The Ox: 9 October 1944 – 27 June 2002

From Roger’s statement on John Entwistle’s passing, 19 years ago today.

“I just hope that God has got his earplugs ready.

Whatever happens, he’ll have to reinvent thunder as it simply won’t be loud enough anymore!”

– Roger Daltrey, Los Angeles, 28 June 2002

. . . . .


A few years ago, Pete Townshend received a letter from a fan, Carl Borden, containing a letter to him from the late, great John Entwistle original written back in 1973. Pete asked us to publish his response to Carl and we published John’s letter on our old website. Sadly that website post has gone but we are pleased to repost John’s letter to Carl once again for those who missed it the first time round and for those who’d like to read it again.

Pete wrote back to Carl Borden . . .

“Dear Carl Borden, Thank you so much for sending me the hard copy of the letter from John to you. It is certainly the only one like it I’ve ever seen, and it is full of passion from his best years. Could I have it reproduced on the Who web site? Fans would really get a new insight into John’s generous spirit. Pete”

Carl generously consented. Here’s a transcript of John’s letter. And below is his original letter.

Dear Carl,

Thanks for you letter, sorry it’s taken me a year to answer.

It’s nice to know that someone over there has really got into my music. Being fair to Pete and Glyn Johns, I was present when “My Wife” was mixed for the “Who’s Next” album, and it was due to the characteristics of the studio that the ‘mix’ was so pathetic. It sounded great until it got on the record.

One of the reasons I started making Solo Albums (other than being so frustrated as a writer, I thought about breaking up the Band) was that recording had become a boring drag and I could remember that when we recorded the “Happy Jack” album we really enjoyed it. The Who were becoming too perfect and I wanted to get back to the “pissing about” recording sessions. ‘I DID.’

The guitar Frampton used on “Whistle Rhymes” was an old Les Paul Jnr solid model that someone had given him as a present. He put it through a little Ampeg Amp and a Wah Pedal wedged somewhere in the middle of the tone sweep. It was the first time he’d used the guitar and he was knocked out with it. I think he played better on ‘Rhymes’ than his own Solo Album. Incidentally Frampton did all his solos in the space of 2 hours after hearing each number at the most 3 times. I think with luck he’ll be one of the top guitarists in the Rock Field soon.

I’ve no idea who Gordon Barton plays for. The first time I met him was in the studio and I haven’t seen him since. One of those musicians that pass into your life for a few numbers then pass out again (he did a few tunes during the sessions).

Most of the numbers on Pete’s Album are Demos he recorded in his own studio for The Who. When we listen to his demos we completely disregard the drum and bass figures (I think everybody should).

For the next year, due to the Who’s commitments a solo tour is out of the question but I’m hoping to arrange a tour for 74 with the recording group I have just formed “Rigor Mortis.”

It is not a solo album in the same context as the other two. Its new ROCK N’ ROLL written in the old style. I’ve never been more enthusiastic about anything in my life. The single “Made in Japan” backed with “Roller Skate Kate” is due for release in about a months time.

I realized that ‘Rigor Mortis’ was setting into Rock n’ Roll what with re-releases of everything from “Donna” to “Donny Osmonds” bullshit. So as an exercise I wrote 2 numbers in the old style and they formed the basis of the Album.

The musicians include Alan Ross who played acoustic guitar on ‘Whistle Rhymes’ (now changed to electric guitar) and the drummer from his band “Ro Ro”, Graham Deakin, who must be the best drummer I’ve ever played with. On Piano and Organ is Tony Ashton, late of “Ashton, Gardner and Dyke” and he now plays or outplays with “Family”. 4 dozen bottles of Brandy and 3 weeks later we came up with the most ‘down to earth’ up Tempo Rock n’ Roll album I’ve ever been involved with.

I totally agree with you in that an artist or groups personality shows and feelings should come over in the playing of a record and to that effect I’ve left in several “funnies” we accidentally recorded in between “takes.” I feel it helps whoever’s listening imagine the atmosphere and state of mind of the group at the time of recording, Giving them an idea of what happened “behind the scenes” at the sessions and removing the plastic bubbles surrounding albums like “Tommy” and “Who’s Next.” Albums shouldn’t seem as though they appeared suddenly by Magic devoid of any character and emotion.

Even “Towser” is not having much success with his solo album and I feel that with ‘Rigor Mortis’ I may have found my answer. ‘Rigor Mortis’ live on stage could really be something else and, maybe I could throw off the “kickback” image I use with The Who on stage. If I didn’t stand still The Who would look like a bunch of bouncing loonies (which they are anyway).

 It was really nice to hear from you anyway and I hope this letter answers all your questions. If I can fit my swollen head through my studio door I’d better start writing songs again.

 Keep Listening,

John Entwistle

P.S. “Don’t care was made to care” is a line from a song in my childhood. My mother used to “quote” it to me every time I looked up at her, pouted, and snapped “Who Cares.” I suppose it was meant to frighten me so that I “did care”.

13 thoughts on “The Ox: 9 October 1944 – 27 June 2002”

  1. Marty says:

    Wow that’s so incredible!!!! This is a one of a kind letter!!!! Thanks Pete and Roger and The Who for all the amazing music!!!! F*** ing amazing!!!! Have a great day!!!!

  2. Luis says:

    Interesting to read this letter. He is generous enough to answer. I like what he wrote about Peter Frampton; all his fans should hear “Whistle Rymes”, not only John Entwistle s best solo album, but a real contender to Pete s´best solo albums.

  3. Dan Stenger says:

    John was an amazing genius with a great sense of humor. He was very generous in many ways. He would have been so proud of The Who today.

    I saw his 75 tour in Indianapolis, at the old Coliseum. John was the epitome of class, a true virtuoso. He is smiling from heaven.



  5. graham deakiin says:

    Nice to see such a great comment thank you, Graham Deakin

  6. graham deakin says:

    I had a Jam session with The Who 21st April 1975 at Ramport recording studios 3 days before the “The Who By Numbers” LP

  7. ommy says:

    I play drums on Sally Simpson, a track on Tommy the movie

    1. The Who says:

      You must be Graham Deakin then! You also played on several of John’s songs including ‘Peg Leg Peggy’ and ‘My Wife’ on John’s Rigor Mortis Sets In album. Nice to hear from you, Graham.

  8. igor mortis set says:

    Hello yes i am Graham Deakin the drummer on Rigor Mortis Sets In and Mad Dog, also the live album recorded on tour with John. Nice to be in touch, very best regards to you

  9. graham deakin says:

    Best wishes and good luck to The Who going forward

  10. bruce tucker says:

    So cool to know there are other folks besides me into the OX’s solo works.

  11. Rob Benner says:

    No one can ever come close to the Ox. He lived to play and it showed in every performance.

  12. Carl Borden says:

    I am very pleased that John’s wonderful letter to me has been reposted. I couldn’t believe it when, six weeks after I’d sent my letter to him, I opened my mailbox and saw his reply. I treasure that letter to this day.

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