I have always been a big Who fan from the first time I heard them in my cousin’s bedroom in Dagenham, Essex at the age of 12. He had just bought a copy of the Who 45 ‘ My Generation ‘ which became one of the defining songs of the 60s.
I love the power and the violence bursting out of that song and the stuttered voice only added to the tension. It shot up to the top of the charts in England and around the world and became an anthem for the young.
Earlier that year 1965 the Who had released two other singles ‘ I Can’t Explain ‘ and ‘ Anyway Anyhow Anywhere ‘ both explosive songs with memorable Townsend guitar parts. The classic ‘ My Generation ‘ album was to follow with brilliant cover versions and Townsend originals like ‘ A Legal Matter ‘ and ‘ The Kids Are Alright ‘ This was the first of a long line of important rock albums from the band.
The group in England always had a big mod following and were always a great live band with members Keith Moon on drums who was in a class of his own and totally irreplaceable just like Zeppelin’s John Bonham. On guitar Pete Townsend was to turn into a great songwriter but not the greatest lead guitarist in the world like Hendrix or Clapton but was completely locked into Keith Moon on each Who song and was exciting to watch. They would both smash~up their guitars, speakers and drums at the end of each live performance and would both leave the stage in chaos and destruction.
John Entwistle on bass also known as ‘ The Ox ‘ was the glue which kept this group in time a very talented bass player who played his instrument like a lead guitar and was very loud with the treble control full on! On vocals ace ~ face Roger Daltrey was full of aggression and attitude having many famous fallouts with Townsend along the way but as a singer he just got better and better as the years when on especially live.
The Who would become one of the best live bands around in the late 60’s early 70’s and I love their performance on the Stones ‘ Rock & Roll Circus ‘ where their stole the show with their mini opera ‘ A Quick One While He’s Away ‘ and let’s not forget the stunning Woodstock performance.
” I’m a substitute for another guy, I look pretty tall but my heels are high, the simple things you see are all complicated, I look pretty young but I’m just backdated “
The biggest album that the band ever had ‘ Who‘s Next ‘ from 1971 which doesn’t have a bad track on it! but well worth a listen is the 1967 release ‘A Quick One ‘
After the huge success of ‘ Tommy ‘ probably the most overlooked album is the double ‘ Quadrophenia ‘ from ’73 with great songs like ‘5:15 ‘ ‘ The Real Me ‘ and ‘ Love Reign Over Me ‘ and don’t miss the movie if you haven’t seen it with a young Sting in a starring role, made in mod heaven Brighton.
The group was never the same after the album ‘ Who Are You ‘ and the death of Keith Moon but Kenney Jones was brought in to fill the drum spot and the group made a spirited go of things in the 80’s and the hits kept on coming.
In the later years Ringo’s son Zak has been a good substitute laying down a rock steady drum beat, you can see him on the excellent Royal Albert Hall DVD which is highly recommended.
In 1990 The Who was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and following the sad loss of bassist John Entwistle in 2002 the band is down to two original members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend who have admirably soldiered on and I am just putting this suggestion out there that maybe one day we might see Townsend on guitar and Daltrey on vocals join forces with Paul McCartney on bass and vocals and Ringo Starr on drums to record an album from a band that would be worth waiting for!
Meet the new boss ~ same as the old boss