The Who started off as the Detours and had a drummer named Doug Sandom. After an argument with Pete, Doug quit the band. Keith Moon then joined and the sound and the band took off. They found the member to complete one of the best bands to emerge from the sixties. They were the band of the Mods and wore British Flags, target shirts, and other Pop Art attire.
Controlled chaos is the best way I know how to describe the Who’s early singles. My favorite rhythm section in Rock and Roll… John Entwistle and Keith Moon were all over the place but they were all over the place together. What John and Keith gave musically cannot be underestimated. They were the engine that made The Who go…Pete Townshend coined the phrase “power pop” and they were the ultimate power pop band. Roger Daltrey was transformed from a good blues singer to a rock god. They released several classic albums… Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, Tommy, and Live at Leeds., The Who Sell Out…
The Who along with the Kinks were the forerunners of Punk. The Who’s early singles were raw and driving Can’t Explain, My Generation, Substitute, The Kids Are Alright, Pictures of Lily, I’m a Boy, and I Can See For Miles…
They moved from those early raw songs and released albums with songs such as Won’t Get Fooled Again, Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, Love Reign O’er Me, Who Are You, Bargain. The Real Me, We’re Not Going to Take It, and 5:15
Pete took the rock concept album to an art form.
When they were at their performing peak they were untouchable. Check out the album or DVD of Live at the Isle of Wight Festival.
Their peer at that time had a great rhythm section, a great guitarist and a dynamic lead singer…Led Zeppelin. The Who were not as popular and they didn’t sell as many records as Led Zeppelin but The Who were fun… they more inviting.
They were the complete package. They had a good songwriter (Entwistle) in the band…and a great one (Pete). If you look at lists and influences… 10 ten rock drummers, top ten rock bassists etc..all of the Who come up in their respective category.
Led Zeppelin made the right choice in not replacing John Bonham. The Who decided to go on without Moon and were never the same again without Moon. Some of their songs were good afterward but they did not have the drive and spirit that Moon gave them and they were not complete without him.
I’ve never found a band other than the Beatles that moved me as much. Pete’s songs are high energy with a dash of spirituality.
I will revisit the Who again and coming up soon I’m going to attempt to rank the Who albums.