The Who

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
/wiki/The Whocreator
This guitar has seconds to live.

People try to put us d-down
Just because we g-get around
Things they do look awful c-c-cold
I hope I die before I get old

My Generation

Inside Outside / Leave me alone
Inside Outside / Nowhere is home
Inside Outside / Where have I been?
Out of my brain on the 5:15


The Who were a famous, groundbreaking rock band from Shepherd's Bush, London, England, known both for their many influential songs and for their pioneering of the art of instrument destruction. They were formed by guitarist Pete Townshend, who joined forces with lead vocalist Roger Daltrey, bassist John Entwistle and Crazy Awesome drummer Keith Moon. They are so influential that when people talk of the great rock bands of The British Invasion, it's often The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who in the same breath. But of the three, only The Who actually spawned a whole musical genre. Don't take our word for it: Johnny Rotten, Johnny Ramone, and Joe Strummer (to name only three) are on record as saying something like, "If not for The Who ..."

The group started out as the Detours in 1962 when classmates Townshend and Entwistle met Daltrey, then a high-school dropout working in a sheet metal factory. After beating around the bush for a while as a mod-rock act, changing their name to the High Numbers and then the Who, added Moon to the lineup in late 1964, and finally struck gold in 1965 with the singles "I Can't Explain", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" and the famous "My Generation". The album of the same name however was a rushed affair lacking in memorable work (though the American release was better). Guitarist and primary songwriter Pete Townshend had more ambition though, and included the 9-minute "mini-opera" "A Quick One, While He's Away" on the album A Quick One, which was released the next year(and also featured the single "Boris the Spider"), as a taste of things to come.

Their first breakthrough was the 1967 Concept Album The Who Sell Out, which included their biggest hit in the US, "I Can See for Miles". In 1968, Townshend became a convert to the teachings of Meher Baba, an Indian guru who preached a gospel of love, pantheism, and music as the key to understanding the universe. Inspired by his new religion, and the rejection of psychedelic drugs that it called for, Townshend wrote what many consider the Who's Magnum Opus - the famous Rock Opera Tommy in 1969, about a deaf, dumb and blind kid who "plays a mean pinball". The tour in support of this album, which took the band to Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival and often featured them performing Tommy in its entirety, established them as one of the most dynamic and exciting live acts of their day. Around this time Townshend conceived an epic project called Lifehouse, a story set in a Crapsack World led by an authoritarian government in which hundreds of people gather at a concert and ascend to a higher plane of existence through The Power of Rock. However he over-exerted himself this time, and miscommunication which even manager/co-producer Kit Lambert (who convinced the band about the Tommy concept) couldn't resolve killed the project until it resurfaced as a Townshend solo album in 2000. Instead, The Who regrouped in 1971 with producer Glyn Johns and reworked the songs written for Lifehouse to produce Who's Next. Who's Next reached #1 on the UK charts, #4 in the USA, was critically acclaimed (generally regarded as one of the best albums ever) and contains some of their best-known songs: "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Baba O'Riley" and "Behind Blue Eyes".

After a quick break, The Who recorded another Concept Album/Rock Opera, this time about a mentally ill teenager named Jimmy and his conflicts with his family and friends during the height of the mods-rockers conflict in the 1960s. Named Quadrophenia, it was released in 1973 to critical acclaim, and spawned another hit with the ballad "Love, Reign O'er Me". During the supporting tour a famous incident occurred on 20 November 1973 in San Francisco, when Keith Moon passed out twice during the performance due to tranquilizers (the put-to-sleep-large-animals kind of tranquilizers), the first time returning after a half-hour delay, and the second time he was carried off. After playing "See Me, Feel Me" with Daltrey on tambourine, Townshend asked "Can anybody play the drums? I mean someone good!" An audience member, Scot Halpin, filled in for the three-song encore and did a pretty good job. When interviewed by Rolling Stone, he noted: "I only played three numbers and I was dead".

The Who began faltering after this period, as a result of Keith Moon's addiction to drugs and alcohol and Townshend's depression, which resulted in 1975's bleak The Who By Numbers, full of songs about self-loathing, alcoholism, middle-age, and fear of irrelevance, lightened by the Top 10 hit "Squeeze Box". The same year a movie version of "Tommy" was released with an all-star cast under Ken Russell's direction. The move away from concept albums and epic rock operas continued with the stripped-down Who Are You, released in 1978, which again climbed up the charts (higher in the US than the UK) and spawned a hit single, "Who Are You".

However, one month after the album's release, Keith Moon died after accidentally overdosing on Heminevrin, a drug he had been prescribed to treat alcohol withdrawl. (He had taken to downing them by the dozen and mixing them with alcohol; 31 undigested pills were found in his stomach during his autopsy.) He was replaced by Kenney Jones of The Faces, who lacked Moon's characteristic hyperactive drumming style, with John "Rabbit" Bundrick unofficially added as the band's keyboardist, a position which Townshend (and occasionally Nicky Hopkins) had filled in the past. With Jones, they recorded two more albums: Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard (1982), which suffered from uninspired songwriting, the only notable songs being "You Better You Bet" and "Another Tricky Day" from the former, and "Athena" and "Eminence Front" from the latter. Finally, in December 1983, Townshend issued a public statement that The Who had disintegrated.

The Who first reunited for a one-off performance at Live Aid in 1985, where Kenney Jones was replaced with Simon Jones (no relation). A 1989 tour followed, where, citing an inability to play electric guitar due to hearing problems, Townshend recruited a large backing band, including a guitarist, a second drummer, three backing singers and a five-piece horn section. During this tour, the band regularly performed Tommy in its entirety for the first time since 1971.

1996 saw the band's next tour - a similarly large-scale production of Quadrophenia, featuring guest vocals by Billy Idol, Gary Glitter, and others, and the first appearance of Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr and childhood protege of Keith Moon, as the group's regular drummer. Beginning in 2000, the Who returned to touring as a five-piece group, which they did on a biannual basis throughout the 2000s. The night before the scheduled kickoff of the 2002 tour in Las Vegas, John Entwistle died of heart failure after spending the night with long time rock groupie/stripper Alycen Rowse, and was replaced on short notice by session bassist Pino Palladino, who has played for the group since.

The band's current incarnation, which Townshend jokingly refers to as "Who-2", consists of Daltrey, Townshend, Palladino, Starkey, Bundrick, and Townshend's little brother Simon on backing guitar and vocals. In 2006, the group released Endless Wire, their first studio album since It's Hard. While not particularly a hitmaker, the album featured some rather good songs, including the Man in a Purple Dress, a Dylanish Protest Song inspired by The Passion of the Christ; It's Not Enough, the band's first charting single since 1982; Mike Post Theme, a salute to the writer of theme songs for many of the TV shows catalogued on this very Wiki; and Wire and Glass, a "mini-opera" adapted from Townshend's novella The Boy Who Heard Music.

The band has performed only sporadically since 2008, including a handful of charity shows and a performance during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2010, though Roger Daltrey has toured internationally with a solo band in recent years, including the first touring production of Tommy since 1989.

Also make an appearance in Rock Band: "Won't Get Fooled Again" in the first game, "Pinball Wizard" in the second, "I Can See For Miles" in the third, plus 20 downloadable songs. For the announcement of Rock Band 2 at E3 they even held a concert in promotion for it.

In addition to their work as a group, each of the Who's members also pursued solo careers to varying degrees of success;

  • Townshend was the most successful commercially. Townshend's career outside the Who started in 1969, when he and several other musicians recorded three albums of religious music for devotees of Meher Baba. These albums were heavily bootlegged and tracks from them were later released on his first official solo album, 1972's "Who Came First". Townshend's solo career peaked in The Eighties, with his albums "Empty Glass", "All the Best Cowboys have Chinese Eyes", and "White City" producing a number of minor hits with "Let My Love Open the Door", an electro-pop love song sung from the perspective of God, reaching #3 in the pop chart. He was also a member of two short-lived supergroups - "The Palpitations", which included himself, Ronnie Wood, Steve Winwood, Rick Grech, Jim Capaldi and others as backing band for Eric Clapton's comeback show in 1973, and "The Deep End", featuring himself and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, who played on his solo album "White City" and released a live LP in 1986. In 1999, Townshend resurrected the Lifehouse project as a radio play which aired on the BBC; this play, along with his original demos of the Lifehouse songs and several other recordings, was released in a six-disc box set called "Lifehouse Chronicles" in 2000. The now-defunct "Lifehouse Method", a website which allowed visitors to create synthesizer tracks based on their vital statistics in a manner similar to how Townshend composed "Baba O'Riley", spun off from it in 2007.
  • Daltrey's solo efforts were less remarkable, consisting mostly of ballads written for him by other people (most notably "Giving It All Away", penned by fellow pop star Leo Sayer, which reached #5 in the UK), as well as a cover of Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" for the soundtrack to The Lost Boys. Daltrey's success outside the Who was mainly as an actor - after his big-screen debut in the film adaptation of Tommy, he starred in the musical Lisztomania and the crime drama McVicar, as well as a string of minor roles in film and TV throughout the '80s and '90s, including a memorable appearance as the villianous Col. Rickman on Sliders, and hosted the short-lived History Channel series "Surviving History".
  • John Entwistle's wasn't successful either, though his solo recordings contained mostly original compositions and are considered cult classics by the fanbase. Entwistle maintained an aggressive touring schedule until his death, performing both with his solo group the John Entwistle Band, and as part of "A Walk Down Abbey Road", an all-star Beatles tribute group featuring himself, Todd Rundgren, Ann Wilson, and Alan Parsons. Entwistle was the only musician to perform both at the original Woodstock concert and at Woodstock '99, though he was relegated to the second stage for the latter.
  • Moon's lone solo album, Two Sides of the Moon, defies categorization; it's a compilation of '60s pop covers, produced by Phil Spector. Moon does not play drums at all on the album, leaving that job to session musicians while he sings and often croons the lyrics to Beach Boys songs, a number of Lennon/McCartney tunes, one of his own band's songs, and a Harry Nilsson song where he and Ringo Starr talk over the music and tell bad Music Hall jokes. ("My dog doesn't eat meat!" "Why not?" "We don't give him any!") Moon also made a one-off appearance with the Jeff Beck Group, playing drums on the instrumental piece "Beck's Bolero".

Principal members:

  • Roger Daltrey - lead vocals, harmonica, occasional guitar
  • John Entwistle - bass, keyboards, synthesizers, horns, trumpet, vocals
  • Keith Moon - drums, percussion, kazoo, occasional vocals
  • Pete Townshend - guitar, bass, synthesizers, keyboards, piano, banjo, ukelele, accordion, vocals

Contributing musicians:

  • Dave Arbus - Violin (Baba O'Riley)
  • John "Rabbit" Bundrick - Keyboards (1979-1981, 1985-present)
  • Tim Gorman - Keyboards (1982-1983)
  • Peter Huntington - Drums (Endless Wire)
  • Nicky Hopkins - Piano (My Generation, Who's Next, The Who By Numbers)
  • Al Kooper - Organ (The Who Sell Out, BBC Sessions)
  • Greg Lake - Bass (Real Good Looking Boy / Old Red Wine)
  • Kenney Jones - Drums (1979-1983)
  • Simon Jones - Drums (1985-1989)
  • Jimmy Page - Rhythm guitar (My Generation)
  • Pino Palladino - Bass (2002-Present)
  • Simon Phillips - Drums (1989-1990)
  • Zak Starkey - Drums (1996-Present)
  • Doug Sandom - Drums (I'm the Face / Zoot Suit)
  • Chris Stainton - Piano (Quadrophenia)
  • Simon Townshend - Guitar, vocals (2002-present)
  • Leslie West - Guitar (Songs available on the deluxe editions of Who's Next and Odds and Sods)

Not to be confused with the Mongolian Folk Rock group The HU or the World Health Organization.


Albums released:

  • 1965 - My Generation
  • 1966 - A Quick One, released as Happy Jack in the US, because of Moral Guardians. The original title has since been restored.
  • 1966 - Ready! Steady! Who! (EP, now included on the CD reissue of A Quick One)
  • 1967 - The Who Sell Out
  • 1969 - Tommy
  • 1970 - Live at Leeds, reissued in 1995, 2001, and 2010 with additional material
  • 1971 - Who's Next
  • 1971 - Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (singles compilation, includes non-album singles)
  • 1973 - Quadrophenia
  • 1974 - Odds and Sods (compilation of previously unreleased material, reissued in 1998 with additional rarities)
  • 1975 - The Who by Numbers
  • 1978 - Who Are You
  • 1981 - Face Dances
  • 1982 - It's Hard
  • 1984 - Who's Last (live)
  • 1990 - Join Together (live)
  • 1996 - Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 (Previously featured in the concert film Listening To You)
  • 2000 - Blues to the Bush (live)
  • 2000 - BBC Sessions (Compilation of live radio performances recorded 1965-1973)
  • 2003 - Live at the Royal Albert Hall (recorded 2000)
  • 2006 - Endless Wire
  • 2006 - Live From Toronto (recorded 1982 for a live Pay-Per-View)

Non-album singles:

The Who is the Trope Namer for:
The Who provides examples of the following tropes:
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Keith Moon was the Trope Codifier, legendary for wrecking hotel rooms - including part of a Holiday Inn in Michigan on his 21st birthday while The Who was touring the US. Popular legend claims that the chain banned the Who from all its hotels afterward, though Moon's biographer claims this was an exaggeration.
    • Moon's trademark room-wrecking gambit involved dropping a lit cherry bomb into the toilet; he bought five hundred cherry bombs on his first trip to the U.S. and spent the next few years working through them. In later years, John Entwistle confessed that he occasionally joined in the fun, handing Keith the matches.
  • Always Second Best: The Who never had a #1 single in the UK or US throughout their career, being constantly denied the top slot by The Beatles, the Small Faces, Bob Dylan, and others.
    • Which is funny because The Small Faces were Always Second Best in the mod-rock genre right behind The Who...
    • Possibly lampshaded by Pete in the Live at Leeds album. When introducing "Substitute", "Happy Jack", and "I'm a Boy", he mentions that the first "was our first #4", the second "was our first #1... in Germany", and the third, "according to Melody Maker, was our first #1 in England... for about half an hour." ("I'm a Boy" ended up peaking at #2 in the UK)
  • Angrish: The stuttering in "My Generation" is meant partly to evoke this, and partly to invoke a pill-popper who can't control his speech because he's high on amphetamines.
  • Anti-Villain: 'Behind Blue Eyes' is considered this trope's theme song.
  • Audience Participation: Scot Halpin.
    • Hell, even Keith Moon was picked up as an audience member, claiming to be better than their drummer at the time. In an interview clip from 1977, Moon claimed that he was never officially hired by the band, and he'd just been sitting in for 15 years.
    • In the Broadway version of Tommy, the line "How can we follow?" in "I'm Free" is intended to be sung by the audience.
    • And at the call and answer part of "Pinball Wizard" (how do you think he does it? / I don't know!), the second part is often done by the audience.
  • Berserk Button: If Pete Townshend catches you on stage during the band's set, be prepared to talk to the guitar.
    • Even Abbie Hoffmann, who was told to "get the fuck off my fucking stage" at Woodstock. An audio recording of the incident exists on YouTube for skeptics such as Hoffman to listen to. Here's the full transcript:

Abbie Hoffman: (grabs the microphone away from Pete) I think this is a pile of shit! While John Sinclair rots in prison...
Pete Townshend: Fuck off! Fuck off my fucking stage! (whacks Hoffman with his expendable guitar) I can dig it!

(Cue song)

Pete Townshend: The next fucking person that walks across this stage is gonna get fucking killed, all right? (audience laughs) You can laugh, but I mean it!

  • Big Yes: A "YEEEEEEAHHH!" heard towards the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again." Which has now undergone Memetic Mutation thanks to the song's status as theme song for CSI: Miami.
  • Bowdlerise: For its US single release, "Substitute" had a line changed from "I look all white but my dad was black" to "I try walking forward but my feet walk back". Lampshaded in an early interview, where Pete Townshend said that, in America, their records only sold in cities that tended to have race riots.
  • Call Back: Jimmy, the main character from the Rock Opera Quadrophenia attends a concert performed by the Who themselves, circa 1965. The song "Helpless Dancer" even ends with a brief fragment of their early hit "The Kids Are Alright".
    • From "You Better You Bet," released on the 1981 album Face Dances (and as the band's last top 20 single): "I drunk myself blind to the sound of old T.Rex / And Who's Next."
    • Part of the chorus in "Sister Disco" uses the phrase "deaf, dumb and blind". Sound familiar?
  • Canon Discontinuity: As Gary Glitter has been just a wee bit publicly disgraced and exposed as a pedophile, his contributions to the 1996 Quadrophenia tour have been excised from the CD and DVD releases. As Townshend had a run-in with the law himself on charges of possessing child porn not that long ago, his desire to avoid Guilt By Association is understandable.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Keith Moon
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Watch any interview with Pete Townshend. It's pretty funny.
  • Concept Album: The Who Sell Out. In its original LP release, the concept gets more or less abandoned by the start of side two. Later CD releases correct this error by including real-life commercials recorded by the band to pad out the concept.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: The cover of Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Eyesight to the Blind", as featured on Tommy, was reworked to fit it into the story of the album.
    • The Who later did it to one of their own songs. The Kids are Alright, off their debut album, is a pop song about a man who has to leave his girlfriend because she'll be better off without him. Beginning in 2000, the live performances of the song worked in an extended freestyle section which varied from show to show, where Townshend and Daltrey described how their lives and their perspectives on life had changed between now and when they first sang the song.
  • Crapsack World: The unreleased Lifehouse project took place in one, and several songs that were originally intended for inclusion on that album eventually found their way onto other albums. Also, John Entwistle's "905" takes place in a Crap Saccharine World similar to (if not actually inspired by) Aldous Huxley's Brave New World
  • Creator Breakdown: Lifehouse, The Who By Numbers.
  • Crazy Prepared: Townshend's preferred manner of preparing songs to be recorded by the band was to record demo tracks on which he sang lead and played all the instruments himself, to give the other band members a clear idea of what he wanted. His "Scoop" trilogy of solo albums is made of of compilations of these demos, and two discs of the six-disc "Lifehouse Chronicles" box set are made up of them.
    • One of his demo tapes even got onto Tommy. "Tommy's Holiday Camp" was intended to be sung by Keith Moon (as indeed it was when played live), but Pete's original solo version was used instead.
  • Darker and Edgier: A lot of their early material bordered on comedy: "I'm A Boy" was the lament of a child whose mother refused to acknowledge his gender, "Pictures of Lily" and "Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand" both serving as a cheeky attempt at fooling 1960s censors, etc. Then there's Tommy, with its cynical take on adultery, child abuse, pop culture stardom, and social isolation only slightly obscured by the inclusion of a song about a blind kid playing pinball. And it gets much, much worse from there on out, with Creator Breakdown leading to a string of bleaker and bleaker albums throughout the 1970s, culminating in 1975's The Who By Numbers, sometimes referred to by fans as "Pete Townshend's suicide note." Joking and light-hearted songs didn't entirely disappear from the group's catalog, but they were increasingly relegated to one or two tracks per album, if that.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: "Pictures of Lily"
  • A Day in the Limelight: Almost all of The Who albums contained around two or three songs composed by bassist John Entwistle (instead of the main songwriter Pete Townshend), the majority of them sung by Entwistle himself instead of lead singer Roger Daltrey.
    • Additionally, every live performance had at least one John Entwistle song, with him on lead vocals, usually "Heaven and Hell" (as an opening number), "Boris the Spider" and/or "My Wife". These numbers would usually be amongst of the rare moments of the concert where the spotlight was on the stoic bassist.
      • Keith Moon used to sometimes take the lead vocal on rare occasions, on studio recording and during live performances, which would often also qualify as Crowning Moment of Funny.
    • A Quick One is the only Who LP to contain songs by all four members of the band (one by Daltrey, two each by Moon and Entwistle, and the rest by Pete); their manager had finagled a deal with their label that would net each contributing songwriter £500.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Roger Daltrey was straight-edge, and heavily objected to the other members' drug abuse. Once, he lost it on Keith Moon and flushed his pills down the toilet. Townshend also developed this stance after a bad acid trip aboard a plane. (That didn't stop him from being an alcoholic though.)
    • Roger Daltrey was actually kicked out of the band (for the space of about a week) because he beat up Keith Moon for giving out drugs to the rest of the band. From then on out, he wasn't quite as violent.
  • Easily Forgiven: The girl who is the subject of "A Quick One While He's Away" is forgiven by her long-absent boyfriend immediately after admitting her infidelity with Ivor the engine driver. A rare justified example -- said boyfriend mentions he wasn't entirely faithful himself.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: "Tattoo"
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The synth riff at the start of "Baba O'Riley"
  • Epic Rocking: "A Quick One While He's Away", "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Love Reign O'er Me", "Baba O' Riley", "We're Not Gonna Take It"... among others.
  • Fan Nickname: Some band member nicknames are sometimes used by the group as well (usually onstage).
    • John Entwistle: The Ox, Thunderfingers, The Eye of the Hurricane
    • Moon: Moonie, Moon the Loon
    • The 1989 Tommy anniversary tour: "The Who on Ice"
  • Fingore: Yes, Pete hurts his hand playing the guitar like that. In many cases, he loses fingernails outright.
  • Four Man Band
  • Four More Measures: "Baba O'Riley".
  • Full-Circle Revolution: "Won't Get Fooled Again" which is also Trope Namer for Meet the New Boss.
  • Fun with Flushing: Keith Moon had a documented habit of flushing firecrackers down the toilets of hotel bathrooms.
  • Genre Savvy: The band's onstage personalities tended to reflect the stereotypes of their instrument/role in the group: the flashy lead singer (Roger), the stoic bassist (John), the Cloudcuckoolander drummer (Keith), and the lead guitarist as the songwriter and the lynchpin holding it all together (Pete).
    • Additionally, several lines from "Behind Blue Eyes" (the ode to the Anti-Villain) are basically rules from the Evil Overlord List worded differently. And, y'know, published 25 years before the list.
  • Harsh Vocals: John Entwistle's growled refrain in "Boris the Spider" has been cited as one of the earliest examples of a death-growl.
  • Heavy Meta: "Long Live Rock"
  • Henpecked Husband/Woman Scorned: "My Wife"
  • Heroic RROD: Pete Townshend suffered massive hearing loss over the years as the result of the group's overwhelmingly loud music (they once held a Guinness World Record for "loudest band"), and as of the 2000s was almost completely deaf. (When playing acoustic guitar onstage, he has to wear headphones just to be able to hear his own playing.)
    • That cannon going off in his face didn't help any either.
      • You mean Keith Moon's drum kit from their appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Moon was said to have packed more powder into the kit than the technicians were comfortable with and nobody but him knew about it. Pete and Roger claim that their respective hearing losses began in opposite ears because they were facing each other when Keith's bass drum exploded.
  • Hypochondria: The song "Doctor, Doctor" has this in the lyrics, with someone claiming to have whooping cough, the mumps, and chicken pox in quick succession.
  • Intercourse with You: "Squeeze Box", "Pictures of Lily", "Mary Ann With the Shaky Hand"
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: And plenty.
  • Last Chorus Slow-Down: "Baba O'Riley" is a subversion; it moves from on-the-edge hard rock to folk rock with fiddle playing at the end, but then the fiddle moves into accelerando.
    • A lot of their songs do this in some way.
  • Last-Note Nightmare: The Tommy outtake "Cousin Kevin, Model Child" ends with one of these.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In "My Generation"

Why don't ya all f-f-fade away

  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: The original LP release of Live At Leeds consisted solely of six tracks on a single record. The first reissue in 1995 added the entire concert except for the live performance of Tommy. The 2001 reissue added that as well, and the 2010 version also included the sister concert performed a few days later at Hull (which had been shelved due to audio issues that couldn't have been fixed with pre-2010 technology).
  • Long Runner Lineup: The classic lineup falls under Type 2 and lasted from 1964 to Keith Moon's death in 1978.
  • Lost Forever: Several of the songs the group recorded for Lifehouse, such as "Mary", were lost due to the master tapes being inadequately preserved, and decayed to uselessness by the time the group sought to remaster them in the '90s. Some, like "Put the Money Down" and "Time Is Passing", were partially restored with new vocals and overdubs added to what could be retrieved from the originals.
    • The group's cover of "Under My Thumb", as reissued in the CD era, is missing the lead guitar part, which similarly was lost due to a damaged master tape.
  • Loudness War: Some of their recent remasters, especially Meaty.
    • You could argue the Who were the rock-throwing cavemen from whom a direct line can be drawn to the high-tech, range-compressing warriors of today. The Who just used plain old wattage (see "Heroic RROD" above). Dougal Butler, who wrote Full Moon, a hilarious memoir of his days with the band, said: "The Who have been clocked at 120 decibels near the stage. This is a condition which can be exactly duplicated by sticking your head in a jet engine."
    • Yeah, live. Thankfully technology back then couldn't stand as much abuse as CDs nowadays.
  • Love Triangle: "Substitute," "A Quick One (While He's Away)," the plot to Tommy
  • Mad Bomber: Keith wasn't that fond of toilets.
  • Medley: "A Quick One (While He's Away)," "Wire and Glass." "Rael" was originally intended as one, but was never completed and until the 1990s, only the first part was commercially available.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The Live at Leeds album sleeve was deliberately designed to look like a bootleg, with the LP itself having a handwritten track listing and an instruction that the scratching noises are on the record itself and are not being caused by your phonograph. The CD remaster instead states that the scratches have been corrected.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Several of Pete Townshend's late '90s recordings mashed up classic Who songs with freestyle rap sections performed by Hame.
  • New Sound Album: Who's Next sees the group stepping decisively away from their early mod / pop art roots.
  • No Ending: "Rael 1" was intended as the first part of a longer "mini-opera" in the same vein as "A Quick One (While He's Away)." Only Pete Townshend didn't finish writing it, so the story ends abruptly before it really has a chance to get started.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "A Quick One (While He's Away)," "Baba O'Riley," "The Punk and the Godfather"
  • Not Christian Rock: Pete Townshend is a follower of Meher Baba, an Indian pantheist guru, and as such many of the songs he wrote for the Who are either addressed to God ("Who Are You, Bargain", "Listening To You"), written from the perspective of God ("Let My Love Open the Door", "God Speaks of Marty Robbins"), or are about God in a more abstract sense ("Drowned", "Don't Let Go The Coat"). Most of Townshend's religious songs are oblique enough that one wouldn't notice it unless they were informed of it beforehand. His work with the Who aside, Townshend also recorded a trilogy of solo albums with Ronnie Lane which were explicitly dedicated to and based on the teachings of Meher Baba.
  • Older Than They Look: Roger Daltrey seems to age at a fraction of the normal rate. Probably partly explained by his being straight-edge.
    • The singer in "Substitute" claims that he's also older than he looks.
  • The Other Darrin: Zak Starkey and Pino Palladino.
    • Also, when the Who made a guest appearance on The Simpsons, Pete Townshend had lost his voice and was unable to read his parts. His brother Paul recorded them instead.
    • In Roger Daltrey's solo band, Simon Townshend is the other Darrin to his brother Pete, playing electric guitar and singing the vocals that Pete would otherwise do.
  • The Power of Rock: Lifehouse
  • Promoted Fanboy: Scot Halpin.
  • Precision F-Strike: Live at Leeds has one at the end of "Young Man Blues"
  • Protest Song: The Who were never a very political band, but there are a few examples among their catalogue;
    • When Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were briefly jailed for marijuana possession in 1967, the Who released a cover of "Under My Thumb", backed by "The Last Time", in protest. The plan was reportedly for the Who to keep covering Stones songs for as long as Jagger and Richards were in jail, but as it turned out the pair were released even before the "Under My Thumb" single was issued.
    • "I've Known No War" and "Why Did I Fall For That?" on the It's Hard album, a pair of pieces about fear of nuclear war in the 1980s.
    • "Man in a Purple Dress", on Endless Wire, is a scathing attack against organized religion and the clergy, inspired after Townshend watched The Passion of the Christ.
    • Off the same album is "Black Widow's Eyes", a topical if not exactly protest-y song about Stockholm Syndrome setting in during the Beslam school massacre.
    • And of course, there's "Won't Get Fooled Again", an anti-protest song about how revolutionaries always end up imitating the people they overthrew.
  • Punny Name: "Pick Up the Peace," Who's Next. Honorable mention to the original name for the album that morphed into Tommy: Who's for Tennis
  • The Quiet One: John Entwistle, who went so far as to write a song about himself, with that title.
  • Refrain From Assuming: It's "Baba O'Riley", not "Teenage Wasteland".
    • However, there is a Pete Townshend version of the song with a slower tempo called "Teenage Wasteland," making it easy to mistake.
      • The song "Teenage Wasteland" has two verses, a bridge, and a second chorus section that were later cut out when the song became "Baba O'Riley".
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "Who Are You" is the Theme Tune for CSI. Which makes sense, because the show is about finding the killer. Well, except that the song is really about getting drunk, being hassled by the cops, and finding God.
    • CSI: Miami grabbed "Won't Get Fooled Again," which makes less sense, but still some--they don't want to be fooled. Of course, the song is really about revolution.
    • CSI New York uses "Baba O'Riley"... which makes no sense whatsoever.
      • Those NY characters put their back into their living.
      • Word of God says that they were originally planning to use "Behind Blue Eyes" to make reference to NYPD cops, but through Executive Meddling, they ended up using "Baba O'Riley".
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Perhaps the first ever to do this.
  • Rock Opera: Tommy, Quadrophenia. Lifehouse was supposed to be one. Tommy is the Trope Namer, the Trope Maker, and the Trope Codifier. See below.
  • Rockstar Song: "Success Story," "How Many Friends" (most of The Who By Numbers really), "New Song"
  • Rockumentary: The Kids Are Alright. There's also the recent Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who, which is a more serious look at the band's history.
  • Scooter Riding Mod: The Who were closely associated with the British mod scene during their early career, with 1966's A Quick One, their second album, being the zenith of their association with that subculture. The next few albums following it, though, see the group reinventing itself as one of the pioneers of 1970s hard rock, a process that was more or less complete by 1971's Who's Next.
  • Self-Plagiarism: In Tommy they used an instrumental tune from "Rael 1" (on the album The Who Sell Out) as a leitmotif.
    • The song "Glow Girl," recorded during the The Who Sell Out sessions but unreleased for a number of years, ends with a short song fragment ("it's a girl, Mrs. Walker, it's a girl") that is recycled almost verbatim as the second track of Tommy.
    • A subtle one: listen carefully to the music during the chorus of "I'm One" from Quadrophenia; part of it sounds like part of the ending of "Overture" in Tommy.
  • Sell Out: The Who Sell Out is a massive lampshade of the group's numerous commercial endeavors during the late 1960s, including recording radio promos for Coca-Cola, Heinz Baked Beans, a car dealer, a maker of guitar strings, the United States Air Force, and anyone else they felt would reimburse them for their trouble. The original plan was to entice the companies mentioned on the album to pay for the references. No one was interested, but the band was blatant enough about it that many listeners took the album as intentional satire.
  • Single-Stanza Song/Looped Lyrics/Title-Only Chorus: "See Me Feel Me"
  • Soprano and Gravel: Townshend and Daltrey, respectively.
    • Wasn't always the case, though; it wasn't until after Daltrey's Vocal Evolution that it really became like this trope.
    • John Entwistle sometimes sung "soprano" to both Daltrey and Townshend's "gravel", his falsetto being a big part of The Who's vocals. Also sung much lower than Daltrey's tenor in Summertime Blues, for comedic effect.
      • Entwistle actually does that with himself in the song "Boris The Spider", where he switches from his normal voice to some of the deepest growl you'll ever hear during the chorus, and a funny falsetto during the bridge.
    • The shining example is in Sea And Sand on Quadrophenia.
  • Spiders Are Scary: "Boris the Spider"

Creepy, crawly / Creepy, crawly / Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly...

  • Step Up to the Microphone/Vocal Tag Team: While Daltrey was the regular vocalist, Townshend did sing lead on a number of songs, as did (more rarely) Entwistle and (even more rarely) Moon.
  • The Stoic: John Entwistle played this role within The Who, usually not moving too much and keeping a straight face to contrast with the other members' wild antics. It's really only comparatively, though; he had his fair share of crazy moments, including sometimes joining the others in the onstage instrument-destroying.
    • "Comparatively" is right. It's odd that you can be described as the low-key member of the group while performing an entire concert in a leather Halloween skeleton costume.
    • Special mention should be made to his outfit from the Monterey Pop Festival. He's not on screen much, but when you see him, it's like getting hit with a psychedelic neon club.
  • Subdued Section: "You Better You Bet" among others
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Especially in the early period, to the extent that many of the early punk bands cited the Who as their prime inspiration. (The Sex Pistols and The Ramones both recorded covers of "Substitute".) In a bump recorded for Little Steven's Underground Garage, Townshend quips "Wanna see a magic trick? Look what I can do with only three chords!"
  • Trope Maker/Trope Codifier: Though not the Ur Example of Rock Operas (The Story of Simon Simopath by Nirvana and S.F. Sorrow by The Pretty Things both predate it), the Who's Tommy was the earliest one to become a hit. The Who maintain that S.F. Sorrow wasn't an influence in any major way, but several critics, and the Pretty Things themselves have disagreed. No one seems to have asked them about The Story of Simon Simopath since UK Nirvana never got too popular.
    • As for the Codifying, Tommy is still one of the best examples of a continuous narrative via music there is, and uses several common Rock Opera Tropes, particularly Rock Opera Plot and Leitmotif.
  • Unsound Effect: Because they couldn't afford to hire additional musicians, Pete, Roger and John had to sing "cello cello cello cello" for the part in "A Quick One, While He's Away" that was supposed to have strings.
  • Very Special Episode: "Little Billy", an anti-smoking jingle the group recorded for the American Cancer Society in 1968.
  • Vocal Evolution: Just listen to how Roger Daltrey used to sound in their early years, like in Tommy, and then compare it to how he sounds in their later albums, such as Quadrophenia. Back when he was still "finding his voice", as Pete Townshend put it, his voice had a lighter, smoother sound to it. Afterwards, his voice started to become more distinct by becoming deeper and rougher.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The title of the song "Eminence Front" [1] barely makes sense even if you do understand the context of the words.
  1. i.e., a pretension of being suave and elite