The Who, a band recognized as one of the greatest rock bands of all time, has been inspiring fans for over 50 years with their imaginative and unique sound, controversial and moving lyrics, and energetic, one-of-a-kind performances. They are still relevant and influential today, as they were all those decades ago.
Their story starts in 1964 in the UK. The original line-up consisted of Roger Daltrey (born in 1944), John Entwistle (also born in 1944), Peter Townshend (born in 1945), and Keith Moon (born in 1946). Roger starred as the lead vocalist, John on bass and backing vocals, Pete on the guitar and backing vocals, and Keith on the drums. Their first big hit single, called ‘I Can’t Explain’ was released in January 1965.
The first album My Generation came out in December 1965, followed by A Quick One in 1966, The Who Sell Out in 1967, and Tommy, two years later, in 1969. Until this day, Tommy remains their most enduring creation. Soon they were touring all across Europe and made their American debut at The Brooklyn Fox Theatre.
Their fame grew, as well as the number of great albums such as Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, and The Who by Numbers. In the summer of 1978, they released probably their biggest and best-selling album Who Are You. Unfortunately, this success was overshadowed by the death of their drummer Keith Moon, who died from an accidental overdose just three weeks after the album’s release.
It took three years for them to release the next album, Face Dances in 1981 followed by It’s Hard in 1982, with Kenny Jones on drums. After the members, especially Townshend, became too weary of touring, the group split in 1983, getting together only on special occasions, such as Live Aid 1985, a 25th-anniversary tour in 1989, or a tour of Quadrophenia in 1996–1997. After the death of another original member, John Entwistle, their plans for a potential new album were delayed. Eventually, Daltrey and Townshend continued as The Who, releasing their final album Endless Wire, and touring with various musicians.
The Who’s biggest contributions to rock music include the development of the Marshall stack, use of the synthesizer, large PA systems, Moon’s and Entwistle’s lead playing styles, Townshend’s unique power chord guitar technique, and the creation of rock opera. They are constantly cited as an influence by bands of various genres from hard rock, punk rock, to mod bands. They have also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Who is also famous for their charitable work. For the past 25 years, the band has especially helped the Teenage Cancer Trust, raising 3 million pounds for specialist teenage cancer wards. Their concerts have become flagship events in Teenage Cancer Trust’s calendar. Their support of TCT in the UK is slowly spreading to America with the first unit opened in the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 2012. In 2019, Roger Daltrey opened a new Teen Cancer America Unit at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in South Carolina.
To cite Daltrey, “Every year Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall raises essential funds to support the charity’s work. I am incredibly proud of what we have already achieved and am inspired about what we will accomplish together.”
Truly, these are grand agents of positive change!