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The Who are an Englishmarker rock band formed in 1964. The primary lineup consisted of guitarist Pete Townshend, vocalist Roger Daltrey, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They became known for energetic live performances including the pioneering spectacle of instrument destruction. The Who have sold about 100 million records and have charted 27 top forty singles in the United Kingdom and United States with 17 top ten albums.

The Who rose to fame in the UK with a series of top ten hit single, boosted in part by pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline, beginning in January 1965 with "I Can't Explain". The albums My Generation (1965), A Quick One (1966) and The Who Sell Out (1967) followed, with the first two hitting the UK top five. They first hit the US Top Forty in 1967 with "Happy Jack" and hit the top ten later that year with "I Can See for Miles". Their fame grew with memorable performances at the Monterey Popmarker and Woodstockmarker music festivals. The 1969 release of Tommy was the first in a series of top ten albums in the US, followed by Live at Leeds (1970), Who's Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), The Who By Numbers (1975), Who Are You (1978) and The Kids Are Alright (1979).

Moon died at the age of 32 in 1978, after which the band released two studio albums, the UK and US top five Face Dances (1981) and the US top ten It's Hard (1982), with drummer Kenney Jones, before disbanding in 1983. They re-formed at events such as Live Aid and for reunion tours such as their 25th anniversary tour (1989) and the Quadrophenia tours of 1996 and 1997. In 2000, the three surviving original members discussed recording an album of new material, but their plans temporarily stalled upon Entwistle's death at the age of 57 in 2002. Townshend and Daltrey continue to perform as The Who, and in 2006 they released the studio album Endless Wire, which reached the top ten in the UK and USA.

The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker in 1990, their first year of eligibility. Their display there describes them as "Prime contenders, in the minds of many, for the title of World's Greatest Rock Band." The Los Angeles Times wrote that during their tenure as a quartet, the band "rivaled The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones as the most vital rock voice of youth." Time Magazine wrote in 1979 that "No other group has ever pushed rock so far, or asked so much from it." They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1988, and from the Grammy Foundation in 2001. In 2008 surviving members Townshend and Daltrey were honoured at the 31st Annual Kennedy Center Honors.



Early days

In the early 1960s, Townshend and Entwistle started a trad jazz band called The Confederates. Townshend played banjo and Entwistle played the French horn, which he had learned to play in his school band. Daltrey met Entwistle walking down the street with a bass guitar slung over his shoulder and asked him to join his band called The Detours, which he had formed the year before. After a few weeks, Entwistle suggested Townshend as an additional guitarist. In the early days the band played a variety of music suitable for the pubs and halls they performed in, then became influenced by American blues and country music, playing mostly rhythm and blues. The lineup was Daltrey on lead guitar, Townshend on rhythm guitar, Entwistle on bass, Doug Sandom on drums, and Colin Dawson vocals. After Dawson left, Daltrey moved to vocals and Townshend became sole guitarist. In 1964 Sandom left and Keith Moon became drummer.

The Detours changed their name to The Who in February 1964 and, with the arrival of Moon that year, the line-up was complete. However, for a short period in summer 1964, under the management of mod Peter Meaden, they changed their name to The High Numbers, releasing "Zoot Suit/I'm the Face", a single aimed at appealing to mod fans. When the single failed to chart, the band reverted to The Who. Meaden was replaced as manager by the team of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, who saw the band play at the Railway Tavern, offered to manage them and bought Meaden out. They became popular among the British mods, a 1960s subculture involving cutting-edge fashions, scooters and music genres such as rhythm and blues, soul, and beat music.

In September 1964, during a performance at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone, London, Townshend accidentally broke the head of his guitar through the ceiling. Angered by sniggers from the audience, he smashed the instrument on the stage. He picked up another guitar and continued the show. A large crowd attended the next concert, but Townshend declined to smash another guitar. Instead, Moon wrecked his drumkit after Townshend received catcalls from the crowd. Instrument destruction became a staple of The Who's shows for several years. The incident at the Railway Tavern is one of Rolling Stone magazine's "50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock 'n' Roll".

The band crystallised around Townshend as primary songwriter and creative force. Entwistle also made songwriting contributions, and Moon and Daltrey contributed occasional songs in the '60s and '70s.

Early singles and My Generation

The Who's first release, and first hit, was January 1965's "I Can't Explain", a record influenced by the Kinks, with whom they shared American producer Shel Talmy. The song was only played in a few markets in the USA, notably by DJ Peter C Cavanaugh on WTAC AM 600 in Flint, Michigan. "I Can't Explain" was a top 10 hit in the UK and was followed by "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", a song credited to Townshend and Daltrey.

The debut album My Generation (The Who Sings My Generation in the U.S.) was released the same year. It included "The Kids Are Alright" and the title track "My Generation". Subsequent hits, such as the 1966 singles "Substitute", about a young man who feels like a fraud, "I'm a Boy", about a boy dressed as a girl, and "Happy Jack", about a mentally disturbed young man, show Townshend's use of the themes of sexual tension and teenage angst.

A Quick One and The Who Sell Out

The Who, ca. 1967
successful as a singles band, Townshend wanted The Who's albums unified rather than collections of songs. Townshend said "I'm a Boy" was from a projected rock opera, the first sign of which came in the 1966 album A Quick One, which included the storytelling medley "A Quick One While He's Away", which they referred to as a mini-opera.

A Quick One was followed in 1967 by the single "Pictures of Lily" and The Who Sell Out - a concept album like an offshore radio station, complete with humorous jingles and commercials. It included a mini rock opera called "Rael" (whose closing theme ended up on Tommy) and The Who's biggest US single, "I Can See for Miles". The Who destroyed equipment at the Monterey Pop Festivalmarker that year and repeated the routine on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour with explosive results as Moon detonated his drumkit. Years later, during filming of The Kids Are Alright, Townshend claimed that the event was the start of his hearing troubles. The drum kit had been loaded with an excessive amount of explosives due to Keith Moon bribing a stage hand. The resulting explosion was much more powerful than had been anticipated. Music channel VH1 listed the event at #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Moments on Television.


In 1968, The Who headlined the first Schaefer Music Festival in New York City's Central Parkmarker and released the single "Magic Bus". In December, they took part in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, performing their mini-opera, "A Quick One While He's Away". Also that year, Townshend became the subject of the first Rolling Stone interview. Townshend said he was working on a full-length rock opera. This was Tommy, the first work billed as a rock opera and a landmark in modern music.

During this time the teachings of India's Meher Baba influenced Townshend's songwriting, continuing for many years. Baba is credited as "Avatar" on Tommy. In addition to commercial success, Tommy became a critical smash, 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 Festivalmarker that year. That, and the ensuing film, catapulted The Who's popularity in the USA. Though the festival became free, the Who demanded to be paid before performing despite banks and roads being closed 2–3 am on Sunday morning and only agreed to play when one of the promoters, Joel Rosenman, came up with a certified check for $11,200 ($ in current dollar terms).

It was during the performance of The Who at Woodstock that one of the most notorious events of the concert took place. Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman sat on the stage with concert organizer Michael Lang during The Who's set. Hoffman had been working the medical tent since the festival's opening act and was under the influence of LSD. Hoffman had become increasingly determined to publicize the case of John Sinclair, who had been given a 10-year jail sentence for passing two marijuana cigarettes to an undercover narcotics officer. Hoffman jumped up and grabbed a microphone during a brief lull in The Who's performance of Tommy saying, "I think this is a pile of shit, while John Sinclair rots in prison!" Townshend replied, "Fuck off! Fuck off my fucking stage!" and struck Hoffman with his guitar. Hoffman leaped off the stage and disappeared into the crowd.


Live at Leeds

In February 1970 The Who recorded Live at Leeds, thought by many critics to be the best live rock album of all time. "Hope I don't have a heart attack". (22 June 2006). Retrieved on 3 January 2007.

* Live at Leeds: Who's best... The Independent (7 June 2006). Retrieved on 3 January 2007.

* Hyden, Steven. THE WHO: Live at Leeds. (29 January 2003)

* The Who: Live at Leeds. BBC - Leeds - Entertainment (18 August 2006). Retrieved on 3 January 2007

* 170) Live at Leeds. Rolling Stone Magazine (1 November 2003). Retrieved on 3 January 2007 The album, originally containing mostly the show's set closing hard rock songs, has been re-released in expanded and remastered versions. These versions remedy technical problems with the original and are expanded with portions of the performance of Tommy, as well as versions of earlier singles and stage banter. A double-disc version contains the entire performance of Tommy. The Leeds University gig was part of the Tommy tour, which not only included gigs in European opera houses but saw The Who become the first rock act at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. In March The Who released the UK top twenty hit "The Seeker".

Lifehouse and Who's Next

In March 1971, the band began recording the available Lifehouse material, a new Townshend-penned rock opera, with Kit Lambert in New York, and then restarted the sessions with Glyn Johns in April. Selections from the material, with one unrelated song by Entwistle, were released as a traditional studio album, Who's Next. The album became their most successful album among critics and fans, but terminated the Lifehouse project. Who's Next reached #4 in the USA pop charts and #1 in the UK. Two tracks from the album, "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again", are cited as pioneering examples of synthesizer use in rock music; both tracks' keyboard sounds were generated in real time by a Lowrey organ (though in "Won't Get Fooled Again", the organ was processed through a VCS3 synthesizer). Synthesizers can be heard elsewhere on the album, in "Bargain", "Going Mobile", and "The Song is Over". In October The Who released the UK top twenty hit "Let's See Action". On 4 November 1971 The Who opened the Rainbow Theatre in London and played for three nights. In 1972 they released the UK top ten and US top twenty single "Join Together" and the UK and US Top Forty "The Relay".

Quadrophenia and By Numbers

Who's Next was followed by Quadrophenia (1973), The Who's second completed double album rock opera. The story is about a boy named Jimmy, who struggles for self-esteem, with his family and others, and is mentally ill. His story is set against clashes between Mods and Rockers in the early 1960s in the UK, particularly at Brightonmarker. The album became their highest charting cross-Atlantic success, peaking at #2 in the UK and US. The US tour started on 20 November 1973 at the San Francisco, Californiamarker Cow Palace in Daly City where Moon passed out during "Won't Get Fooled Again" and, after a break backstage, again in "Magic Bus". Townshend asked the audience, "Can anyone play the drums? - I mean somebody good." An audience member, Scot Halpin, filled in for the rest of the show, a jam featuring "Smokestack Lightning", "Spoonful" and "Naked Eye".

Moon in 1975
In 1974 The Who released the outtakes album Odds & Sods, which featured several songs from the aborted Lifehouse project. Their 1975 album, The Who by Numbers, had introspective songs, lightened by "Squeeze Box", another hit single. Some critics considered By Numbers Townshend's "suicide note." A movie version of Tommy released that year was directed by Ken Russell, starred Daltrey and earned Townshend an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. In December, The Who set the record for largest indoor concert at the Pontiac Silverdomemarker. In 1976, The Who played at The Valleymarker in what was listed for over a decade in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's loudest concert.

Who Are You and Moon's death

Daltrey and Townshend, 21 Oct.
On 18 August 1978, the band released Who Are You. It became their biggest and fastest seller to that date, peaking at #2 in the US, and was certified platinum in the US on the twentieth of September. This success was overshadowed by Moon's death September 7, 1978. He died in his sleep after an overdose of Heminevrin - prescribed to combat alcohol withdrawal - a few hours after a party held by Paul McCartney. The last album cover shows Moon in a chair with the words "not to be taken away"; the song "Music Must Change" has no drum track. Kenney Jones, of The Small Faces and The Faces, joined as Moon's successor.

On 2 May 1979, The Who returned to the stage with well-received concerts at the Rainbow Theatremarker in London, at the Cannes Film Festivalmarker in France, Wembley Stadiummarker and five dates at Madison Square Gardenmarker in New York City. A small tour of the United States was marred by tragedy: on 3 December 1979 in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker, a crush at Riverfront Coliseummarker killed 11 fans. The band was not told until after the show because civic authorities feared crowd problems if the concert were cancelled. The band was shaken upon learning of the incident and requested assistance in subsequent venues for appropriate safety precautions for their following concerts.

Also in 1979, The Who released a documentary film called The Kids Are Alright and a film version of Quadrophenia, the latter a box office hit in the UK and the former capturing many of the band's most scintillating moments on stage, including their last performance with Keith Moon. In December, The Who became the third band, after the Beatles and The Band, featured on the cover of Time. The article, written by Jay Cocks, said The Who had "outpaced, outlasted, outlived and outclassed" all of their rock band contemporaries.


Decline and breakup

The band released two studio albums with Jones as drummer, Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard (1982). Face Dances produced a US top twenty and UK top ten hit with the single "You Better You Bet" and a string of MTV and AOR hits like "Another Tricky Day". Three videos from the album played on MTV the day it took to the air in August 1981. While both albums sold fairly well and It's Hard received a five-star review in Rolling Stone, some fans were not receptive to the new sound. "Athena" was a US top thirty hit and "Eminence Front" charted as well and became a favorite. However Townshend's life was a mess - his marriage had fallen apart due to his drinking and he had become a heroin user, something which shocked his friends due to his previous anti-drug stance. He cleaned up in early 1982, but Daltrey told him he would stop touring if it meant keeping Townshend alive. Shortly after It's Hard, The Who embarked on a farewell tour after Townshend said he wanted one more tour with The Who before turning it into a studio band. It was the highest grossing tour of the year, with sellout crowds in stadiums and arenas throughout North America.

Townshend spent part of 1983 trying to write material for the studio album still owed to Warner Bros. Records from a contract in 1980. By the end of 1983, however, Townshend declared himself unable to generate material appropriate for The Who and announced the breakup of the band in December. He then focused on solo projects such as White City: A Novel, The Iron Man (which featured Daltrey and Entwistle and two songs on the album credited to "The Who"), and Psychoderelict, a forerunner to the radio work Lifehouse.


On 13 July 1985, The Who—including Kenney Jones—reformed for a one-off at Bob Geldof's Live Aid concert at Wembleymarker. The BBC transmission truck blew a fuse at the beginning of "My Generation", meaning the picture was lost completely, but the band kept playing. This caused most of "My Generation" and all of "Pinball Wizard" to be missed by the rest of the world. Transmission resumed with "Love, Reign O'er Me" and "Won't Get Fooled Again".

In February 1988 the band was honoured with the British Phonographic Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award. The Who played a short set at the ceremony (the last time Jones worked with The Who). In 1989 they embarked on a 25th anniversary The Kids Are Alright reunion tour which emphasised songs from Tommy. Simon Phillips played drums with Steve "Boltz" Bolton playing lead guitar, as Townshend relegated himself to strumming acoustic guitar in order to protect his hearing. Townshend did play electric guitar for several songs in the latter non-Tommy half of the shows. A horn section and backing singers were also added. Newsweek said, "The Who tour is special because, after the Beatles and the Stones, they're IT." There were sellouts throughout North America, including a four-night stand at Giants Stadium. In all, over two million tickets were sold. The tour included Tommy at Radio City Music Hallmarker in New York and at the Universal Amphitheatremarker in Los Angeles, with several guest stars at the latter performance. A 2-CD live album Join Together was released in 1990, stalling at #188 in the US. A video of the Universal Amphitheatre show was also released and went platinum in the US.


Partial reunions

In 1990, their first year of eligibility, The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker by U2, Bono saying, "More than any other band, The Who are our role models." The Who's display at the Rock Hall describes them 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 of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" for a tribute album. This was the last time they released any studio work with Entwistle. In 1994 Daltrey turned 50 and celebrated with two concerts at Carnegie Hallmarker. These included guest spots by Entwistle and Townshend. Although all three surviving original members of The Who attended, they did not appear on stage together except for the finale, "Join Together", with the other guests. Daltrey toured that year with Entwistle and with John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, Zak Starkey on drums and Simon Townshend filling in for his brother. Pete Townshend allowed Daltrey to call this band The Who, but Daltrey declined. The live album recorded during these concerts, Daltrey Sings Townshend, was not a commercial success. Also in 1994 The Who released the box set Thirty Years of Maximum R&B.

Quadrophenia revival

In 1996 Townshend, Entwistle and Daltrey performed Quadrophenia with guest stars at a concert in Hyde Parkmarker. Starkey was the drummer. The performance was narrated by Phil Daniels who played Jimmy the Mod in the film. Despite technical difficulties the show was a success and led to a six-night residency at Madison Square Gardenmarker. Townshend played acoustic guitar exclusively. These shows were not billed as The Who. The success of the Quadrophenia shows led to a U.S. and European tour through 1996 and 1997. Townshend played mostly acoustic guitar, but also electric guitar on select songs. In 1998 VH1 ranked The Who ninth in their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Rock 'n' Roll.

In late 1999, The Who performed as a five-piece for the first time in concert since 1985, with Bundrick on keyboards and Starkey on drums. The first show took place 29 October 1999 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Gardenmarker. From there, they performed acoustic shows at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit at the Shoreline Amphitheatremarker in Mountain View, CAmarker on 30 and 31 October. Next, they played on 12 and 13 November at the House of Blues in Chicago, as a benefit for the Maryville Academy. Finally, two Christmas charity shows on 22 and 23 December at the Shepherds Bush Empiremarker in London. These were the first full-length concerts with Townshend playing electric guitar for the duration of the show since 1982. The 29 October show in Las Vegas was partially on TV as well as the internet and would later see release as the DVD The Vegas Job. Reviews for the shows were good.


Charity shows and Entwistle's death

The success of 1999 led to a U.S. tour in 2000 and a UK tour in November. The tour started on 6 June at the Jacob K.marker Javits Convention Centermarker in New York to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation and ended with a charity show on 27 November at the Royal Albert Hallmarker for the Teenage Cancer trust. With good reviews, all three members of The Who discussed a new album. Also that year, VH1 placed The Who eighth in the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. The band performed at The Concert for New York City on 20 October 2001, during which they played "Who Are You","Baba O'Riley", "Behind Blue Eyes", and "Won't Get Fooled Again" for the fire and police departments of New York City. The Who were also honoured with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award that year.

The Who played five shows in England in 2002; in Portsmouth on 27 and 28 January and Watford on 31 January, in preparation for two shows for the Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit at the Albert Hall on 7 and 8 February. These were Entwistle's last shows with The Who. On June 27, just before their US tour was due to commence, Entwistle was found dead at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. The cause was a heart attack in which cocaine was a contributing factor. After a brief delay, the tour commenced in Los Angeles with bassist Pino Palladino. Most shows from the tour were released officially on CD as Encore Series 2002. In September, Q magazine named The Who as one of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die". In November 2003, The Who landed seven albums in Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, more than any other artist with the exceptions of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

In 2004 The Who released "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 tour playing Japan, Australia, the UK and the U.S. All shows were released on CD as part of Encore Series 2004. The band also headlined the Isle of Wight Festival. Also that year, Rolling Stone ranked The Who #29 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Endless Wire

The Who announced that spring 2005 would see their first studio album in 23 years (tentatively titled WHO2). Townshend continued working on the album, however, and posted a novella called The Boy Who Heard Music on his blog. This developed into a mini-opera called Wire & Glass which formed the kernel for the new Who album, and later a full opera which Townshend presented at Vassar Collegemarker.

The Who performed on the London stage of the Live 8 concert in July 2005. The Who were also inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame that year. In 2006, The Who were first recipients of the Freddie Mercury Lifetime Achievement Award in Live Music at the Vodafone music awards.

Endless Wire was released on 30 October 2006 (31 October in the U.S.). It was the first full studio album of new material since 1982's It's Hard and contained the band's first mini-opera since "Rael" on 1967's The Who Sell Out. Endless Wire debuted at #7 on Billboard and #9 in the UK Albums Chart. On the eve of its release (29 October), The Who performed part of the mini-opera and several songs from the new album live as the closing act of the BBC Electric Proms at the Roundhouse in London.

In advance of the album, and to support it, The Who embarked upon their 2006-2007 tour. Shows were released on CD and DVD as part of Encore Series 2006. Starkey was invited to join Oasis in April 2006, and The Who in November 2006, but he declined, preferring to split his time between the two. On 24 June 2007, The Who topped the bill at the Glastonbury Festivalmarker.

Amazing Journey

Daltrey and Townshend, 2008 tour
In November 2007, the documentary Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who was released. The documentary includes footage not in earlier documentaries, including film from the 1970 Leeds University appearance and a 1964 performance at the Railway Hotel when they were The High Numbers. Amazing Journey was nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award.

The Who were honoured at the 2008 VH1 Rock Honors in Los Angeles. Taping of the show took place 12 July, followed by a network broadcast on 17 July. That same week, a 12-song best-of collection was released for the music video game Rock Band. The Who performed at the Rock Band party at the Orpheum Theater during the 2008 E3 Media and Business Summit. In October 2008, The Who embarked on a tour of four Japanese cities and nine North American cities. In December, The Who were recognised at the Kennedy Center Honors. After other musical celebrities performed their music, the finale was a surprise chorus of police and rescue first responders who had been touched by The Who's performance at The Concert for New York City after the shock of 9-11.

An Australia and New Zealand tour was completed in early 2009. In August, Townshend announced on The Who's website that he is working on a new musical titled Floss which follows the story of an aging rocker known as "Walter", some songs of which will debut on a new Who album proposed for 2010. Daltrey has announced that he plans to tour with The Who in 2010.

The National Football League announced during the November 26, 2009 CBS Sports broadcast of the Oakland Raiders-Dallas Cowboys game that The Who would perform at the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV at Dolphin Stadiummarker in Miami Gardens, Floridamarker on February 7, 2010.


The Who are one of the most influential rock groups of the 1960s and '70s. They have influenced bands such as Green Day, The Jam, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith,, Motley Crue, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Queen, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, Iron Maiden, Rush, The Clash,, U2 (with Bono calling U2 the "Heirs to The Who") and Pearl Jam (with Eddie Vedder saying, "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 Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Slash have cited Townshend's guitar work as an influence.

The Who's Mod genesis inspired bands of the Britpop wave in the mid-1990s, such as Blur, Oasis, and Ash.

The Who have been called "The Godfathers of Punk", due to their loud, aggressive approach to rock and the snotty attitude evinced in songs like "My Generation." The Stooges, MC5, Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Green Day, and many other punk rock and protopunk rock bands, point to The Who as influence.

The group has been credited with devising the "rock opera" and it made one of the first notable concept albums. Following Tommy were David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis and Pink Floyd's The Wall in the 1970s. Later efforts in the rock opera vein include My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade and Green Day's American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown releases.

Pete Townshend 2007
In 1967 Townshend coined the term "power pop" to describe The Who's sixties singles. The guiding lights of the seventies power pop movement, from the Raspberries to Cheap Trick, take inspiration from The Who. The Who's influence can also be seen in early incorporation of synthesizers, with Who's Next featuring the instrument prominently.

"My Generation" is the band's most covered song. Iron Maiden, Oasis, Sweet, Pearl Jam, Patti Smith, Green Day, McFly, Hawk Nelson, Di-Rect and Hilary Duff have recorded it. Oasis used it as their closer during the 2005 tour. The Zimmers, "the world's oldest rock band", made a tongue-in-cheek version as their first single, a hit in Britain. David Bowie covered "I Can't Explain", "Pictures of Lily" and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere". The Sex Pistols, the Ramones and Great White covered "Substitute" which was also played by a combined Silverchair and Powderfinger on their joint Across The Great Divide tour in 2007. The Jam and The Breeders have covered "So Sad About Us". The Shadows have done an instrumental medley of "Pinball Wizard" and "See Me Feel Me" on their 1973 album Rockin' with Curly Leads.

The Clash incorporated the riff of "I Can't Explain" into "Clash City Rockers" and "Guns on the Roof". Pearl Jam performed "Baba O'Riley" and "The Kids Are Alright" during tours in the 1990s and 2000s. Pearl Jam also played songs such as "Leaving Here", "Blue, Red, & Grey", "Love, Reign O'er Me", "The Real Me" and "Naked Eye". German band Scorpions covered "I Can't Explain" while W.A.S.P. covered "The Real Me". Van Halen covered "Won't Get Fooled Again" on their 1993 live album Live: Right Here, Right Now, describing it as "a tribute to The Who" and in 1995, Phish covered Quadrophenia for their second Halloween tradition of performing another band's album, which was released as Live Phish Volume 14. Phish continued to cover "Drowned" in live performances. The Grateful Dead covered "Baba O'Riley" in the early 1990s, as did Nirvana and Mr. Big. "Baba O'Riley" was also covered by Dropkick Murphys during their tour, "All Roads Lead to Boston" in 2009. Rush covered "The Seeker" on their 2004 "Feedback" EP and live during their R30 tour that same year. The Foo Fighters covered "Bargain" and "Young Man Blues" (itself a cover of Mose Allison's original) on tour.

McFly covered "Pinball Wizard" for the B-side to their 2005 single "I'll Be OK", and played the song on their 2005 tour. Fish (ex Marillion) covered "The Seeker" during his Songs from the Mirror period. The Smithereens covered "The Seeker" on the album, Live, and released it as a single. They released The Smithereens Play Tommy in 2009. Green Day played "A Quick One, While He's Away" on their 2009 tour. The Beatles played it during their Get Back sessions. Alice in Chains and Tenacious D played acoustic versions of "Squeeze Box". Many other artists, ranging from Buddy Rich to Richard Thompson to U2 to Petra Haden (who covered The Who Sell Out in its entirety), have covered Who songs.

The music of The Who is still performed by tribute bands, such as Bargain, My Generation, The Ohm, The Relay, The Substitutes, Townzen in Japan, The Whodlums (UK), The Wholigans, The Who Show, Who-Dunnit, Who's Next USA, Who's Next UK, Who's Who UK. All three versions of the American forensic drama CSI (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY) feature songs written and performed by The Who as theme songs, "Who Are You", "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley" respectively. The CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men once did a brief CSI spoof called Stiffs with the theme song "Squeeze Box". In the Fox drama House Hugh Laurie can also be seen playing piano to "Baba O'Riley".


Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend in 1976

The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker in 1990, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and won the first annual Freddie Mercury Lifetime Achievement in Live Music Award in 2006. They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1988, and from the Grammy Foundation in 2001, for creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.

Tommy was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998, "My Generation" in 1999 and Who's Next in 2007. My Generation was selected for preservation in the USA's National Recording Registry in 2009.

At the 31st annual awards ceremony on 7 December 2008, Townshend and Daltrey received Kennedy Center Honors; the first rock band to be so honored.

Band members

Current members.

Former Members:

Touring Members:


See also


  1. Two Rock Legends, Basking in the VH1 Spotlight. Retrieved on 22 October 2008.
  2. Monterey Pop Festival at Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  3. MTV
  4. Time Magazine
  5. BRIT Awards
  6. Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards
  7. The Who Kennedy Center Honors
  8. BBC
  9. Rock and Roll: A Social History
  10. The Marquee Club
  11. 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock 'n' Roll
  12. Local DJ - A Rock 'n' Roll History
  13. The Rolling Stone Interview: Pete Townshend
  14. The Who. Sanctuary Group, Artist Management. Retrieved on 3 January 2007.
  15. Spitz, Bob (1979). Barefoot In Babylon: The Creation of the Woodstock Music Festival. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 462 ISBN 0-393-30644-5.
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  17. Woodstock: The Who vs. Abbie Hoffman
  18. The Who Cement Their Place in Rock History
  19. Pete's Equipment | Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 | Whotabs | Pete Townshend
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  27. The Who Concerts Guide 1989
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  29. List of Grammy Lifetime Awards and the years they were given.
  30. Cocaine 'killed The Who star' BBC News
  31. The Who Gets 'Rock Honors' in Los Angeles
  32. Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell Pay Tribute to the Who at Kennedy Center
  33. Pete Townshend Writing New Musical, Songs Headed for Who LP
  34. Green Day at Allmusic
  36. Black Sabbath at Allmusic
  37. Aerosmith at Allmusic
  38. Kiss at Allmusic
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  43. Van Halen at Allmusic
  44. Lynyrd Skynyrd at Allmusic
  45. Styx at Allmusic
  46. Iron Maiden at Allmusic
  47. Rush at Allmusic
  48. Mick Jones Rhapsody interview
  49. McCormick (2006), U2 by U2 page 113
  50. McCormick (2006), U2 by U2 page 147
  51. Pearl Jam at Allmusic
  52. Substitute: The Songs of The Who CD liner notes
  53. Eddie Van Halen Designs a Guitar to Get Closer to the Fans
  54. "Can You See the Real Me?: Pete Townshend" by David Wright
  56. Guardian
  57. Oasis at Allmusic
  58. Britpop Roots and Influences
  59. The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll
  60. The Stooges at Allmusic
  61. MC5 at Allmusic
  62. Joey Ramone interview for Entertainment Weekly
  63. The Sex Pistols First Interview
  64. The Clash at Allmusic
  65. Green Day talks to SPIN
  66. rock'sbackpageslibrary
  67. PopMatters interview with Eric Carmen
  68. Acoustic Sounds Inc
  69. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  70. UK Music Hall of Fame
  71. Grammy Hall of Fame
  72. Etta James, The Who make National Recording Registry


  • Marsh, Dave (1983). Before I Get Old: The Story of The Who. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-07155-8.

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