Learn more about The Who
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| Background information
<tr><td>Origin</td><td colspan="2">Image:Flag of England (bordered).svg London, England</td></tr><tr><td>Genre(s)</td><td colspan="2">Rock
The Who are an English rock band who first came to prominence in the 1960s and grew in stature to be considered one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time   . Except for periods of retirement from 1983 to 1988 and from 1990 to 1995, the band members have continued to perform as a live act. Their most recent studio album was released in 2006.
Noted for the dynamism of their performances and for their thoughtful and art-influenced music, the members of The Who are also acknowledged as rock pioneers, popularising, along with contemporaries The Kinks, the power chord and the rock opera (most notably Tommy). Their earlier "mod" albums, which boasted short, aggressive pop songs, Pete Townshend's distinctive power chords, Keith Moon's explosive drumming, John Entwistle's nimble bass style, Roger Daltrey's powerful vocals, and constant themes of youthful rebellion and romantic confusion, were formative influences on hard rock and power pop, while their loud and violent concerts helped pave the way for punk rock and heavy metal. In their early days they were notorious for auto-destructive art displays, destroying their instruments at the end of shows (an activity favoured both by infamous wildman Moon and by Townshend, whose guitar-smashing would become a rock cliché).
The Who are on a world tour as of June 2006 which will last into 2007.
From mod rockers to rock operas to hard rock, The Who reigned triumphant as prime contenders, in the minds of many, for the title of World's Greatest Rock Band. - The Who's display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In their earliest days the band was known as The Detours and played mostly rhythm and blues. They changed their name to The Who in 1964 and, with the arrival of Keith Moon that year, the classic line-up was complete. For the next 14 years The Who would be Roger Daltrey on lead vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, John Entwistle on bass guitar, and Keith Moon on drums. For a short period during 1964, under the management of Peter Meaden, they changed their name to The High Numbers during which time they released an unsuccessful single designed to appeal to their mostly mod fans. When "Zoot Suit/I'm The Face" failed to chart, they fired Meaden and quickly reverted to The Who. The rest, as they say, is history. They became one of the most popular bands among the British Mods, a social movement of the early 1960s which rejected the "greaser" music favoured by the Rockers.
The band soon crystallised around Townshend as the primary songwriter (though Entwistle would also make the occasional notable contribution). Townshend was at the centre of the band's tensions, as he strove to write challenging and thoughtful music, while Daltrey preferred energetic and macho material (Daltrey would occasionally refuse to sing a Townshend composition and Townshend would thus sing it himself), while Moon was a fan of American surf music.
The Who's first hit was the 1965 Kinks-like single "I Can't Explain", followed by "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", which was the only song credited as being composed in a joint effort by Townshend and Daltrey, though Townshend implied Daltrey assisted some in songwriting without credit in the liner notes to Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy. They vaulted to fame with their debut album My Generation ("The Who Sings My Generation" in the US) that same year; the album included such mod anthems as "The Kids are Alright" and the title track "My Generation", which contained the famous line "Hope I die before I get old". Another early favourite, showing Townshend's way with words, was the 1966 single "Substitute", which included the line, "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth". Subsequent hits – the 1966 hit single "I'm a Boy", about a boy made up like a little girl, "Happy Jack" about a mentally disturbed young man and the 1967 "Pictures Of Lily", a tribute to masturbation – all show Townshend's growing use of clever and novel stories of sexual and mental confusion which eventually led to his masterpiece Tommy. More hits followed, including "I Can See For Miles" and "Magic Bus".
Although they had great success as a singles band, The Who, or more properly their leader Townshend, had more ambitious goals and over the years their music became more complex and their lyrics more provocative and involved. Townshend also wanted to treat The Who's albums as unified works, rather than collections of unconnected songs. The first sign of this ambition came in their album A Quick One (1966), which included the storytelling medley "A Quick One While He's Away", which they later referred to as a "mini opera". A Quick One was followed by The Who Sell Out (1967), a concept album which played like an offshore radio station, complete with humourous jingles and commercials. The Who Sell Out also included another mini rock opera, this one called "Rael", as well as The Who's biggest USA single, "I Can See For Miles". The Who famously destroyed their equipment onstage at the Monterey Pop Festival that year and subsequently repeated the routine on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour with literally explosive results, which included Pete Townshend destroying his amp in a fireball. These early attention seeking efforts resulted in Pete Townshend being the subject of the first Rolling Stone interview. Townshend revealed in that interview that he was working on a full-length rock opera. This was Tommy (1969), the first commercially successful rock opera by any artist.
Around this time the spiritual teachings of Meher Baba began to influence Townshend's songwriting, and he is credited as "Avatar" on the Tommy album. In addition to its commercial success, Tommy also became a critical smash, with Life Magazine saying, "...for sheer power, invention and brilliance of performance, Tommy outstrips anything which has ever come out of a recording studio,"  and Melody Maker declaring, "Surely The Who are now the band against which all others are to be judged."
The Who performed much of Tommy at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival later that year. That performance, and the ensuing film, catapulted The Who to superstar status in the USA.
In 1970 The Who released Live at Leeds, which has often been described as the best live rock album of all time. Also in 1970, The Who began work on a studio album which was never released. At the Isle of Wight Festival in August, Daltrey introduced "I Don't Even Know Myself" as "off the new album, which we're sort of half-way through". But within a few weeks of that concert Townshend wrote "Pure and Easy", a song which he later described as the "central pivot" of what became an ambitious concept album / performance art project called Lifehouse, distracting him and the band from work on the album in progress.
Lifehouse was never completed in its intended form (although it was reconstructed as a radio play for the BBC in 2000, and most of the material was released on a 6-CD album from Pete Townshend's website shortly after). Meanwhile, in March of 1971, the band began recording the available Lifehouse material with Kit Lambert in New York, and then restarted the sessions with Glyn Johns in April. Selections of the material, along with one unrelated song by John Entwistle, were released as a traditional studio album called Who's Next, which would become their most successful album among both critics and fans, but which effectively terminated the Lifehouse project. Other Lifehouse songs were released as non-album track singles and on various albums over the years, such as Odds and Sods and Townshend's solo album Who Came First. Who's Next became one of the first successful rock albums to heavily feature the synthesizer, reaching #4 in the USA pop charts and hitting #1 in the UK. A single from the album, "Won't Get Fooled Again", became the first hit single to be driven by synthesizer.
Who's Next was followed by a work which is more a monologue piece than rock opera (there are only a small number of lines sung by other characters), called Quadrophenia (1973), with a story line about an adolescent named Jimmy, his struggle for identity and with mental illness, against a backdrop of the clashes between Mods and Rockers in the early 1960s in the UK, particularly the riots between the two factions at Brighton.
The band's later albums contained songs of more personal content for Townshend, and he eventually transferred this personal style to his solo albums, as seen on the album Empty Glass. 1975's The Who by Numbers had several introspective songs in this vein, lightened by the crowd-pleasing "Squeeze Box," another hit single. Nevertheless, one rock critic considered By Numbers to have been Townshend's "suicide note." A movie version of Tommy was released in theatres that year. It was directed by Ken Russell, starred Roger Daltrey in the title role and earned Pete Townshend an academy award nomination for Best Original Score. In 1976 The Who played a concert at Charlton Athletic Football Ground which was listed for over a decade in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest concert ever.
In 1978, the band released Who Are You, a move away from epic rock opera and towards a more radio-friendly sound, though it did contain one song from a never-completed rock opera by John Entwistle. The release of the album was overshadowed by the death of Keith Moon in his sleep after a prescription overdose, only a few hours after a party held by Paul McCartney. Kenney Jones, of The Small Faces and The Faces, joined the band as his successor. In 1979, The Who returned to the stage with triumphant, well-received concerts at the Rainbow Theatre in London, at the Cannes Film Festival in France, and Madison Square Garden in New York City. By the late fall, the band had agreed to undertake a small tour of the United States. Sadly, this tour was marred by tragedy: on December 3, 1979 in Cincinnati, Ohio, a crush for seats at Riverfront Coliseum prior to the start of The Who's concert resulted in the deaths of eleven fans. The band was not told of the deaths until after the show because civic authorities feared more crowd control problems if the concert were cancelled. The band members were reportedly devastated by these events. Also in 1979, The Who released a documentary film called The Kids Are Alright and a film version of Quadrophenia, the latter becoming a huge box office hit in the UK and the former becoming something of a holy grail for Who fans and a summation of the band's Keith Moon era. In December, The Who became only the third band, after the Beatles and the Band, to ever be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. The article, written by Jay Cocks, was overwhelmingly positive with respect to The Who, their members, and their place in rock music.
The band released two more studio albums with Jones as their drummer, Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard (1982). With the loss of Moon a blow to the group's notoriously active rhythm section, the two Kenney Jones releases carved out a more pop-oriented sound. While both albums sold fairly well, and even with It's Hard receiving a five-star review in Rolling Stone, many fans were not receptive to the band's new sound. Shortly after the release of It's Hard, The Who embarked on their farewell tour after Pete Townshend declared his alcoholism, cleaned himself up, got sober, and stated that he wanted to do one more substantial tour with the Who before turning it into a studio-only band. (Even to this day, there is a public perception that The Who have billed a number of their post-1982 tours as farewell events, whereas their 1982 trek was the only one referred to as such.) Demand for tickets was voracious. It was the highest grossing tour of the year, with sellout crowds in numerous stadiums and arenas throughout North America.
After completing this tour of North America in December, 1982, Townshend spent parts of 1983 trying to write material for the next studio Who album which was still owed to Warner Brothers Records on the contract they signed in 1980. By the end of 1983, however, Townshend had declared himself unable to generate material which he felt was appropriate for the Who and he issued a public statement in December, 1983, wherein he announced his decision to leave the Who. With Townshend formally ending the Who as an ongoing entity producing new music, Townshend focused on solo projects such as White City: A Novel, The Iron Man (which did feature appearances from Daltrey and Entwistle and two songs on the album credited to "the Who") and Psychoderelict, a forerunner to the eventual release of the radio work Lifehouse. On July 13th, 1985, the members of The Who, including Kenny Jones, reformed for the one-off performance at Bob Geldof's Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium. The band performed "My Generation", "Pinball Wizard", "Love Reign O'er Me", and an obviously unrehearsed "Won't Get Fooled Again." Although the BBC blew a fuse at the beginning of "My Generation", the band kept playing, so most of "My Generation" was missed by the rest of the world. In 1988 the band was honoured with the British Phonographic Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award. The Who played a short set at the award ceremony. It is the last time Kenney Jones has worked with the Who to date. Their best-known reunion tour occurred in 1989 and emphasised Tommy. Demand for tickets was phenomenal, inspiring Newsweek to say, "The Who tour is special because, after the Beatles and the Stones, they're IT." There were massive sellouts in stadiums throughout North America, including a four-night stand at Giants Stadium. In all, over two million tickets were sold.
In 1990, their first year of eligibility, The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their display at the Rock Hall describes The Who as prime contenders for the title of "World's Greatest Rock Band." Only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones receive a similar accolade at the Rock Hall. In 1991 The Who recorded a cover version of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" for a tribute album. This was the last time that they released any studio work with John Entwistle. Pete Townshend toured in 1993 to promote his Psychoderelict album. On one night of the tour John Entwistle guested for several songs at the end of the show. In 1994 there were rumours of an upcoming 30th anniversary tour. These never happened but Roger Daltrey turned 50 and celebrated with two concerts at Carnegie Hall. These performances included guest spots by both John Entwistle and Pete Townshend. Although the Who were there, they did not perform together at those shows. Roger Daltrey toured later that year with an orchestra and special guest John Entwistle. The band consisted of John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, Zak Starkey on drums and Simon Townshend filling in for his absent brother. Pete Townshend had given Daltrey his consent to call this band the Who but this did not happen. Overall, the Daltrey Sings Townshend tour was not a major commercial success.
In 1996 Pete Townshend was asked to join the lineup for a major rock concert at Hyde Park. He intended to perform Quadrophenia as a solo acoustic piece using parts of the film on the screens. He would change his mind upon finding out that the audience was to be around 150,000. After contacting Entwistle and Daltrey it was agreed that a one-off performance of Quadrophenia would happen. The band was augmented by Zak Starkey on drums (although he was initially reluctant), Rabbit on keyboards and Simon Townshend on guitar. Also, Jon Carin was added as an additional keyboard player, a horn section was added alongside backing vocalists and several special guests would join to play characters from the album. These included David Gilmour, Ade Edmonson, Newsreader Trevor McDonald and Gary Glitter (who would accidentally hit Roger Daltrey in the face with a mic stand breaking his eye socket the day before the show). The whole performance was narrated by Phil Daniels who played Jimmy the Mod in the film. Despite a few technical difficulties the show was a huge success and many considered this to be the best act of the day above headliner Eric Clapton. The success of this show led to a sold out six night residency in New York at Madison Square Garden. These shows were not billed as The Who.
The success of the Quadrophenia shows led to a major US and European tour. The show was reworked for the tour and included several Who standards as the encore. The show was originally billed under the band members names but was eventually billed as The Who to aid ticket sales.
After the success of Quadrophenia The Who disbanded once again. Pete Townshend went on to perform many acoustic shows, John Entwistle mounted several shows with his own band The John Entwistle Band and Roger Daltrey toured with the British Rock Symphony performing The Who and other classic rock songs with an orchestra.
In late 1999 The Who reformed as a five-piece band with Rabbit and Zak Starkey on keyboards and drums respectively and performed several charity shows in small venues. Many of the songs at the shows were taken from Who's Next and included songs not performed for 30 years or more.
The success of the 1999 shows led to a US tour in the Summer of 2000 and a UK tour in November that year. The tour ended with a charity show at the Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer trust with special guests which was released later on DVD. With the numerous rave reviews of the shows in the press all three members of the Who began to discuss the possibility of a new album.     
The band's appearance at The Concert for New York City in October, 2001, was the most fervently cheered of any act by the audience of New York police officers and firefighters. The Who were also honoured with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award that year.
Just before the outset of a tour in the summer of 2002, John Entwistle was found dead in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. A coroner's investigation revealed that while not technically an overdose, a modest amount of cocaine in his system was a contributing factor in a fatal heart attack, the result of years of heart trouble caused or aggravated by regular cocaine use, hypertension, and decades of smoking. After a brief delay, the tour commenced with bassist Pino Palladino. Most shows from the tour were released officially on CD. Before the tour began new songs "Real Good Looking Boy" and "Certified Rose" were rehearsed alongside old classics such as "I Can See for Miles," but due to the death of Entwistle, they were not performed. In September, Q magazine named The Who as one of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die".
In 2004 The Who released two new songs, "Old Red Wine" and "Real Good Looking Boy" (with Pino Palladino and Greg Lake, respectively, on bass guitar), as part of a singles anthology (The Who: Then and Now), and went on an 18-date world tour, playing Japan, Australia, the UK and the US. Again, all shows were released on CD. The band also headlined the Isle of Wight Festival that year and received the usual ecstatic reviews. They then announced that the spring of 2005 would see the release of their first new studio album in 23 years (tentatively titled WHO2). In March 2005, Pete Townshend's website issued a statement that the release was delayed indefinitely, and explained that expected UK/US tours in the summer of 2005 were also shelved. Part of this was due to slow recording of the new material, and part was due to Zak Starkey's commitment to tour with Oasis. The Who performed "Who Are You" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" on the London stage of the Live 8 concert in July 2005. Steve White (drummer for Paul Weller and older brother of ex-Oasis drummer Alan White) took the place of Starkey, who was on tour with Oasis, and Damon Minchella (Ocean Colour Scene's bassist) filled in for Palladino (who was touring South America as the bassist for Jeff Beck).
In December 2005, Rolling Stone magazine announced that The Who would be touring in the summer of 2006, visiting countries such as Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan and Australia.
Roger Daltrey also performed a specially commissioned song "Highbury Highs" at the Highbury Farewell ceremony following the final football match at Arsenal Stadium, Highbury between Arsenal and Wigan 7 May 2006 in which Arsenal celebrated the previous 93 years at Highbury, preparing for their move to Emirates Stadium, Ashburton Grove the following season.
In October 2006 The Who were presented with the first annual Freddie Mercury Lifetime Achievement in Live Music Award at the Vodafone Live Music Awards.
 Current and future plans
Townshend and Daltrey recently finished recording a new album, Endless Wire, which was released on 30 October 2006 (31 October in the USA) . It is their first full studio album of new material since 1982's It's Hard. The new album features songs inspired by many subjects, such as the incidence of Stockholm syndrome during the Beslan school hostage crisis ("Black Widow's Eyes"), Mel Gibson's 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ ("Man in a Purple Dress" and "2000 Years") and it contains the band's first mini-opera since "Rael" on 1967's The Who Sell Out. Excerpts from the mini-opera, called "Wire & Glass", were released as a Maxi-single on July 17th exclusively on iTunes, and was released on CD and limited edition 12" vinyl in the UK on 24th July.  "Mirror Door" was released in a radio edit and was first played on BBC Radio 2, on The Ken Bruce Show at 10:00 on the 8th June 2006.
To support the new album's release, The Who did a 24-date European tour followed by their first world tour. These are their first shows since their 2004 world tour and brief performance at Live 8 in 2005. They played a number of music festivals around the UK, including headlining Oxegen in Ireland on July 8 and T in the Park in Scotland on July 9. They also closed the second day of Hyde Park Calling, a concert to celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the Hard Rock Cafe, on July 2. Members of the latest lineup remain, including keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick, bassist Pino Palladino, drummer Zak Starkey and guitarist Simon Townshend, who is also acting as the supporting act for The Who with his band The Casbah Club. Other opening acts to be featured on the worldwide tour include The Pretenders.
It was announced at short notice that the opening gig of the tour would be at Leeds University Refectory on June 17th, the same venue at which they recorded the Live at Leeds album. Tickets to this particular show were sold in person only from the Leeds University Union, with sales limited to two tickets per person.  Before the concert Roger and Pete unveiled a blue plaque to commemorate the recording of Live at Leeds at the same venue 36 years before. This show was so greatly anticipated that the BBC covered the story, both on the day of the concert and the day after, including interviews with audience members as they were leaving the gig.
The Who took a break from touring the US and appeared at the BBC's Electric Proms and on the Parkinson show on the BBC before returning to the USA. Pete Townshend has said that he hopes to finish The Who tour with a gig at Glastonbury Festival 2007.
The Who will be playing in Philadelphia on November 25, 2006 at the Wachovia Center.
Shows from the entire UK tour were broadcast online at thewholive.tv. Video streaming company Streaming Tank have been placed in charge of broadcasting the concerts, headed up by the technical team for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. This is the first attempt by any band to broadcast entire shows via the Internet since the Pixelon.com "Vegas Job" in October 1999, their first attempt at live broadcasting over the internet. Most of the European shows were preceded in the broadcast by an episode of the web TV programme, In The Attic, presented by Rachel Fuller and Michael Cuthbert. At festivals such as the O2 Festival in Leeds, the opening artists for The Who appeared as guests on the show once they came off stage.
Sirius Satellite Radio is currently featuring a 24-hour channel dedicated to The Who. This limited-run channel is being produced by Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey and features rare recordings, interviews, and broadcasts of concerts. The channel began broadcasting on September 21, 2006.
On October 3rd, 2006, iTunes released two singles from Endless Wire entitled "Tea & Theatre" (which is played at the end of the concerts during the North American leg of Live 2006 Encore Series) and "It's Not Enough."
Zak Starkey has been invited to become a full member of The Who.
As their sound developed with each album, and their audience expanded with each tour, John Entwistle and Pete Townshend became known for constantly and consistently changing the equipment they used on stage. Townshend altered his setup for nearly every tour, and Entwistle's equipment changed even more than that. Keith Moon also played various drum kits, probably the most recognized of which is the 'Pictures of Lily' kit, manufactured by Premier Percussion, which actually consisted of two and a half kits' worth of equipment as a precaution towards his tendency to destroy parts of it onstage. A detailed reference of each band member's equipment throughout their career can be found here.
 The Who and the invention of Marshall Stacks
In the early-mid 1960s, Pete Townshend and especially John Entwistle were directly responsible for the creation and widespread use of stacked Marshall cabinets. Townshend later remarked that John started using Marshall Stacks in order to hear himself over Keith Moon's drums, and Pete himself also had to use them just to be heard over John.
In fact, the very first 100 watt Marshall amps (called "Superleads") were created specifically for Entwistle and Townshend when they were looking to replace some equipment which had been stolen from them. Prior to the theft they were each using 50 watt amps, Entwistle was using a Marshall JTM45 and Townshend had a Fender Bassman.
They approached Jim Marshall asking if it would be possible for him to make their new rigs more powerful than those they had lost, to which they were told that the speaker cabinets would have to double in size. They agreed and six rigs of this prototype were manufactured, of which two each were given to Townshend and Entwistle and one each to Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott of The Small Faces. These new "double" cabinets proved too heavy and awkward to be transported practically, so The Who returned to Marshall asking if they could be cut in half and stacked, and although the double cabinets were left intact, the existing single cabinet models were modified for stacking, which has become the norm for years to follow.
Entwistle and Townshend both continued expanding and experimenting with their rigs, until (at a time when most bands still used 50–100w amps with single cabinets) they were both using twin Stacks, with each Stack being driven by new experimental prototype 200w amps (nicknamed "Pigs" for their extra grunt). This, in turn, also had a strong influence on the band's contemporaries at the time, with Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience both following suit. However, due to the cost of transport, The Who could not afford to take their full rigs with them for their earliest overseas tours, thus Cream and Hendrix were the first to be seen to use this setup on a wide scale, particularly in America.
Ironically, although The Who pioneered and directly contributed to the development of the "classic" Marshall sound and setup with their equipment being built/tweaked to their personal specifications, by the time they could afford to transport their equipment overseas a couple of years later, they had stopped using Marshalls and moved on to Sound City equipment. Cream and particularly Hendrix would be widely miscredited with the invention of Marshall Stacks.
 Sound City and the invention of Hiwatt amplifiers
John Entwistle traded in his Marshall Stacks in favour of Sound City at the beginning of 1967, and Townshend followed later that year.
Around this time, Jimi Hendrix and his manager Chas Chandler approached Townshend asking for his opinion on amplification. He told them that he had stopped using Marshall as he thought Sound City were better. The Jimi Hendrix Experience subsequently started using Sound City rigs, but set them up together with their Marshall Stacks instead of replacing them. Cream also used Sound City alongside their Marshalls for their final "farewell" tour in 1968.
In late 1968 The Who approached Dallas Arbiter, the makers of Sound City, asking if their equipment could be modified slightly. This request was denied, but independent amp designer/manufacturer Dave Reeves, a former employee of Sound City, agreed and created customised Sound City L100 amplifiers under the name Hylight Electronics. This model was named the Hiwatt DR103, which would be modified in 1970 into the CP103 "Super Who 100" model which Townshend used almost exclusively for over a decade. In 1973 the updated DR103W model was created, which has been the central piece of equipment around which Townshend's various rigs have been built for the past thirty years. 
 The early years
Each of the eventual band members played in various early versions of The Who and in other groups. Pete Townshend and John Entwistle first played together in a band called The Confederates. The two also played together in bands called The Aristocrats and The Scorpions. Roger Daltrey was the lead guitarist for a band called The Detours. Townshend has said that at the time he, Entwistle and Daltrey met, Daltrey was the best guitarist of the three.
Daltrey invited Entwistle to join the Detours; Entwistle agreed to do so and left the Scorpions. Entwistle then proposed to Daltrey that Townshend, still with the Scorpions, replace Reg Bowen in the Detours. Daltrey agreed. The Detours were filled out by Colin Dawson on vocals and Doug Sandom on drums, with Daltrey playing lead guitar.
The Detours began playing under other names, including The High Numbers, The Who: Maximum R & B.
 The classic era
From around the time the band settled on its classic line-up in the mid-sixties, The Who performed as a rock power trio modified by the addition of Roger Daltrey as a lead singer who did not play an instrument other than the occasional use of a tambourine or harmonica. From the beginning the band drew attention because all three instrumentalists — guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon — would often play lead parts, sometimes simultaneously, or the guitar or bass might assume the role of percussion while the drums added spice rather than driving the beat. The result was music more cacophonous and often more sophisticated than conventional performances in the rock genre. To this day, Moon is remembered for his creative and influential drumming, Townshend for his sensitive song-writing as well as his memorable riffs and power chords, Entwistle for his nimble and unorthodox bass playing, and Daltrey for his emotion and vocal power.
WTAC Power Rock AM600 in Flint, Michigan was the first radio station in America to play The Who, and the band played one of its very first concerts in Flint at a venue called Atwood Stadium, opening for Herman's Hermits. It was in Flint some time later during Keith Moon's 21st birthday (he actually did turn 21 that day, although biographies of the band at the time listed him as a year younger) where Moon, in a drunken state, was alleged to have driven someone's Cadillac into the Holiday Inn pool.  However, many witnesses to the party, including Who bandmate John Entwistle, insist that no such event ever occurred.
Moreover, all but Moon were competent vocalists, and shared the vocal workload. (Even Moon had the occasional vocal, though.) Daltrey was the official front man, centered on the stage, and served as lead singer for most songs. Entwistle sang his own compositions, and contributed humorous role-playing vocal phrases in songs such as "Summertime Blues". Townshend sometimes took over as lead singer from Daltrey, or the two took turns during a song, singing alternate verses as in "Naked Eye" or exploiting a distinctive format in many of Townshend's compositions where Daltrey would sing the verses and Townshend would sing during a bridge or interlude which contrasted stylistically with the rest of the song, as in "Bargain" and "Baba O'Riley".
The surfeit of singers also let them use three-part harmonies in rich choruses such as the "Listening to You" motif in Tommy, and ethereal background "Ahhh"s in songs such as "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Odorono". One significant vocal technique used in early songs like "My Generation" was the "call and response," in which the lead singer would sing a line and the backing singers would respond. They also used background vocals in other creative ways, such as the clever staccato "Laugh laugh laugh"/"Lap lap lap" syllables echoing the sense of the lead vocal in "Happy Jack" and the humorous "Cello cello cello" chorus purportedly inspired by being unable to afford a string section when going into the studio to record "A Quick One, While He's Away".
 Later changes
In 1971 they began to experiment with pre-recorded synthesizer "continuo" parts in songs such as "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" from that year's Who's Next album. This is an early example of a technique called "sequencing", in which a repeating keyboard/synthesizer pattern establishes the tempo of the song, and the other musicians, including the drummer, play in time to it. This technique was so far ahead of its time that it did not see widespread use until the 1980s in bands such as Depeche Mode. In order to perform these pieces live, the synthesizer tracks would be fed to their stage monitors, and drummer Keith Moon would wear headphones to ensure that he heard the recording clearly enough to sync the band with it. When they first introduced these recordings, technical difficulties sometimes severely disrupted concerts, causing the band members' notorious tempers to flare onstage. It was many years before the technique was perfected on stage, by The Who and with other acts.
After the death of Keith Moon in 1978, drummer Kenney Jones (formerly of the Small Faces) was asked by Townshend to join The Who. Jones was the last "official member" to join the band. Jones's membership occurred during The Who's most prolonged period of inactivity (after their 1982 "split up", their only public performances were at the Live Aid concert in 1985 and a one-off appearance on British TV in 1988). When Jones joined The Who, they also gave up the power trio format and began touring with a keyboardist, usually John "Rabbit" Bundrick, and a small horn section. They soon scaled back to just a keyboardist backing the band, but returned to the extended touring line-up, even adding a second guitarist and back-up singers, on the 1989 tour. Simon Phillips replaced Kenney Jones as drummer for the 1989 tour. The 1996 and 1997 tour also featured this expanded line-up which helped them bring to life their 1973 masterpiece Quadrophenia. Drummer Zak Starkey replaced Phillips in 1996 (see below). Beginning in 1999, The Who nearly returned to the power trio format, with only a keyboardist augmenting the sound. They then added Pete Townshend's brother Simon Townshend, who had also played in the Quadrophenia shows, on second guitar and backing vocals in 2002.
Since the 1996 Quadrophenia shows, The Who's working drummer has been Zak Starkey, son of the Beatles' Ringo Starr. Zak has been credited with reinvigorating The Who's sound with his youthful energy and a style of playing that is, at times, reminiscent of Keith Moon (Keith, who was a close friend of Ringo Starr, was Zak's first teacher on the drums and even gave him one of his massive drumkits.).
The untimely death of John Entwistle on the eve of their 2002 tour led to the addition of famed session player Pino Palladino as their touring bassist.
The Who began their career by covering and imitating rhythm and blues hits, and never completely abandoned those roots. Even after moving on to other types of material they continued to perform R&B classics such as "Young Man Blues" and "Summertime Blues" throughout their performing career, including their late reunion tours.
 Other aspects of their performances
The musicians of The Who were also natural showmen: singer Daltrey was a dynamic front man, noted for hurling his microphone around on the end of its cord like a lariat. Townshend is famed for playing crashing chords on his guitar with great windmill-like sweeps of his arms (he claims that he got the idea from watching Keith Richards swing his arms to limber them up before a concert; Richards later said he didn't remember ever doing it). The maniacal Moon battered his drums powerfully. Through all that mayhem, Entwistle stood still, often for the entire length of the show, seemingly bored by the whole affair, playing intricate, powerful, innovative bass lines as if he had the stage to himself. The band members also punctuated their performances with jokes, tricks, and over-the-top introductions to the songs; Townshend once commented that only the cessation of touring saved them from degenerating into a vaudeville act. During performances, they would often chat with members of the audience between songs. The crowd-band interaction was high during performances of Tommy or Quadrophenia, when Townshend would feel the need to explain the plot of the operas to the crowd. During these explanations, Moon would usually comment in a sarcastic and humorous manner, much to the delight of the crowd.
In the early days, The Who were most famous for smashing their instruments at the end of their concerts, and would often throw the damaged remains into the audience. One of the most famous times this happened was on The Smothers Brothers Show. The band was nearing the end of "My Generation" when the American audience witnessed the truly destructive nature of The Who. A smoke machine started behind the amp racks, and Pete Townshend jammed his guitar into his speaker several times, causing it to appear to short circuit in a ball of fire and smoke. This was actually a rigged pyro, set behind the amps, which, bearing in mind that the backing track was pre-recorded, were not plugged in. Keith Moon had rigged his drum set with triple the normal amount of explosives, and as Pete Townshend was smashing his guitar into oblivion on the stage, the drums exploded and Pete, supposedly (see below), sustained severe ear damage. This would signal that the band had given all it had, and generated some coveted souvenirs as a side effect (the broken bits of gear). Townshend cites his art school mentor Gustav Metzger as an influence, who had developed a concept called Auto-Destructive Art. Although The Who mostly stopped smashing their instruments around the time of Tommy, they would occasionally do it long afterwards.
They were also notorious for how they treated their hotel rooms and dressing rooms, particularly Moon, with frequent incidents of destruction (another eventual cliché). The band was arrested for this on at least one occasion, in Montreal, and were for many years banned from the Holiday Inn hotel chain.
The Who's live performances were traditionally extremely loud. For most of the 1970s and 1980s they were listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest Rock band in the world, measured at 130 decibels, though other bands, notably Deep Purple have since taken over that dubious honour. Daltrey has hearing problems as a result, and Townshend's later partial deafness and tinnitus is well known; popular legends hold that the members of the band suffered permanent hearing loss from their loud concerts, or that Townshend's right ear was damaged as a result of being too close to the drum kit when Moon detonated an oversized concussion bomb in it at the conclusion of a performance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967. Townshend, however, maintains that the true cause was listening to the music at high volume through headphones.
Various members of the band wore "trademark" dress on stage and in photo shoots at various periods of the band's history. During the 1960s Townshend sported a jacket made of a Union Jack. (Reportedly the Irish Republican Army threatened to blow up the band on stage if he wore it at an appearance in Ireland, but Townshend had planned ahead and provided himself with a jacket more sympathetic to Irish nationalist sentiments.) At the end of the decade he switched to a simple jumpsuit or boiler suit, and appears wearing it in the Woodstock footage. For a period, John Entwistle wore a Halloween-style skeleton suit in concert. From the late 1960s through most of the 1970s, Roger Daltrey appeared in a fringed buckskin jacket or vest, and can be seen wearing it in most film footage of the era. In addition to clothes, all but Daltrey shared the same haircut during the Tommy era, with the sides grown to neck-length but the bangs cut very short.
 In the studio
The Who were more efficient as a live band, and throughout their history members always claimed that they could never capture their live sound in the studio. Because of this, studio recordings were always made for the purpose of establishing material for The Who's live shows during which songs would take on entirely new dimensions. Perhaps the best starter for anyone interested in listening to the band is the Live at Leeds album, on which, recently, the entire 1970 concert is now available. However, great care and effort went into the recording process so that the studio recordings are among the best of their genre even though they, in many ways, are not representative of the band. Rumour had it that one of the two guitar solos on "I Can't Explain" was dubbed in by Jimmy Page, the guitarist later made famous by his work in rock group Led Zeppelin, a claim discounted later by the producer Shel Talmy and Townshend, who stated Page doubled on rhythm and appeared on the b-side, "Bald Headed Woman", playing a simple fuzz box pattern. As the sixties progressed their studio sound was progressively modified by the use of overdubs to add complete additional parts without the need for additional musicians, rather than simply as an ordinary studio technique for capturing clean takes of vocal and solo parts. The added parts were usually additional guitar and keyboard parts for Townshend, though horn parts by John Entwistle were added to one or more songs on each album. When Tommy came out in 1969, the mix included not only electric guitar, bass, drums, and three-part vocals, but additional tracks for acoustic guitar, piano, organ, and horn, as if performed by six or eight instrumentalists rather than the actual three. As a result of this expansion many of their recorded songs have a dense sound with rich textures and fine details which can only be appreciated through careful headphone listenings.
Tommy also featured some of Townshend's early use of synthetic sounds, a recording of the click and fade of a piano note or some sort of percussion instrument dubbed in from a reversed tape to give a sound which grows louder up to a sharp cut-off, used in the song "Amazing Journey". His interest in synthetic sounds blossomed when he acquired an early VCS3 synthesizer and used it very aggressively on the 1971 Who's Next album. Though other keyboard instruments continued to be used in the band's recordings, and they briefly returned to a leaner sound for the 1975 The Who By Numbers album, Townshend's adoption of the synthesizer and the near-simultaneous maturation of studio recording equipment and techniques led to a big, solid, "modern" sound which became the signature of the post-classic era Who.
The studio albums of the sixties chronicle the phases of the band's ventures into several sub-genres of Rock music and their experiments with Modernism. Their 1965 My Generation UK album (released in US 1966 in slightly altered form, "The Who Sings My Generation") features covers of popular rhythm and blues songs performed with a heavy sound which The Who promoted as "Maximum R&B". On their 1966 A Quick One UK album (released in the U.S. by 1967 in slightly altered form, "Happy Jack") they abandoned R&B in favor of an experiment in Pop music as an aural counterpart to the Pop art movement. By the time of their 1967 The Who Sell Out album they had mostly abandoned the Pop experiment, instead offering a mixture of psychedelic rock and other songs of no specific sub-genre characteristics. With their release of Tommy in 1969 they gave up their experiments with sub-genres, and settled on a mainstream rock sound, albeit well toward the "hard" end of the spectrum and featuring many of the characteristics of progressive rock, which with the mini opera on Quick One they had already helped pioneer, alongside Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Procol Harum and the Moody Blues; the aim was to do something serious with rock music - a rare occurrence at the time. In the 1980s, the band made an attempt at achieving a New Wave music sound and even released a single, "Eminence Front", which had a sound heavily influenced by Funk.
In the background of those major trends in The Who's music there were several other minor tendencies. Keith Moon always wanted to play Surfer Music (he joined the Beach Boys for an hour), and two or three tunes in that genre eventually appeared on the band's B-sides or collection albums, such as the tune "The Ox" from My Generation. As time passed Townshend increasingly incorporated jazz and swing music motifs into his composition, singing, and playing, but even when present they tend to be masked by the hard rock sound of the band in ensemble. Finally, as with most of the early British rock musicians, the band's members were greatly influenced by country music, though the genre rarely appears in their recordings unless transformed almost beyond recognition.
- See also: The Who in popular culture
The Who were easily one of the most influential groups in rock music as a whole. The aggressive music made by the power trio formation of Townshend, Entwistle and Moon, was followed by groups such as Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Jam and nearly all punk and grunge bands.
Their early sound and attitude epitomised what would come to be known as punk in the mid-late 70's. In addition, The Who are the only band covered by and/or heavily influential to all three of the major punk rock bands: the Clash, Ramones and Sex Pistols, as well as an enormous influence on proto punk bands like the MC5. The synth-covered tracks of Who's Next were a starter for the origins of the new wave genre, which is based on synth in addition to traditional instruments. Bands affected this way include The Police, The Cars, Blondie, Boston, and others.
During their earliest Mod genesis, The Who provided inspiration for most, if not all, of the major bands during the Britpop wave in Britain during the mid-90s. Bands such as Blur, Oasis, Stereophonics and Ash draw a heavy influence from the band's work, which, especially with the Mod counter-culture, provided a quintessentially "Cool Britannia" ideal.
The group has been credited with devising the "rock opera" and it made one of the first notable concept albums. Following in Tommy's footsteps were David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, and the Pink Floyd albums Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, and especially The Wall. Recently, the idea was adopted by The Flaming Lips in Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Hüsker Dü in Zen Arcade and Green Day in American Idiot.
"My Generation" is perhaps the band's most covered song. Iron Maiden, Green Day, Oasis, and Patti Smith have released covers of the song. Oasis used it as their set closer during their 2005 world tour. David Bowie covered "I Can't Explain" "Pictures of Lily' and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere". The Clash based several songs off of the "I Can't Explain" riff, most blatantly with "Guns on the Roof". Pearl Jam also would perform The Who's "Baba O'Riley" and "The Kids Are Alright" during their tours in the 90's and 00's. Van Halen covered "Won't Get Fooled Again" on their 1993 live album Live: Right Here, Right Now, explicitly describing it as "a tribute to The Who" and in 1995, Phish covered Quadrophenia for their second annual Halloween concert tradition of performing another band's album in its entirety, which was later released as Live Phish Volume 14. The Grateful Dead also covered "Baba O'Riley" in the early 90s.
The music of The Who is still performed in public by many tribute bands, such as The Wholigans, Who's Next USA, BARGAIN, and The OHM, in the USA and Who's Next UK and Who's Who in the UK.
- "The Who's work became a major template for so many of us. The considered and intelligent use of so-called 'art-theory', actively engaged with rock music, was merely one of Pete's phenomenally important contributions to the new 'language' of rock." (David Bowie)
- "A group who really molded us when we were kids and beyond is The Who...we would go anywhere to see The Who." (Brian May of Queen)
- "More than any other band, The Who are our role models." (Bono of U2)
- "The one thing that disgusts me about The Who is the way they smashed through every door in the uncharted hallway of rock 'n' roll without leaving much more than some debris for the rest of us to lay claim to." (Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam)
- "The Who are just one of those amazing experiences that have not only defied their own hype, they've actually transcended it. They embody everything rock can and should be - rhythm, tension, energy, and the most elusive ingredient of all, passion." (Sheryl Crow)
- "I can't help but get caught up in the electricity of Pete Townshend's playing. It's moving to see and hear an instrument when it becomes an extension of someone, an appendage that's mastered with the naturalness and unconsciousness of the movement of your own body. I learned from him in terms of having the sound come from more places than just your fingers. And I do strive for that kind of energy, to be so galvanizing." (Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney)
- For more detailed information, see The Who personnel
 Current members
- Pete Townshend – primary songwriter, guitar, keyboards, vocals (1962-present)
- Roger Daltrey – vocals, harmonica, guitar (1962-present)
- Zak Starkey – drums, percussion (1996-present; "official" band member 2006-present)
 Past members
- John Entwistle – bass, vocals (1962-2002) (Deceased)
- Keith Moon – drums, percussion (1964-1978) (Deceased)
- Kenney Jones – drums, percussion (1979-1988)
 Other current band members
- John "Rabbit" Bundrick – keyboards, piano, vocals (1979-1981, 1989-present)
- Simon Townshend – rhythm guitar, vocals (1996-1997, 2002-present)
- Pino Palladino – bass (2002-present)
 External links
 Official sites
- The Who official site
- The Who Tour official tour site
- Pete Townshend official homepage
- John Entwistle official homepage
- Towser TV more official webcasts
 Reference pages
- The Who at MusicBrainz
- The Who reference page
- The Who's Marshall history
- Pete Townshend's transition from Sound City to Hiwatt
- Pete Townshend's Hiwatt history
- The Who Location Guide
- The Who Concert Guide
- The Who at Rollingstone
 Fan pages
- The Who Forum: Who News and discussion community.
- The Boy Who Heard Music.com - Pete Townshend and The Who Tribute Site
- Live Videos
- WhoAreYou - The largest Yahoo! Group devoted to The Who
- The Who Italia - the first italian website about The Who
|Roger Daltrey | Pete Townshend | John Entwistle | Keith Moon|
|Kenney Jones - John "Rabbit" Bundrick - Pino Palladino - Zak Starkey |
Simon Townshend - Jon Carin - Simon Phillips - Doug Sandom - Colin Dawson
|Personnel - Discography - Filmography - The Who in popular culture|
|Other related people|
|Peter Meaden - Kit Lambert - Chris Stamp|
 See also
cs:The Who cy:The Who da:The Who de:The Who es:The Who fr:The Who ga:The Who it:The Who he:המי hu:The Who nl:The Who ja:ザ・フー no:The Who nn:The Who nds:The Who pl:The Who pt:The Who ru:The Who simple:The Who sr:Ху fi:The Who sv:The Who zh:谁人