Not many would guess it, but the first member of The Who to issue a solo album wasn’t Pete Townshend. It wasn’t even Roger Daltrey. It was no other than John Entwistle, the stolid Ox, the man who anchored the sound of the band onstage to a degree that surpassed anything ever did in the history or music before (or since, for that matter).
The fact that Entwistle was the first band member to put a solo record out is not that surprising if you begin digging into the story of the band. He was “discovered” as a songwriter at the time of the “A Quick One” sessions, when manager Kit Lambert signed everybody to Essex music to get a meaty advance. The terms of the contract necessitated every member of the band write two songs for the forthcoming album, and John came up with the enduring “Boris The Spider” and the hysterical “Whisky Man”. From that point onwards, he would continue honing his skills and providing one or two tracks for each subsequent Who album.
Yet, his songs could never dominate a Who record. His approach differed drastically from Townshend’s. Pete was more of a traditionalist, while John was an absurdist. Had he ever taken the major writing credit for a Who album, the shift in style would have been too abrupt. Only die-hards would have gotten it.
That is why his songs were mostly relegated to B-sides. And album filler. Only one Entwistle song was ever released as a Who A-side, and that was because the album was masterminded by John. The song “Postcard” was the lead single off “Odds & Sods”, The Who’s “official bootleg”. John was asked to compile it while the other members of the band were occupied by film and stage projects.
So, it could be said that his frustration at having his own material relegated time after time gave birth to his solo career. But Keith Moon once remarked something that had more than an inkling of truth: John did not want The Who to record many of his songs. He was afraid they would “ruin” them to some extent. Continue reading