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The Who

Biography

More than any band before them, the Who transformed rock 'n' roll into the weapon of choice for the generation gap struggles of the 1960s. Playing up tensions between young and old in teen anthems "My Generation," "The Kids Are Alright," and a cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues," this combativeness quickly became the band's hallmark. Roger Daltrey's perilous mic-swinging, Pete Townshend's ill-tempered guitar-smashing, and Keith Moon's "gonzo" drumming all bolstered the band's thuggish, working-class youth image -- and suggested it was more than image. As Mod's heyday waned, Townshend began pushing the band in more adventurous directions, which culminated in the first proper rock opera, Tommy (1969). In one fell swoop, the band upgraded their standing from "average Joes" to intelligentsia. Emboldened by Tommy's success, Townshend's songwriting became increasingly self-centered and confessional. While "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Love, Reign O'er Me" are simply sublime, much of the Who's '70s material is bogged down by the band's internal conflicts and Townshend's downward spiral into alcohol and drug abuse. The public began to feel that the band had simply overstayed its welcome. Fans had a hard time forgiving the spokesmen of angry youth for getting old, and the band seems to have had a difficult time forgiving themselves.
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