Something called A WALK DOWN ABBEY ROAD will play the Sun Theatre Saturday and Sunday nights, and I'm hoping it doesn't turn out to be as cheesy as it sounds. (What's next? Boot Camp With Sgt. Pepper? Never Let It Be?) This is sort of a Supergroup Lite consisting of Who bassist John Entwistle, Todd Rundgren (some people swear this prog. rocker's a genius, but I'm not one of 'em), Alan Parsons (among the artists who helped me learn to loathe the synthesizer) and Ann Wilson of Heart (the fat one, not the hot one). My understanding is that they'll be playing mostly songs off the Beatles' Abbey Road album. Why? I dunno, and Entwistle doesn't seem to know either. The pecking order goes something like this: Entwistle, of course, is rock & roll royalty. Rundgren? If you bought his records, you went to the Wherehouse instead of Tower to do it. Alan Parsons' records were always purchased at Montgomery-Ward. For Heart albums, you went to Kmart. Still, I wasn't going to dismiss a fine excuse to have a chat with Entwistle, no matter how suspicious I am of this show's motives and potential, so I'm glad it's coming to town.
OC Weekly: Do you know the people you're playing with on this Abbey Road thing, or was this something that just kind of came together?
JOHN ENTWISTLE: Oh, now I'm confused. . . . I've met Todd before. I don't think I've met Ann Wilson. Alan I think I've met before. I don't know any of them that well. I'm sure I will after the next few weeks.
Are these people whose work you've admired?
Ummm . . . yeah, yeah. It's kind of different from what I'm used to, but I'm getting my fingers around it.
Is doing Beatles material something that you're enthusiastic about?
Well, the Who started as a pop band doing Beatles songs because that's what people wanted to hear, that's all. We started out playing "Twist & Shout" and "I Saw Her Standing There" and probably the whole of the first and second albums. But we're not playing any of that stuff.
Some people might say that it's very humble for you to be doing this tour. Many would argue that the Who were as important as the Beatles and the people you're playing with aren't nearly as famous as yourself, that they're sort of second-stringers.
Ummm . . . no, I always play with people who aren't as famous as me. They're famous enough to play with me. Anyone's famous enough to play with me. I don't feel very humble at all [laughs].
Are the guys in the Who getting along better these days?
Ummm . . . yeah, we get on very well.
The benefits of being in the Who are obvious, but do you ever feel trapped by it as a musician, like you'll never be able to get away from it?
Always, and I think the rest of the Who feel that way as well, especially Pete. Pete has his own sort of taste in music that's slightly different. He gets a chance to perform his own stuff onstage anyway, which is what I do with my band.
Would you say that Pete and Roger are nice guys?
Ummmm . . . yeah, yeah. Several nice guys [laughs].
Do you have a favorite Who album?
Uhhhhh . . . uhhhhh . . . I probably like the songs on Who's Next, but I don't particularly like the mixes. I guess that was our strongest period, when we went through that sort of large-venue, snob-rock period.
What's the secret to staying together this long without strangling one another?
I think the breaks we had—where we weren't playing together—I think they helped out a lot. It helped me in particular. After a break and working with different musicians, when I come back to the Who, I have something different to offer. So the secret to staying together is not to play together, I guess.
You've won all these crazy awards. The Who won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, andBritish Guitar magazine voted you Bass Player of the Millennium. Is that an honor, or do you get a sense of being given a gold watch?
Yeah, the millennium. That would be a long time. Of all the bass players that's ever been, I got voted No. 1. When people come up and go, "Hey—you're a legend," I always thought legends were Ulysses and King Arthur and people like that. I'm a minor legend, I guess. It makes you feel extremely old and just about to die. It's those Fuck Off and Die Awards; they always get you.
It's almost like OC Weekly's Roots Canal CD come to life! THE FIRST ANNUAL BLUE CAFE BLUES FESTIVAL serves as sort of a catalog of local blooze talent. Headlining are THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS, whose guitarist is none other than Anaheim's KID RAMOS. Ramos' jump-crazed solo albums actually interest me more than the T-Birds, but it's always a pleasure to watch Mr. Biceps attack the gee-tar in any setting; he's one skillful bastid, he is. Also on the bill are second-coming-of-Johnny-Winter ERIC SARDINAS; amusingly sun-beaten, honky-tonk hero CHRIS GAFFNEY (who plays country rather than blues, but I love a blues festival with variety); bitchen-ass, harp-tooting songster FREDDIE BROOKS; plus MAMA'S BOYS and 2,000 LBS. OF BLUES. Nothing more you could ask for from an OC-centric blues bill, except for James Harman. Maybe next time. Bonus: tickets are a very poverty-stricken-blues-fan-friendly 20 bones—sucha deal!
A Walk Down Abbey Road plays at the Sun Theatre, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700. Sat.-Sun., 8 p.m. $72; the First Annual Blue Cafe Blues Festival at the Green on the Hill, 27th & Walnut, Signal Hill, (562) 983-7111. Sun., noon. $20.
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