The Who

Who, TheFrom: London, England

One of the biggest and most successful bands of all-time, the Who formed in 1964 with original members Roger Daltrey (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals, keyboards), and John Entwistle (bass, brass, vocals). Keith Moon (drums, vocals) would join the band shortly after. Known for their energetic live performances, often which included the destruction of instruments, the Who have sold about 100 million records. The band also has 27 Top 40 singles in the UK and America, along with 17 Top 10 albums.

Influenced by American R&B and skiffle music, school friends Townshend and Entwistle formed a Dixieland jazz band called the Confederates in 1962. Townshend played banjo and Entwistle played the French horn. While walking down a street in London, Roger Daltrey met Entwistle who had a bass guitar slung over his shoulder. Daltrey asked Entwistle to join his band, the Detours, which had formed in 1961. Entwistle agreed, and after a few weeks, suggested adding Townshend as an additional guitarist. The Detours also included Doug Sandom (drums) and Colin Dawson (vocals). Dawson’s departure saw Daltrey take over as lead vocalist. With the encouragement of Entwistle, Townshend became the band’s sole guitarist at this time. The Detours sought a contract, but the common consensus was that they needed a better drummer. Also, in order to compete with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, it was suggested that the band begin to write their own songs. In 1964, Sandom left the band, and in order to fulfill contractual obligations, the band hired a session drummer for the rest of their scheduled gigs. On one of the evenings they performed, Daltrey was approached by Keith Moon about their open position for a drummer, saying “I hear you’re looking for a drummer. Well, I’m better than the one you’ve got.” After accidentally smashing the drum kit he used for his audition, Moon was invited to join the band.

In February 1964, the band decided to change their name once Entwistle heard of another band that was also name the Detours. Townshend initially suggested they be called the Hair, but they changed their name to The Who on Valentine’s Day. The name came from a suggestion by Townshend’s roommate Richard Barnes. For a very brief period time in the summer of ’64, the band changed their name to the High Numbers, and released the single “Zoot Suit” / “I’m The Face.” This an attempt to appeal to the mod fans, as suggested by their manager Peter Meaden. When the single failed to chart, the band went back to being the Who. Meaden was then replaced by the team of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp.

Although the Who had a strong local following, they still needed and edge that would allow them to separate themselves from the plethora of ambitious bands in the London music scene. In June 1964, the band played at the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone, and Townshend accidently broke the head of his guitar through the low ceiling. The crowd began to chuckle, angering Townshend who proceeded to smash his guitar on the stage. He picked up another guitar and continued playing. About a week later, the Who played the same venue. Townshend had run out of guitars to smash so he decided to topple the stack of Marshall amplifiers. Moon also destroyed his drum kit at this show. The Who had developed their “gimmick,” something that would separate them from the rest. That moment at the Railway Hotel is one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Producer Shel Talmy worked with several of the up-and-coming acts in the country, including the Who. Talmy produced the Who’s first single in 1965, “I Can’t Explain.” This was also the band’s first hit, reaching the Top 10 in the UK. The follow-up single was “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” credited to Townshend and Daltrey. The early UK singles were released on Brunswick Records, a part of American Decca. The British Decca label had rejected the band when they auditioned, however, they still pressed and distributed American Decca product in England. Lambert and Stamp did not approve of the contract that Talmy had made with Decca, and took advice on how to “break the contract.” This lead to acrimony between the Who and the producer, carrying on for several decades. The Who were then signed to Robert Stigwood’s Reaction Label, where they released their next single, “Substitute.” Lambert and Stamp formed their own record label Track Records, in 1967. They signed Jimi Hendrix for its first release, and, distributed by Polydor, became the Who’s output until the mid-1970s.

The Who released their debut album in late 1965. My Generation (The Who Sings My Generation in the US) included “The Kids Are Alright” and “My Generation,” that later of which was one of the first songs with a bass solo. In 1966, the Who had success with singles like “Substitute,” “I’m A Boy,” and “Happy Jack.” In 1967, the band released the hit single “Pictures of Lily.” All of these singles were written by Townshend, and each addressed the themes of sexual tension and teenage angst.

The band had found success as a singles band, however, Townshend wanted the albums to be more unified opposed to just a collection of songs. Initially, “I’m A Boy” was supposed to be on the Who’s second album, A Quick One (Happy Jack in the US), but Townshend removed it. He was hoping for a rock opera, and the song did not fit in with this concept. The album contained “A Quick One While He’s Away,” which the band called a rock opera. The song’s most famous live performance was at the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. Other acts performed sub-par renditions of their material, and had rotten tomatoes thrown at them by crowd members. The Who, however, were successful, and received a proper applause from the audience.

The band’s next album was The Who Sell Out, a concept album released in 1967 about an offshore radio station. The Who Sell Out included the Who’s biggest US single, “I Can See For Miles,” as well as another attempt at a rock opera in “Rael.” When the band played at the Monterey Pop Festival, they destroyed more equipment, and repeated the routine on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Townshend claimed that the event was the start of his tinnitus. For the show, Moon’s drum kit had been loaded with an excessive amount of explosives, and the resulting explosion was far more powerful than anyone anticipated. Moon himself was surprised by the explosion.

In 1968, the Who released the “Magic Bus” single and album. The album included a number of songs that were released on both A Quick One and The Who Sell Out, and is therefore not considered a true album release by the band. Also in 1968, Pete Townshend was the subject for the first interview for Rolling Stone. In the interview, Townshend stated that he was working on a full-length rock opera. This would end up being Tommy, a landmark in modern music. India’s Meher Baba became a major influence on Townshend’s songwriting, something that continued for many years. Baba is credited on Tommy as “Avatar.” Tommy was the story of a “deaf, dumb, and blind kid,” and his journey through life. Life magazine once said  “… for sheer power, invention and brilliance of performance,Tommy outstrips anything which has ever come out of a recording studio,” and Melody Maker agreed, saying “Surely The Who are now the band against which all others are to be judged.” The album was released in 1969.

The Who performed at Woodstock in 1969, famously insisting they be paid before they went on stage. Once they did go on stage, they played a large portion of Tommy. During their performance Abbie Hoffman and Michael Lang sat on the stage. During a lull in the Who’s set, Hoffman ran and grabbed a microphone and yelled out “I think this is a pile of shit, while John Sinclair rots in prison!” John Sinclair had been given a 10-year sentence for passing two marijuana cigarettes to an undercover narcotics officer. Townshend was far from pleased with Hoffman, cursing him profusely, and hitting him in the head with his guitar.

The 1970s were very kind to the Who. The band released a number of top quality albums and some of their biggest hits. In 1970, they released the classic live album Live At Leads, cementing themselves as one of the greatest live bands. Other key albums of the ’70s include Who’s Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), The Who By Numbers (1975), and Who Are You (1978). Who Are You became the Who’s biggest and fastest selling album to date. However, the success of the album was overshadowed by the passing of Keith Moon. Moon died in his sleep on September 7, 1978 after an overdose of Heminevrin – prescribed to combat alcohol withdrawal. Kenny Jones of the Small Faces and the Faces was brought in as the new drummer. In 2002, John Entwistle was found dead at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, passing away of a heart attack brought on by cocaine. The Who continue to tour today, something that causes much controversy amongst music lovers.

Artist information sources include – Wikipedia

Feel free to use our Facebook page to discuss & ask any questions you have about this artist, a fellow PsycheHead is sure to have the answer.

Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1965 album My Generation
My Generation

  • I Can’t Explain [2002 Bonus Track]
  • Instant Party (Circles)
  • My Generation

From the 1966 album A Quick One (Happy Jack)
A Quick One (Happy Jack)

  • A Quick One, While She’s Away
  • Boris The Spider
  • Cobwebs And Strange
  • Don’t Look Away
  • Happy Jack
  • Heat Wave
  • I Need You
  • Man with Money [2008 Bonus Track]
  • Run Run Run
  • So Sad About Us
  • Whiskey Man

From the 1967 album The Who Sell Out
Who Sell Out, The

  • Armenia City In The Sky
  • Early Morning Cold Taxi
  • Hall Of The Mountain King
  • I Can See For Miles
  • I Can’t Reach You
  • Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand
  • Odorono
  • Our Love Was
  • Rael 1 & 2
  • Relax
  • Sunrise
  • Tattoo

From the 1968 album Magic Bus
Magic Bus

  • Disguises
  • Doctor Doctor
  • Magic Bus
  • Pictures of Lily

From the 1969 album Tommy

  • 1921
  • Amazing Journey
  • Christmas
  • Cousin Kevin
  • I’m Free
  • Overture^It’s A Boy
  • Pinball Wizard
  • Sally Simpson
  • Sensation
  • Smash The Mirror
  • The Acid Queen
  • There’s A Doctor^Go To The Mirror
  • Tommy Can You Hear Me?
  • Tommy’s Holiday Camp
  • We’re Not Gonna Take It
  • Welcome

From the 1971 compilation Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy

  • I’m A Boy
  • Substitute
  • The Seeker

From the 1996 album The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, The

  • A Quick One While She’s Away


  • BBC Radio One Promo
  • Coke Spot #1 (Coke After Coke)
  • Coke Spot #2 (Things Go Better)
  • Great Shakes Spot
  • Jaguar
  • John Mason Cars
  • Top Gear
  • US Air Force Promo