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The Who

One of the most distinctive and artistically noteworthy bands to come out of the British Invasion, The Who have nonetheless been plagued for most of their career by conflict, tragedy, and a much-criticized penchant for financially driven reunions. In 1962, London high-school buddies Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, who had previously played together in a Dixieland band, joined a group called The Detours, which featured a vocalist named Roger Daltrey. The arrival of wild-man drummer Keith Moon completed the canonical lineup of a band that came to epitomize the Mod style and attitude. Such hit singles as "My Generation" and "I Can't Explain" arrived in 1965 after many struggles -- and after Townshend's bout of frustration with a London club's sound system led him to smash his guitar onstage, leading to what was to become one of the group's most noteworthy performance shticks. Townshend's innovative songwriting led to such breakthroughs as Tommy, considered the first successful rock opera, and a host of other concept albums including Quadrophenia, but his growing obscurity often alienated his bandmates. Moon's death from a drug overdose in 1978 was a major blow, and after 11 fans were trampled to death at a Who concert in Cincinnati in 1979, the band began a disintegration from which it never really recovered. Townshend continued to write, while battling substance-abuse problems, and the surviving members periodically regrouped for reunion tours. On the eve of the most recent such outing, in September 2002, Entwistle was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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