The Who returns to Las Vegas next month, 15 years after their bassist John Entwistle became one of the highest-profile celebrity deaths in the city’s history.
Joe Louis. Carole Lombard. Sonny Liston. Tupac Shakur. Dan Wheldon. Danny Gans. To name a few.
Scandal immediately surrounded Entwistle’s death on June 27, 2002, in suite 658 at the Hard Rock Hotel. He was 57.
Within hours, I received a tip that he was with a stripper. I confirmed it and reported it in my Vegas Confidential column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
That report triggered a frenzied response among British tabloids. Overnight, a small army of reporters and paparazzi descended on local strip clubs, offering huge checks for information on the identity and whereabouts of Entwistle’s companion.
Meantime, then-Clark County coroner Ron Flud determined the death was caused by a cocaine-induced heart attack.
About a week after Entwistle’s death, I received a phone call from an unhappy caller who identified himself as a high-ranking editor with London’s News of the World, the world’s biggest-selling newspaper.
He quickly got to the point with some choice language. He accused me of fabricating the stripper angle and complained that his paper had spent a bundle and he was blaming me for the wild goose chase.
I informed him that he was dead wrong.
Months later, Alycen Rowse, a stripper at Deja Vu and a prominent groupie from Utah, went public, selling her story to a competing London paper.
Rowse, then 32, said she found Entwistle cold and unresponsive about 10 a.m. She told authorities she tried to resuscitate him. When that failed, she called paramedics.
Entwistle, one of the music world’s most acclaimed bassists, died one day before the Hall of Fame British band was to start its 2002 U.S. tour.
The Who begins a six-show mini-residency July 29 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The other dates are: August 1, 4, 7, 9, and 11.
The rest of Entwistle’s story includes a sordid twist that the rocker might have found poetic.
Still married at the time of his death, Entwistle also had a long-term girlfriend, American Lisa Pritchett-Johnson.
She made headlines for running off with a married vicar of Entwistle’s church a year after the funeral. The Rev. Colin Wilson had officiated at the funeral. Wilson resigned and apologized to his parishioners for “going off the rails.”
She never recovered from Entwistle’s death and died of an overdose about three years later at her home near Memphis. He had left her millions in his will.
As for Rowse, she returned to Utah and wrote a book title “We’ve Got Tonight: The Life and Time of Notorious Groupie, Alycen Rowse.”
In a 2010 interview, she was quoted as saying she had no regrets about being with Entwistle.
“I don’t want this to sound egotistical,” she said, "but he couldn’t have gone (died) with a better woman, because I know how to keep the privacy.
“I didn’t even think about touching anything in the room,” she said, “except for the body and doing mouth-to-mouth.”
On this day…
June 26, 1955: On a train trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Lauren Bacall dubs the Hollywood clique led by Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra the “rat pack.” The term sticks to Sinatra and buddies Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop in their Vegas heyday five years later.
Chase McNary, who competed on the 12 season of “The Bachelorette,” with friends on Friday at Topgolf (MGM Grand)…
Actress Mindy Kaling, celebrating her 38th birthday and the season end of “The Mindy Project” with friends at Tao restaurant (Venetian) on Friday night. Later, Kaling posted on Instagram, “the best way to behave is to misbehave.”…
At Tao nightclub on Saturday: NFL players Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills) and his brother, Jaylen Watkins (Philadelphia Eagles) and Arizona Cardinals teammates Jared Campbell and Deone Bucannon, with friends.
The punch line
“Today, in Las Vegas, the forecast was a record 117. Also the average age of the people at the nickel slots. And today, temperatures are expected to reach 127 degrees in Death Valley. But it’s a dry death.” – Stephen Colbert.