Blog #3: Who Are The Who?

When you think British invasion in the 60s, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones probably come to mind. Another band that would become part of the British rock club was The Who. They formed in 1964 (evolving from another hard rock London-based band called Detour) and became a huge success in the UK. The band consisted of Pete Townshend as guitarist and main songwriter, Roger Daltrey on lead vocals, John Entwistle on bass, and Keith Moon on drums. They initially started out as a mod band, playing R&B songs, but went on to become a unruly rock band famous for smashing instruments during their sets. Their debut album, My Generation, is illustrative of this era, and the single of the same name reached No.2 on the UK charts. One of the most well known lyrics from the song is “I hope I die before I get old,” which Townshend has once said by old, he meant “very rich.”

The song still has those R&B influences, such as the “call and response” style of verse, where Daltrey would sing a line, and the backup would answer “Talkin’ ’bout my generation.”

Then, in 1969, The Who performed at Woodstock, and their presence in the United States was cemented. They performed most of their fourth album, Tommy, which was a rock opera. The album was highly influential and was acclaimed by critics. The Who performed at the Met as part of their tour. The album was praised for being just straight up hard rock.

One of my favorite albums after their first, is their fifth studio album, Who’s Next, which features the hit singles “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, and “Baba O’Reilly.” The former song was recorded in Mick Jagger’s house. This album was praised for its ability to fully integrate the synthesizer into the music, rather than just insert it. Townshend said he wanted to do something new after the success of Tommy, and not just create another rock opera album just because it did well. He went for a straight-forward hard rock album, and the results were fantastic.

I think this performance just says everything about The Who, especially in their prime. Great vocals, amazing drumming, excellent lead bass. They epitomized rock, and put on a great show that I can only wish I’d seen live.