Who Tour To Continue Despite Entwistle's Death

The Who's summer North American tour will continue on despite the death yesterday (June 27) of founding bassist John Entwistle. According to a note posted on guitarist Pete Townshend's official Web si

The Who's summer North American tour will continue on despite the death yesterday (June 27) of founding bassist John Entwistle. According to a note posted on guitarist Pete Townshend's official Web site, "Pete and [vocalist] Roger [Daltrey] have decided that the tour will carry on, commencing with the Hollywood Bowl show on Monday. Bass player Pino Palladino has been drafted in for the shows. The Las Vegas and Irvine shows will be rescheduled for new dates."

The tour was originally set to open tonight in Las Vegas and proceed to Irvine, Calif., on Monday. Entwistle was found dead yesterday in his room at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel room of an apparent heart attack. He was on medication for a heart condition, according to Steve Luongo, the drummer in Entwistle's solo band for the last 15 years. An autopsy was scheduled for today, but Clark County Coroner Ron Flud said no foul play was suspected.

Elsewhere on Townshend's site, a note reads, "We are going on. First show Hollywood Bowl. Pray for us John, wherever you are." Palladino is a veteran session player whose credits include Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, B.B. King, and Tina Turner. He backed Daltrey during two 1994 concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall that celebrated Townshend's compositions.

The Entwistle family is said to be in full support of Townshend and Daltrey's decision. "[Entwistle] lived for music and will always live within the Who's music," his son Christoper said in a statement. "This is what he would have wished and our love goes out to the remaining band members and the entourage that makes up the Who family."

Outside the Hard Rock, stunned fans of Entwistle left flowers and consoled each other. Lauren J. Hammer, 35, of Boulder, Colo., held her Colorado license plate that read "WHO R U" and business cards that stated "Who Fan Extraordinaire." The casino played the band's songs, and the hotel changed its marquee from a concert promotion to a memorial reading, "John Entwistle. 1944-2002. You will be missed by all."

From London, Entwistle's family issued a statement that thanked fans for their messages of condolence and asked for "a brief period of privacy in which to mourn and adjust our lives to this tragedy."

Entwistle gave one of his final interviews to Billboard last Friday. He expressed his enthusiasm over the response to the recent Who compilation "The Ultimate Collection," which debuted at No. 31 on The Billboard 200 two weeks ago. "I'm glad that there's a bunch of stuff made for people who are just now discovering us," he said. "There's a lot of 12-, 14-, 15-, 16-year olds that are just finding out who we are" (for the full story, click here).

This summer, Cream's Jack Bruce is filling the bass slot anchored last year by Entwistle on the A Walk Down Abbey Road tour, which features familiar musicians covering Beatles songs and re-interpreting their own material. "He was just a great bass player and a great guy," Bruce told Billboard.com. "That's all you can say. He was a real down-to-earth guy. As far as his own style, he had a lot of chops and played loud. He was a unique player, definitely."

Bruce hadn't spoken to Entwistle in a couple of years, but fondly recalls meeting the Who in 1967 while Cream toured the U.S. for the first time. "You don't forget the first time you come to the States," he says. "We spent a lot of time doing the 'Murray the K' [radio] show, which was going over for about 10 days in New York City. And we got a bit crazy towards the end. I certainly remember that."

"As a musician, he did for the bass guitar what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar," said Luongo, who played drums with Entwistle's band. Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman described Entwistle as "the quietest man in private but the loudest man on stage. He was unique and irreplaceable." Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for the Doors, called Entwistle "one of the great, great rock'n'roll bassists of all time. A real genius."

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.; John Benson, Cleveland & AP

Copyright 2002 Billboard.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.