Skip to main content

The 5 standout tunes from the pen of John Entwistle

The Who bassist was a very good songwriter in a group led by a great one, namely Pete Townshend. Here are our picks for the five noteworthy John Entwistle songs.

Fans of The Who! Get the newest John Entwistle CD release, Rarities Oxhumed: Volume One with 12-page booklet and rare art prints in an exclusive collector's bundle (below), only available at the Goldmine shop!

John Entwistle's "Rarities Oxhumed: Volume One" Goldmine bundle

John Entwistle's "Rarities Oxhumed: Volume One" Goldmine bundle

Rarities Oxhumed: Volume One is the first in a series of posthumous releases of John Entwistle's music as part of a partnership with Deko Entertainment and longtime friend and collaborator Steve Luongo. The Goldmine bundle comes with CD + 12-page booklet with never-before-seen photos and a track-by-track description — it also includes two (2) numbered, 9x12” art prints; these are professionally printed copies of original drawings by John Entwistle. Limited to 100 copies and exclusive to only Goldmine.


John Entwistle photo from Rarities Oxhumed: Volume One release, courtesy of DEKO Entertainment

John Entwistle photo from Rarities Oxhumed: Volume One release, courtesy of DEKO Entertainment

By William Kopp

Of course John ‍Entwistle is best known as the legendary bassist for The Who. As critic John Swenson astutely observed in the 1979 edition of The Rolling Stone Record Guide, bassist John Entwistle “had the misfortune to be a good songwriter in a group (The Who) with a great one,” namely Pete Townshend. The man affectionately known as “The Ox” died in 2002; had he lived, he would have celebrated his 74th birthday last month. Here are five standout tunes from the pen of John Entwistle.


Heaven and Hell” – The Who recorded this Entwistle track in 1970 for BBC radio, and subsequently released it as a B-side of “Summertime Blues,” a live cut from The Who Live at Leeds. “Heaven and Hell” was a mainstay of the band’s live set for some time; The Who opened their Woodstock set with the song.


Success Story” – John Entwistle’s acerbic humor and storytelling skills come together perfectly for this superb track included on 1975’s The Who by Numbers. An amusing music video clip made for the song would be included in the motion picture documentary The Kids Are Alright, released in 1979.

Cell Number 7 – The four members of The Who found themselves in a Montreal, Canada jail cell in 1973; Entwistle wrote this witty reminiscence of the experience for 1975’s Mad Dog, his fourth solo album. The rock and roll revival-style cut features a spirited female backing chorus as well.


Trick of the Light” – Entwistle set aside his trademark sardonic humor and focused instead on themes of insecurity and self-doubt for this excellent deep cut from 1978’s Who Are You. The roaring guitar sound on this track is actually Entwistle’s thunderous eight-string bass guitar. “Trick of the Light” was released in the U.S. as a Who single, with another Entwistle track, “905” as the flip.


Too Late the Hero” – A 1981 album made with guitarist Joe Walsh, the bassist’s fifth solo album Too Late the Hero came in for critical dubbing. But this uncharacteristically emotional ballad nonetheless ranks among Entwistle’s most forthright songs. “Too Late the Hero” bubbled under on the U.S. singles charts, reaching No. 101; it fared a bit better in the U.K., where it reached No. 76.


The Goldmine store is a music collector's one-stop shopping of vinyl, CDs, box sets, collectibles and Goldmine-only exclusives. Click HERE to visit!