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Who bassist John Entwistle dies at 57

LAS VEGAS, June 27 (UPI) -- John Entwistle, bassist for the rock group The Who, died on Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 57.

A spokesman for the Clark County Coroner's office said the cause of death was under investigation. A spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said police were notified just after 12 p.m. (MDT) by a clerk at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino that Entwistle had been found dead in his hotel room.

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"Officers responded," said Officer Tirso Dominguez. "The country coroner's office responded. The body was confirmed to be that of John Entwistle."

Dominguez said the police would release no further information until Friday morning.

Steve Luongo, 49, Entwistle's business partner and the drummer in The John Entwistle Band, told United Press International the musician had a heart condition, but otherwise had appeared to be in good health.

"This is totally unexpected," said Luongo in a telephone interview from New York.

Entwistle's death came on the eve of the kickoff of a U.S. tour by The Who, with the first date scheduled for Friday night at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. That show has been canceled, but plans for the rest of the tour were not immediately clear

"You don't rehearse for this," Luongo said. "I suspect that The Who's office is going to have their hands full dealing with this."

Luongo said the Entwistle Band had no tour plans, but he and Entwistle had some record and DVD deals pending.

"We're all just so devastated right now," he said. "I have no idea what's going to go on."

John Alec Entwistle -- whose nickname was The Ox -- was born on Oct. 9, 1944 in Chiswick, England.

As a child, he studied the trumpet, flugelhorn and piano as well as the bass guitar. Around 1959, he joined guitarist Pete Townshend and drummer Phil Rhodes to form a band called The Confederates -- which went on to become The Who, with singer Roger Daltry and drummer Keith Moon.

Moon died at 32 of a drug overdose in 1978.

Entwistle was a respected visual artist. He did the album cover for The Who album "Who By Numbers" and some of his solo albums.

He was scheduled to attend the opening of an exhibit of his work Thursday evening at Grammy's Art of Music Gallery in Las Vegas. Gallery director Darcy Goodwin, 36, told UPI he was not sure how the exhibit would be affect by Entwistle's death.

"I think what we're going to do," said Goodwin, "we're going to turn it into a memorial exhibition. I don't think there will be much art collecting tonight. I don't think that's what his management want to do. It's up to them, whatever they want to do."

Goodwin said Entwistle was an amazingly detailed artist that a lot of people might characterize as a caricaturist."

"He would go through pages and pages and tear them up," said Goodwin, "to the point where he'd only completed four pieces in the past couple of years."

Entwistle specialized in depicting rock musicians -- including Pete Townsend, Roger Daltrey, Jimi Hendrix, Ron Wood and Eric Clapton. He also produced numerous self portraits.

The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

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