Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Who are an English 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. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, their first year of eligibility. According to the New York Times, The Who have sold 100 million records.
The Who rose to fame in the United Kingdom with a pioneering instrument destruction stage show and a series of top ten hit singles (including "My Generation") and top five albums, beginning in 1965 with "I Can't Explain". They hit the top ten in the U.S. in 1967 with "I Can See for Miles". The 1969 release of Tommy was the first in a series of top five albums in the U.S., followed by Live at Leeds (1970), Who's Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), and Who Are You (1978).
Moon died in 1978, after which the band released two studio albums, the top five Face Dances (1981) and the 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. The plans were delayed by the death of Entwistle in 2002. Townshend and Daltrey continue to perform as The Who. In 2006 they released the studio album Endless Wire, which reached the top ten in the UK and U.S.
In the early 1960s, Townshend and Entwistle started a trad jazz band called The Confederates. Townshend played banjo and Entwistle played the French horn, an instrument he had started playing while in the school band. Daltrey met Entwistle walking down the street with a bass 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 Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, who saw the band play at the Railway Tavern, offering to manage them afterwards and buying 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.
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 first played in the USA by DJ Peter C Cavanaugh on WTAC AM 600 in Flint, Michigan, where Moon drove a car into a hotel pool on his 21st birthday. "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. More hits followed, including "I Can See for Miles" and the 1968 single "Magic Bus".
lthough 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 opus, 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, and which has been called the first progressive epic.
A Quick One was followed by The Who Sell Out in 1967, a concept album like an offshore radio station, complete with humorous jingles and commercials which included a mini rock opera called Rael (whose closing theme ended up on Tommy), as well as The Who's biggest U.S. single, "I Can See for Miles". The Who destroyed equipment at the Monterey Pop Festival that year and repeated the routine on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour with explosive results as Moon detonated his drumkit. Supposedly, too much explosive was used in the drum kit, resulting in damage to Townshend's hearing. In 1968, The Who headlined the first Schaefer Music Festival in New York City's Central Park. 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.
Around 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 Festival that year. That, and the ensuing film, catapulted The Who in the USA. Though the festival became free, the Who demanded to be paid before performing despite banks and roads being closed 2–3am on Sunday morning and only agreed to play when one of the promoters, Joel Rosenman, came up with a certified check for $11,200(the manager of White Lake branch of Sullivan County National Bank opened the bank so performers could be paid)
In February 1970 The Who recorded Live at Leeds, thought by many critics the best live rock album of all time. The album, originally relatively short and containing mostly the show's 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 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 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". On 4 November 1971 The Who opened the Rainbow Theatre in London and played for three nights.
Who's Next was followed by Quadrophenia (1973), which can be seen as an autobiographical or social history piece about early 1960s adolescent life in London. 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 Brighton. The U.S. tour started on 20 November 1973 at the San Francisco, California 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".
The band's later albums contained songs more personal for Townshend, and he transferred this style to solo albums, as on the album Empty Glass. 1975's The Who by Numbers had introspective songs, lightened by "Squeeze Box", another hit single. Nevertheless, 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 1976, The Who played at Charlton Athletic football ground in what was listed for over a decade in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's loudest concert.
In 1978, the band released Who Are You, a move from rock opera towards a radio-friendly sound, though it did contain one song from a never-completed rock opera by Entwistle. The release was overshadowed by Moon's death 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 Theatre in London, at the Cannes Film Festival in France and at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A small tour of the United States was marred by tragedy: on 3 December 1979 in Cincinnati, Ohio, a crush at Riverfront Coliseum killed 11 fans. The band was not told until after the show because civic authorities feared crowd problems if the concert were cancelled.
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. 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.
The band released two more studio albums with Jones as drummer, Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard (1982). Face Dances produced a US Top 20 hit 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 U.S. Top 30 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 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 Wembley. The band performed "My Generation", "Pinball Wizard", "Love Reign O'er Me", and "Won't Get Fooled Again". The band had also intended to play a new Townshend composition, "After the Fire", but were unable to learn it well enough; it became a solo hit for Daltrey that year. 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.
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 had massive hearing problems and would be relegated to strumming acoustic guitar. A horn section and backing singers were 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 Hall in New York and at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, with Elton John, Phil Collins, Billy Idol, Patti LaBelle, and Steve Winwood as guest stars. Townshend injured himself in Tacoma, WA when he gashed his hand during one of his windmill moves (he was playing more electric guitar in the latter half of shows). The tremolo bar pierced his hand and he was sent to the hospital.
A 2-CD live album Join Together was released in 1990, limping to #188 in the U.S. A video of the Universal Ampitheatre show was also released and went platinum in the U.S.
In 1990, their first year of eligibility, The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 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. Townshend toured in 1993 to promote his Psychoderelict album. One night Entwistle made a guest appearance at the end of the show. In 1994 there were rumours of a 30th anniversary tour. This never happened but Daltrey turned 50 and celebrated with two concerts at Carnegie Hall. These included guest spots by Entwistle and Townshend. Although 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.
In 1996 Townshend joined the lineup for a concert at Hyde Park. He intended to perform Quadrophenia as a solo acoustic piece using parts of the film on screens. However, faced with the enormity of the show, he decided to form another "big band" to play the piece. Entwistle and Daltrey agreed to a one-off performance. The band was augmented by Starkey, Rabbit on keyboards and Simon Townshend and Geoff Whitehorn on guitars. Jon Carin was an additional keyboard player, a horn section was added alongside backing vocalists and guests played characters from the album. These included David Gilmour, Ade Edmonson, newsreader Trevor McDonald and Gary Glitter. 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 Garden. These shows were not billed as The Who.
The success of the Quadrophenia shows led to a U.S. and European tour. Rabbit, Starkey, Simon and Carin remained for the shows. The show was reworked for the tour and included three Who standards as an encore. The show was billed under the members' names but later as The Who to aid ticket sales. Idol and Glitter played these dates.
The Who toured in the summer of 1997 with the same show, although they played five or six Who classics as encore instead of three. P.J. Proby and Ben Waters replaced Glitter and Idol. The European dates ranged from 23 April to 18 May, the U.S. from 19 July until 16 August. It was after this tour that Townshend admitted he had enjoyed it fully and he wanted to keep The Who as a semi-permanent unit from then on. Daltrey and Entwistle were delighted.
Townshend performed many acoustic shows, Entwistle mounted shows with The John Entwistle Band and Daltrey toured with the British Rock Symphony performing Who and other rock songs. In 1998, VH1 ranked The Who ninth in 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 Rabbit on keyboards and Starkey on drums and performed seven shows, all but one for charity. Many songs were from Who's Next; others had not been performed for 30 years. The first show took place 29 October 1999 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden. From there, they performed acoustic shows at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA 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. The first Chicago show was the first of the shows to be booked. Finally, two Christmas charity shows on 22 and 23 December at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London. For these Townshend was again playing electric guitar for the full show. 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.
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 Javits Center in New York to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation and ended with a charity show on 27 November at the Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer trust. With good reviews, all three members of The Who discussed a new album. 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.
In winter 2002, The Who played five shows in England; 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. Just before a tour in summer 2002, 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. Before the tour "Real Good Looking Boy" and "Certified Rose" were rehearsed alongside 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".
1.I Can't Explain
2.Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
4.Boris The Spider
6.I'm A Boy