engineered the legendary destructive after-parties, orgies often shunned by bandmates Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry. Entwistle was also an extremely flamboyant shopaholic and collector of curiosities such as antique weaponry and medical mannequins, all of which he loved to show off.
VERDICT Solidly researched and written, and fleshed out with the recollections of Entwistle’s son, Chris, this biography of one of the genre’s finest bass players and most intriguing personalities will strike a chord with serious fans of classic rock.

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