The Who | Artist

The Who | Artist

Tags: Era_1960s, Gender_Male, Genre_Pop_Rock, Origin_UK, Type_Artist

The Who is an English rock band formed 1964 in Shepherd's Bush, London, by Roger Daltrey (vocals), Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals), John Entwistle (bass, brass) and Keith Moon (drums, vocals). Keith died in 1978 and was replaced by Kenney Jones from The Faces, and later by Ringo's son Zac Starkey. John Entwistle died in 2002 and was later replaced by Pino Palladino. Roger, Pete, and John grew up in Acton and went to Acton County Grammar School. Roger, who was in the year above, had trouble at school, was expelled at 15 and found work on a building site. In 1959 Roger started the Detours, the band which evolved into the Who. Still at school, Townshend and Entwistle formed a trad jazz group, with Pete playing guitar and John playing bass and French Horn. In mid 1961 Pete and John joined Roger in the Detours and the band began playing gigs and wedding functions. Stylistically, the Detours were influenced by Johnny Kidd the Pirates, who also had a single guitarist, Mick Green, inspiring Townshend to combine rhythm and lead guitar in his style. Entwistle's bass became more of a lead instrument, playing melodies. As there was already a Johnny Devlin and the Detours, Daltry & Co. changed their name to The Who and gigged regularly at pubs around London. When the band fired their original drummer, they auditioned stand-in Keith Moon, who grew up in Wembley, and had been in bands since 1961. Moon played a few songs with the group, breaking a bass drum pedal and tearing a drum skin, but the band were so impressed with his energy and enthusiasm, they offered him the job. Now getting serious, the band hired publicist Peter Meaden as their manager. He renamed them the High Numbers, dressed them up in mod clothes, secured an audition with Fontana Records, and wrote the lyrics for their first single "Zoot Suit"/"I'm the Face". Meaden decided that the group would be ideal to represent the growing mod movement in Britain which involved fashion, scooters and music genres such as rhythm and blues, soul and modern jazz. When the record flopped, the band fired Meaden, changed their name back to the Who and engaged two filmmakers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp as their new management team. In August 1964, Lambert and Stamp made a promo film featuring the group and their audience at the Railway Hotel Wealdstone. The band were now playing soul, rhythm and blues and Motown covers, and created the slogan "Maximum R&B." By late 1964, the Who were popular in London's Marquee Club, and a rave review of their act appeared in Melody Maker. Lambert and Stamp attracted the attention of American producer Shel Talmy, who had produced the Kinks. Talmy was impressed by the group and signed them to Brunswick Records, the US arm of Decca. "I Can't Explain" was recorded in early November 1964 at Pye Studios in Marble Arch with Jimmy Page played fuzz guitar on the B-side, "Bald Headed Woman". The group gained exposure when they appeared on the television programme Ready Steady Go! The single climbed the charts in early 1965, reaching the top 10. In early 1965, the Who made their first appearance on the television music show, Top of the Pops. The follow-up single, "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", reached the top 10 in the UK and was used as the theme song to Ready Steady Go! The next single, "My Generation", followed in October. The song used gimmicks such as a vocal stutter to simulate the speech of a mod on amphetamines. Peaking at No. 2, "My Generation" is the group's highest-charting single in the UK. The debut album My Generation was released in late 1965. Among original material by Townshend, including the title track and "The Kids Are Alright", the album has several James Brown covers from earlier sessions. The Who's recorded output over the following decade 1965-75 contains some of the greatest rock music ever recorded. They were also one of the greatest live rock bands, with legendary performances at Woodstock, Monterey, Isle of Wight and Fillmore East. As a recording outfit the Who weren't prolific, only releasing 10 studio albums up until 1982, then 2 more late period albums. But add to this some magnificent live albums, plus a long list of classic singles. Standout albums include My Generation (1965), The Who Sell Out (1967), Tommy (1969), Live at Leeds (1970), Who's Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), and The Who by Numbers (1975). Also essential are the soundtrack The Kids Are Alright (1979), the archival compilations Live at the Isle of Wight (1996), and BBC Sessions (2000), and the compilation Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (1971). Townshend composed much of The Who's work, including their groundbreaking rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus he has many fine solo albums to his credit. Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle also have several solo albums each. The Who are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century. Their contributions to rock music include the development of the Marshall stack, large PA systems, the use of synthesizers, Entwistle and Moon's influential playing styles, Townshend's feedback and power chord guitar technique, and the development of the rock opera. They are cited as an influence by many hard rock, punk, power pop and mod bands. The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

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Featured Albums: The Who

Related Artists: Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Roger Daltrey

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