The Who – General Introduction

The Shepherds Bush Boys As We Know And Love Them

The Shepherd's Bush Boys As We Know And Love Them

Dave Marsh defines The Who as “a band with four leaders”. That is very accurate. And it is even more accurate to define them as “a band with four explosive leaders”. Their lineup was unique. They were constantly at odds. They were constantly together. And they made music which strikes so deep a chord with whomever is listening that he feels as if he has known the guys all his life.

You probably know their names, but just in case… Pete Townshend was the main composer and occasional singer, and sometimes I agree with John Alroy – The Who were his backing band. And sometimes he was also backing them. It worked both ways. The lead singer was Roger Daltrey. He was also the band’s founder. The band was originally called The Detours. He would recruit one of Pete’s friends before recruiting the mercurial guitar player himself. That was no other than John Entwistle. He was an accomplished musician, and the one and only band member who had studied music. In addition to playing bass, he could play horns with distinction. The final member was Keith Moon, a stellar drummer who did for the drums what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar.

That was the original lineup. When Keith tragically died of an overdose in 1978, he was replaced by Kenny Jones, the erstwhile Small Faces and Faces drummer. I must admit I find him a superb player, but no-one could have replaced Keith. In the recent bio pic “Amazing Journey”, he says as much when asked who the right drummer for The Who was. No such a thing exists. The drummer for The Who was Keith. Period.

After recording two albums with Kenny Jones, The Who called it a day… for a while. They would regroup for endless reunion tours, testing the patience of many. They are still playing together, even after John Entwistle passed away in the year 2002. They even released a new studio album in 2006. It is quite listenable, but I hope it is the last one. Not because it is bad, but because it brought a thematic sense of closure, and because The Who without Keith and without John is just a chimera.

I am making several posts about The Who. I will discuss all their albums, their appeal as time went by, and also discuss some issues such as their decision to carry on without Keith Moon. I am likewise reviewing some books about them, and the bio pics that were released.

They are the most fulfilling band I know. They make you smile, laugh and ponder in equal measures. They had such a chemistry with those who followed them, and I would say that chemistry let Pete articulate problems that people could identify with so instantly. They bond with you. And their best music goes with you for life.