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History of Rock 1/27/12

The Who

Becky Brown

on 13 February 2018

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Transcript of History of Rock 1/27/12

What do you think about performances
in which the artists destroy their
instruments? What is the purpose of that
type of destruction? What impact does it
have on the audience?
A Day in the Life of
The Who
Picture lead singer Roger Daltrey, resembling a perpetual-motion machine, commandeeering the stage for a two-hour athletic romp. Guitarist Pete Townshend slings his right arm in a gigantic windmill motion, striking his guitar to produce loud, crashing, ringing power chords that saturate the hall. Sometimes these blasts are accompanied by agile leaps as Townshend vaults across the stage. Drummer Keith Moon frantically thrashes at his drum kit, occasionally launching one of his drumsticks off a drumhead and toward the audience. This whirlwind surrounds bassist Jonh Entwistle, who stands as if anchored to the stage, motionless except for the blur of finger attack on the bass fret board.
This hypothetical set climaxes with the song "My Generation." After an extended solo, Townshend raises his guitar above his head and smashes it to pieces against the stage, jamming the remaining skeleton through the protective grill cloth and into his speaker cabinet. Squealing, tortured feedback wails from the speakers, sounding the instrument's death rattle. Daltrey swings his microphone by its cord in an ever increasing arc until it too smashes into the stage. Moon's bass drum has been set with a small charge of smoke-producing explosive, and it erups as he kicks it off the raised drum podium onto the stage. Standing behind his kit, Moon laughs maniacally at the smoldering pyre. Finally, Entwistle's throbbing bass ceases and the Who straggle offstage, just another day in the life.
The Who: An Overview
The Who have always been considered one of the most energetic and entertaining live bands in rock music history.
Even when compared to 1970s hard rock performances, with their displays of athletic prowess, explosive charges, and frantic energy, the Who hold their own.
The Beatles bobbed their heads and the Rolling Stones sold sex and spectacle, but the incredible power of the Who's live performances has overshadowed the extraordinarily thoughtful and musically interesting material that songwriter-guitarist Pete Townshend composed during the Who's twenty-five-year existence.
Of the three major British Invasion groups, the Who most directly and thoughtfully confronted the philosophical and political issues of the day. To Townshend, good rock music reflected important societal concerns and was a powerful vehicle for ideas.
The Who were influential and innovative--they developed and used the power-trio format, and also sowed the seeds of two important musical movements in the seventies: hard rock and punk.
The Who: A Beginning
The four original members of the Who began playing as"The Detours," changed their name to "The High Numbers" after their publicist suggested the it might help their popularity.
In 1964, they changed back to "The Who" and were playing regular gigs at local clubs. One night during the set, Pete accidentally bumped the neck of his guitar on the ceiling. He recalls that "it broke and it kinda shocked me cause I wasn't ready for it to go...I was expecting everybody to go 'Wow, he's broken his guitar,' but nobody did anything which made me kind of angry in a way and determined to get this precious event noticed by the audience. I proceeded to make a big thing out of breaking the guitar. I pounded all over the stage with it and I threw the bits on stage."
The next week, fans arrived expecting another guitar-smashing spectacle.
In 1964, the Who recorded "I Can't Explain," a Townshend original that peaked at #8 on the UK charts. Guitar feedback characterized their follow-up "Anyway, Anywhere, Anyhow."
Despite its mounting success, the band was in turmoil--Roger and Pete were locked in battle over leadership of the band and tensions were exacerbated by the band's drug and alcohol-fueled lifestyle.
The Who on the Rise
Released in 1965, "My Generation quickly rose to #3 on the British charts.
During 1966 and '67, the band consolidated its popularity in England with its auto-destruct live shows and a series of top-10 British singles: "Substitute," "Happy Jack," and "I Can See for Miles."
These songs represent a shift in Townshend's songwriting toward musical complexity and deeper lyrical meaning.
The Who won over America in 1967 with a series of powerful concerts, including the Monterey International Pop Festival and an appearance on the Smother's Brothers' tv show.
The Who: The Later Years
Townshend continued his commitment to writing rock songs that were somehow illuminating to audiences.
In 1968, he wrote "Tommy," the first rock opera, a story about a "deaf, dumb, and blind kid" who is traumatized by his father's death at the hands of his mother's lover.
The response to "Tommy" was almost universal acclaim.
The Who's appearance at Woodstock in 1969, though a personal nightmare for the band, was filled with brilliant images.
The Who had finally achieved critical and commercial success and were seen as artists, rather than auto-destruct kings.

Nirvana Live at the Reading Festival
The Who "I Can't Explain"
How does this song reveal early influences of American classic rock?
The Who "My Generation" and "I Can See for Miles"
How do these songs represent a musical shift in the band's songwriting?
The Who "Pinball Wizard" from
In what ways does
explore the boundaries of the rock genre?
Full transcript