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The Who Decides to Return to Stage

The two surviving members of The Who decided Friday to resume their scheduled three-month U.S. tour despite the sudden death of bassist John Entwistle, their bandmate of nearly four decades.

“The band decided to recommence the tour beginning at the Hollywood Bowl (a Monday night show),” according to a message posted on guitarist Pete Townshend’s Web site.

The first show will serve as “a tribute to John Entwistle,” the band said in a separate statement.

Pino Palladino, a British session player who has worked on Townshend’s solo projects, will fill in for Entwhistle, the Web site said. The band intends to complete the full tour, and will reschedule two dates postponed after the death.

The band’s name will be the same, but it won’t be the same Who.

Whenever the band took the stage, Roger Daltrey provided the sound and Townshend the fury. Off to the side, frozen except for the fingers flying across his fretboard, stood “The Ox” – Entwistle.

Entwistle, a player of restraint in a band of excess, died Thursday of an apparent heart attack at a Las Vegas hotel. An autopsy was scheduled in Las Vegas to determine the exact cause of death, with the results of blood and lab tests expected to take two to 12 weeks, said Clark County Coroner Ron Flud.

But Las Vegas authorities said there was no sign of trauma, no sign of violence and no drug paraphernalia in Entwistle’s hotel room. There was no word on funeral arrangements, and Entwistle’s family issued a call for privacy.

Entwistle, who was on medication for a heart condition, was 57. Thirty-eight of those years were spent with The Who, which he co-founded as a London teen.

Entwistle was “probably the most influential bassist in rock music,” said rock critic Bruce Eder of the All Music Guide. Total Guitar magazine named him as bassist of the millennium in 2000, selecting Entwistle over contemporaries Paul McCartney of the Beatles, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.

“The quietest man in private but the loudest onstage,” Wyman said of his late friend. “He was unique and irreplaceable.”

Entwistle’s death came one day before the band was scheduled to open its tour in Las Vegas. That show was postponed, along with a second show set for Saturday night in Irvine, Calif.

Fans in Las Vegas turned out at The Joint, the 1,800-seat theater where The Who had been scheduled to perform. The Who movie “Quadrophenia” was playing instead.

“I really, really feel like this is a loss in my family,” said George Santos, 36, who was among the fans inside The Joint.

Karen Dunphy of suburban New York has tickets to see The Who later this summer, but she’s not as excited about seeing the band without its longtime bassist.

“I have tickets, so I would go,” she said. “But it’s kind of different. He’s not as key as Pete Townshend, but still…”

The only other word from surviving bandmates Townshend and Daltrey was a two-sentence statement: “The Ox has left the building – we’ve lost another great friend. Thanks for your support and love.”

The Who regrouped once before, after the 1978 death of drummer Keith Moon, adding Kenney Jones before calling it quits four years later. But all three surviving members later expressed regrets about the decision to continue, saying the band had died along with Moon.

Those feelings didn’t prevent a 1989 reunion tour and several subsequent big-money regroupings, although those shows focused on old Who material. The band’s last collection of new material was “It’s Hard” in 1982.

Entwistle had his own solo projects, and began a career as an artist; his works were set to travel to several cities on The Who’s concert itinerary.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

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