One of the most dynamic rock songs of the 20th century would be nothing without John Entwistle and his behemoth bass.
Often the forgotten member of the band The Who, Entwistle made a career out of being the strong silent type and earned himself the nickname of the Ox, for those very traits.
‘Baba O’Riley’ is one of The Who’s most iconic songs and offered the chance for both Keith Moon and Pete Townshend let a rip instrumentally while Roger Daltrey did his own gymnastics with his vocal. Yet none of this would be possible without Entwistle’s mercurial bass.
One of the most vibrant moments of the bands live show comes with the introduction of ‘Bab O’Riley’ and this rendition of it is particularly brilliant. It’s an easily recognisable piece of seemingly absurd chaos but it is all underpinned by Entwistle’s smooth and calm performances. With his instrument seemingly glued to his stomach, he delivers a powerful performance.
Every band needs a quiet member and Entwistle was more than happy to be that for The Who. Like George Harrison in The Beatles, Entwistle neglected the fast and furious limelight and instead focused on his playing. It allowed the bassist to become one of the best in the business.
On ‘Baba O’Riley’ he’s truly allowed to shine and the first song of Who’s Next ranks among one of The Who’s most beloved tracks. It sees Townshend try to capture the feeling of a teenage wasteland and accurately depict the duplicity of modern life.
Perhaps the most brilliant thing about this performance however is just how stoically Entwistle can remain while his fingers work furiously up and down the fretboard. The Ox is proof that you don’t need to commit most of your body to the instrument if you can give 100% of your brain.
Listen to the isolated bass of John Entwistle on The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ below.