The show must go on, Pete Townshend proclaimed.
"We are going on. First show, Hollywood Bowl. Pray for us, John, wherever you are," Townshend said in a posting on his Web site today, a day after The Who's bassist, John Entwistle, was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room.
The band had planned to kick off a 24-venue tour tonight at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. That show has been canceled.
Pino Palladino, a veteran British studio bassist who has performed and recorded with Townshend, will fill in for Entwistle, according to the Who's official Web site.
The show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles is scheduled for Monday.
Fans Mourn at the Hard Rock
Las Vegas Metro Police said that they responded to a call from the Hard Rock at about noon Thursday. Entwistle, 57, had been found dead in his room of a suspected heart attack. Police said there was no indication drugs were involved and it appeared the bassist died of natural causes.
An autopsy was conducted today, but the Clark County coroner's office said it was awaiting the results of toxicology tests before it signed off on the cause of death.
As news of Entwistle's death emerged Thursday afternoon, stunned fans from across the country began gathering on the Hard Rock casino floor, outside the entrance to the resort's concert venue, The Joint. Soon, many appeared with flowers, which they left next to larger arrangements bought by the casino, and beneath a poster advertising today's show.
Michael Rudman traveled from San Francisco to see the show. "This was the opening of the tour, the smallest venue [The Who were going to play]. I had a killer seat. I was jazzed," he said.
"I just checked into the hotel an hour ago a friend of mine called me from San Francisco saying, 'I got bad news.' "
Rick Cermera, who came from New York, was also caught off guard.
"I didn't believe it. He looked in great health," he said. "I mean, seeing him play for over 25 years with Keith Moon and Pete Townshend, smashing their guitars and the drums. I mean, you would never think a tragedy like this would happen."
The Quiet Man Everyone Knew
Entwistle was a founding member of the band 38 years ago. While guitarist Townshend wrote most of the songs, and Roger Daltrey served as lead singer for most of the band's best-known songs — such as "My Generation," "Baba O'Riley," and "Pinball Wizard" — Entwistle wrote and sang a smattering of songs while providing a thundering bass and backing vocals.
Entwistle was the quiet, nearly emotionless member of the raucous group. His death leaves Townshend and Daltrey as the only remaining original band members. Drummer Keith Moon died of a drug overdose in 1978.
The Who retired in 1982, but subsequently reunited periodically and toured. They gave a rousing performance at last year's "Concert for New York," which raised money for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
As they were setting out on tour, Daltrey, 58, chafed at the suggestion the band had become a nostalgia act.
"I know some critics say, 'Oh it's all nostalgia.' But … it's not nostalgia. It's our music," Daltrey told Reuters in a recent interview.
"If you could dig up Mozart today … and make him perform a concert, would that be nostalgia? Of course it wouldn't," he said. "Music transcends all that other crap and then the only question that should be answered is whether we can still do it, and do it well. And the answer to that is 'Yes!' "
The band last America toured two years ago, grossing more than $21 million in advance ticket sales.
With no new studio album in 20 years, The Who had planned to record in October. MCA Records just filled the gap with The Ultimate Collection, a two-CD hits package that debuted at No. 31 on the U.S. pop charts.
‘He Was a Gentleman, A Real Quiet Cat’
As part of the British Invasion of the 1960s, The Who rank with the Beatles and Rolling Stones as one of the most influential bands of the 1960s, starting with the early hit "My Generation."
The British-born Entwistle teamed up with Daltrey in 1960 while working as a tax clerk. Four years later, The Who was born.
With legendary performances at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and subsequently at Woodstock, The Who cemented their legend. They may have been the first act to regularly destroy their instruments as part of the show — a practice many musical bad boys, including members of Nirvana, have emulated. The band broke new creative ground with the first rock opera, Tommy.
At the House of Blues in West Hollywood, another giant of 1960s rock — Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek — learned of the news Thursday while announcing that the three surviving members of the group would reunite for the first time since 1971 to headline the "Harley-Davidson Open Road Tour."
"Could we have a moment of silence for one of the great, great rock 'n' roll bass players of all time, a real genius," Manzarek said. "That guy was was amazing … wasn't he? Dressed like a spider, he came on stage. He was just incredible."
Manzarek recalled when the Doors and The Who played together at the Isle of Wright Festival in 1969. "We played, then The Who came out and did the public debut of Tommy. Entwistle was just the strongest bass player I've ever seen … a gentleman and a really quiet cat."
Over the years, the band sold 18 million albums, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. They have had 14 gold albums, 10 platinum and five multiplatinum. ABC Radio's Al Mancini in Las Vegas contributed to this report.