Joe Walsh 4/6/20

Joe Walsh wishes he had helped his dear friend, the late-Who bassist John Entwistle get sober, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. Walsh, who played lead guitar on Entwistle’s 1981 Too Late The Hero album, was a close friend of the Who’s dating back to 1969 when he was in the James Gang. Walsh spoke candidly about Entwistle in the new officially sanctioned biography The Ox by Paul Rees, which will be published tomorrow (April 7th).

In the book, Walsh recalled his last meeting with Entwistle in 2002 at Southern California’s NAMM music convention: “I noticed that he was having trouble hearing. Also, he was not making sense like the John that I had known. I didn’t know if he was just too drunk, or whatever. At one time, that’s how all of us rockers would get to be late, late at night. Personally, I went on in that same way until 1994 and, by then, I had turned into a full-blown alcoholic and cocaine-crazy person. But I hit bottom before I OD’d and died.”

Walsh went on to say, “I wasn’t sure whether I should, or even could, confront him. Ultimately, I was never able to sit down with John and say to him, ‘Hey, man, you’re f***ing up.’ Back in those days, I was still trying to figure out my own sobriety. Now, all these years later, I feel quite comfortable in telling someone I care about, ‘Listen up, because I know what I’m talking about.'”

Many Who fans still don’t know that Joe Walsh was shortlisted to join the band in 1989 as its lead guitarist during the Who’s 25th anniversary stadium tour. We asked Walsh how close he came to actually joining the group on the road: [“They were real serious. It almost happened. I remember a phone call where Pete (Townshend), and (John) Entwistle, and Roger (Daltrey) were on that end — and probably Bill Curbishley, their manager. And they asked me if I would seriously do it. They wanted to make sure that I had the right perspective.”] SOUNDCUE (:24 OC: . . . the right perspective)

Ultimately though, to the great disappointment of their fans, the Who went with the stylized and generally unknown Steve “Boltz” Bolton to supply lead guitar on the U.S. and UK dates. Walsh recalled how the Who gig slipped away: [“It would be a job for a specialist to back up Pete. You’d have to be there where he needed ya and stay, stay the hell outta his way at the same time. And I said, ‘Yeah, if you guys decide to go that way — I’m in. I’m honored and I can do it. I know you guys as friends and I know your music backwards and forwards and I think I’m your guy.’ They had one more go around in the decision making process. Yeah, so it almost happened. I’ll always wonder where that would’ve gone.”] SOUNDCUE (:33 OC: . . . that would’ve gone)

TL: DR

  • Joe Walsh wishes he had done more to save the Who‘s John Entwistle from his 2002 drug-induced heart attack.
  • In the new Entwistle biography, The Ox, Walsh, who had seen him earlier that year revealed: “I wasn’t sure whether I should, or even could, confront him. Ultimately, I was never able to sit down with John and say to him, ‘Hey, man, you’re f***ing up.’ Back in those days, I was still trying to figure out my own sobriety. Now, all these years later, I feel quite comfortable in telling someone I care about, ‘Listen up, because I know what I’m talking about.'”

FAST FACTS

  • On June 27th, 2002, John Entwistle died at age 57 in Las Vegas from a drug-induced heart attack on the eve of the Who’s North American tour.
  • After several days of soul searching — and taking into account the large crew that would be left jobless by the cancellation of the tour, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey opted to go ahead with the tour and recruited bassist Pino Palladino to fill in for Entwistle.