In honor of the performance of what is left of The Who during halftime of tonight’s Superbowl, we thought it would be appropriate to feature the band with its full original lineup in tonight’s music byte. This is the last full video of all four band members playing together. Drummer Keith Moon died shortly after taping in 1978.
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964. The primary lineup consisted of vocalist Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They became known for energetic live performances including the pioneering spectacle of instrument destruction. The Who have sold about 100 million records and have charted 27 top forty singles in the United Kingdom and United States with 17 top ten albums,including 18 Gold, 12 Platinum and 5 Multi-Platinum album awards in the United States alone.
The Who rose to fame in the UK with a series of top ten hit singles, boosted in part by pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline, beginning in January 1965 with “I Can’t Explain”. The albums My Generation (1965), A Quick One (1966) and The Who Sell Out (1967) followed, with the first two hitting the UK top five. They first hit the U.S. Top 40 in 1967 with Happy Jack” and hit the top ten later that year with “I Can See for Miles”. Their fame grew with memorable performances at the Monterey Pop and Woodstock music festivals. The 1969 release of Tommy was the first in a series of top ten albums in the U.S., followed by Live at Leeds (1970), Who’s Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), The Who By Numbers (1975), Who Are You (1978) and The Kids Are Alright (1979).
Moon died at the age of 32 in 1978, after which the band released two studio albums, the UK and U.S. top five Face Dances (1981) and the U.S. top ten It’s Hard (1982), with drummer Kenney Jones, before disbanding in 1983. They re-formed at events such as Live Aid and for reunion tours such as their 25th anniversary tour (1989) and the Quadrophenia tours of 1996 and 1997. In 2000, the three surviving original members discussed recording an album of new material, but their plans temporarily stalled upon Entwistle’s death at the age of 57 in 2002. Townshend and Daltrey continue to perform as The Who, and in 2006 they released the studio album Endless Wire, which reached the top ten in the UK and U.S.
The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, their first year of eligibility. Their display there describes them as “Prime contenders, in the minds of many, for the title of World’s Greatest Rock Band.” The Los Angeles Times wrote that during their tenure as a quartet, the band “rivaled The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones as the most vital rock voice of youth.” Time Magazine wrote in 1979 that “No other group has ever pushed rock so far, or asked so much from it.” They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1988, and from the Grammy Foundation in 2001. In 2008 surviving members Townshend and Daltrey were honoured at the 31st Annual Kennedy Center Honors.
Please enjoy this video of The Who performing “Who Are You” for the last time as the original band. Pay close attention to drummer Keith Moon as this is some of the last footage of him ever taken. Also below, is the cover from the Who Are You album. It is eerie to note that Keith Moon is sitting upon a chair on which it says, “Not To Be Taken Away”.