15 Years Ago: Who Bassist John Entwistle Is Laid to Rest
Entwistle’s body was repatriated back to England, where he was buried on July 10, 2002, near the village church in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. The bassist had lived there with his partner Lisa Pritchard-Johnson, and suffered from an undiagnosed heart condition that contributed to his death.
Bandmates Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey flew back for the service, where 200 other friends and family joined Pritchard-Johnson, Entwistle’s mother Queenie and Who drummer Kenney Jones in mourning at St. Edwards, a 12th-century structure that stands about 60 miles north of London.
“I’d been worried about his health for the last four years,” Daltrey told the Daily Mail after the funeral, but he didn’t feel comfortable in approaching a figure so famously standoffish that he’d been nicknamed the Ox. “We knew he had blood pressure problems, but no one thought to ask him to get his heart checked. But if we had, he would have told us to mind our own business.”
A crowd of well wishers and fans gathered outside of the church, where the service was broadcast on loudspeakers. The Rev. Colin Wilson, a family friend, began the service with a message of hope. “I think he would want us all to be strong, determined, unafraid of the future, ready to meet every challenge, to believe in ourselves and in each other,” Wilson said, adding that Entwistle was now “reunited with [hard-living original Who drummer] Keith [Moon] up there making great music.”
A poem by Joyce Grenfell was read, and traditional hymns were sung, before Entwistle was laid to rest. Daltrey and Townshend emerged from the church and hugged near a floral arrangement that read “Ox RIP.”
“Sometimes I think John was more of a shock than Keith because I kind of expected Keith to die,” Daltrey admitted in a 2015 talk with KSHE. “We’d gone on in life much longer, so the relationship becomes that much deeper. One day he was there, and it was ‘See you tomorrow, John’ – and then, boom, gone.”
Entwistle had arrived in Las Vegas before Daltrey and Townshend in order to attend an art exhibition featuring his work. On the night he suffered a fatal heart attack, the 57-year-old musician spent an evening drinking with his bandmates, then left with a new female companion. Cocaine was later found in his system. The Who continued their North American tour, with Pino Palladino filling in for Entwistle. A star-studded public memorial service was held for Entwistle later that year.