4 Twisted and Funny Songs Written and Sung by Late Who Bassist John Entwistle

The Who’s John Entwistle, widely considered among the greatest rock bassists, died on this day (June 27) in 2002. Entwistle left the world in true rock-star fashion, dying of a cocaine-induced heart attack after spending the evening partying with a groupie/exotic dancer in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Las Vegas.

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Entwistle, who’d been diagnosed with heart disease and high cholesterol, died on the eve of the launch of The Who’s 2002 U.S. tour. He was 57.

[RELATED: Second Volume of Late Who Bassist John Entwistle’s Rarities Oxhumed Compilation Series Due Out Soon]

Beyond his skills as a powerful and dexterous bass player, Entwistle also served as The Who’s secondary songwriter. John’s songs, for The Who and his solo career, often showcased his knack for telling hilarious and macabre stories.

In honor of the anniversary of his passing, here are four funny and twisted songs written and sung by Entwistle.

“Boris the Spider” – The Who (1966)

“Boris the Spider” supposedly was the first song Entwistle ever wrote, and it became one of the most famous tunes he penned for The Who. The song was featured on the band’s 1966 sophomore U.K. album A Quick One, which was retitled Happy Jack for its U.S. release.

In the song, Entwistle sings about an encounter with an eight-legged critter he discovers crawling up the wall. Boris scares him, and he winds up smushing the spider with a book. The chorus features Entwistle singing “Boris the spider” in a guttural voice, followed by the humorous falsetto refrain “creepy, crawly, creepy, crawly, creepy creepy, crawly crawly.”

“Boris the Spider” became a longtime staple for The Who to perform live. The songs popularity inspired Entwistle to wear a spider-shaped pendant, and have a custom bass made with a spider design.

“Heinz Baked Beans” – The Who (1967)

“Heinz Baked Beans” was one of the fake commercials written for The Who’s 1967 concept album The Who Sell Out. The album was devised to sound like a radio station, with songs connected by commercials and public service announcements.

As its name suggests, “Heinz Baked Beans” is a faux ad for the popular side dish. The track sounds like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

It features a catchy repeated melody played on a horn by Entwistle. When the melody stops, Entwistle, Pete Townshend, and Keith Moon, apparently portraying different members of a family, take turns asking the mother of the house, “What’s for tea?” The answer, of course, is “Heinz Baked Beans!”

“My Wife” – The Who (1971)

“My Wife” was another one of Entwistle’s most famous Who songs, and another tune that the band frequently played live. The song was featured on The Who’s smash 1971 album Who’s Next.

The song tells the tale of a guy who’s running for his life from a vengeful wife, who thinks he’s been unfaithful to her because he hadn’t been home for a few days. As we learn in the tune, he’d gotten stinking drunk one Friday night and got picked up by the police and thrown in jail over the weekend.

The guy’s spouse clearly isn’t someone to be trifled with. As Entwistle sings, “Gonna buy a tank and an airplane / When she catches up with me, won’t be no time to explain / She thinks I’ve been with another woman, and that’s enough to send her half-insane.”

“Roller Skate Kate” – John Entwistle (1973)

“Roller Skate Kate” is a song from Entwistle’s third solo album, Rigor Mortis Sets In. The doo-wop-inspired tune partially lifts the melody from Ritchie Havens’ 1958 ballad “Donna.” The tune also is a tongue-in-cheek sendup of early-1960s teenage tragedy songs like “Last Kiss” and “Leader of the Pack.”

Entwistle’s song tells the sad story of a guy who used to go roller skating with his girlfriend, Kate, until the tragic day that she was killed by a truck while they were skating in the fast lane of a highway.

“She was skating way too fast / She was far too daring,” Entwistle sings. “When she crashed into that truck / In a shower of ball bearings.”

In the chorus, John melodramatically croons, “Now she’s gone, she’s gone, to that great skating rink in the sky.”

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