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The Who In 25 Historic Doses

List Of The Day

The Who, well what's left of them, will be performing at this year's Super Bowl, following in the history of legendary halftime performances by Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen. Rumors that XTC would be performing in the Who's place remain just that.

We're predicting that Townshend will hire many auxiliary musicians to augment the band and there will be no quiet time with Pete and Roger Daltrey sitting on stools crooning in harmony. The Who, after all, were never Simon and Garfunkel.

In the sprit of celebration, List Of The Day offers up 25 historical moments in the lifetime of the Who.

25) The Who Change Their Name Back To The Who: They called themselves the Who and were then convinced the High Numbers would be a better idea. After a single went nowhere, they showed the patience of a Network TV studio exec and changed back to the Who, making way for countless albums punning on their band name. Everyone awaits Who Cares?

24) The Who Have First Hit With "I Can't Explain": It's important that bands have hits early in their career, otherwise they often don't have a career. The Who understood how to pack a single full of firepower and while the group went on to become one of the great "album rock" bands, it was with the single that mastered the game.

23) The Who Learn The Power Of The Stutter: My G-G-G-Generation would never be My G-G-G-Generation without Daltrey's stutter. Speech impediment rock never caught on but the Who had an anthem for people who would get old after all.

22) The Who Record "Mini-Opera": Both "A Quick One While He's Away" and "Rael" show the Who aiming towards something more complicated than the average hit single with reoccurring musical motifs and bits and pieces that add up to an unusual whole. Why not? Everybody's got to keep themselves amused somehow.

21) The Who Release Self-Pleasuring Anthem: "Pictures of Lily" is one of my personal faves from the group and I went into it knowing what the song was going to be about. Did they ever have a "Picture" contest where everyone could submit what they imagine Lily to look like?

20) The Who Record Concept Album: The Who Sell Out was among the first rock albums to think of itself not just as an album of songs but as an overall concept piece where the songs are interrupted by commercials. Great. That's like designing a videogame for Baseball and featuring rain delays!

19) The Who Represent Mod Culture: In America, this just sounds silly. Probably what the Midwest looks like to British folks. I imagine Mods to be like GQ readers with violent sociopathic streaks and assume I would be a rocker by default who I imagine are like Mad Magazine readers with a violent sociopathic streak.

18) The Who Smash Their Instruments: It's become a rock tradition to destroy your equipment. An expensive tradition, but a tradition, nonetheless. The Who did it at the Monterey Pop Festival, while Hendrix set his guitar on fire. The Association did not retaliate.

17) The Who Appear On The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: After ruining their equipment onstage at Monterey, The Who decided to do it on national TV to get more bang for their demographical buck. Townshend says the explosion from Keith Moon's drum kit began his hearing troubles. It has nothing to do with how loud his guitar playing might have been. OK.

16) The Who Release Rock Opera Tommy: Love it, hate it, never actually finished it, Tommy remains one of those landmarks in rock n' roll that you have to have at least heard of. Like Styrofoam, it will outlast most of us, as album, movie, play. Maybe White City or The Iron Man is actually better (though I doubt it), but Tommy will always be first, no matter how many Small Faces fans gather in one place.

15) Pete Townshend Kicks Abbie Hoffman Off Stage At Woodstock: In terms of pure theater who doesn't like the idea of rock n' roll triumphing over politics?

14) The Who Release Their First Live Album: Live At Leeds remains one of the finest live albums of the rock era. For the first time, the anarchic energy of the band is fully captured on tape. Don't blame them for Aerosmith's Live Bootleg. It wasn't their fault.

13) The Who Salvage Botched Concept Lifehouse And Make Who's Next: Townshend had so many ambitions for Lifehouse and he had to settle for a one-LP collection called Who's Next, an album that would one day come to symbolize the rise of classic rock radio and the selling of automobiles like no other.

12) The Who Record Second Rock Opera, Quadrophenia: My personal fave among the Who's grand concepts. Again, I can't give you a plot synopsis. But if there are still classic rock radio stations, surely, they play "Love Reign O'er Me" upon the first sound of thunder, or right after the Doors' "Riders On The Storm." Weather rock never goes out of style.

11) The Who Release Album Dedicated To Alcoholism: The Who By Numbers is pretty much a sad admission that the band was becoming a tad predictable to Townshend, who realized his drinking wasn't helping the band. Keith Moon must've wondered what this guy was talking about, since Moon was known to enjoy a nip here and there. (Note to self: always check under the car.)

10) The Who Have Hit With "Squeeze Box": As a sign that drinking clouds your judgment, Townshend writes the single "Squeeze Box," as dumb a tune as Chuck Berry's "My Ding-A-Ling."

9) The Who Are The World's Loudest Band: Townshend wonders why he can't hear? By 1976, the band made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest rock band in history. This makes Motorhead...what?

8) Drummer Keith Moon Dies: The Who released Who Are You. The album was the group's fastest seller to date while Moon hid his beer belly behind a chair. Less than a month later on September 7, 1978, Moon was found dead hours after attending a party thrown by Paul McCartney. What kind of parties does Macca throw?

7) The Who Survive Cincinnati Tragedy: With Kenney Jones in the drummer chair, The Who found more controversy when 11 fans were killed on December 3, 1979 at a concert at Riverfront Coliseum in previously friendly Cincinnati, Ohio. "Festival Seating" was blamed for the careless onrush of fans who tramped the unlucky eleven to death. The incident led to a particularly poignant episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. Johnny Fever, Gary Sandy and Gordon Jump excel.

6) The Who Say "Farewell" In 1982: In what would become a tradition, The Who played their "final" shows during a 1982 "Farewell" tour of North America. The profits were so enjoyable that the Who would go on to perform many times for the last time.

5) The Who Reunite For Live Aid: The first time they reunited was for Bob Geldof's Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium where the band agreed to feed the world for a year.

4) Pete Townshend Licenses The Catalog To Just About Anyone: Over the past few years, most of us have enjoyed the Who's music in quick, thirty second bursts as products march across the screen. I believe they're called "commercials" and were considered to be a new way for bands to get their music played once MTV stopped playing videos and it was discovered that people no longer listened to the radio.

3) The Who Release Many Greatest Hits Collections: Like all bands older than dirt, The Who continue to repackage their impressive but meager career into "Greatest Hits" collections where they always manage to leave off a few key tracks and add a few no one cares about. The group only made less than a dozen albums with Keith Moon, so it would probably be cheaper and more efficient to buy the original albums and one early singles collection and be done with it.

2) The Who Receive Many Life-Time Achievement Awards: The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, the UK Music Hall of Fame, Kennedy Center honors, the list goes on to include something called The Freddie Mercury Achievement in Live Music Award, which I'm sure John Kordosh has won at least once. Before this whole thing winds down The Who will have won The Wilco Award, The Pete Doherty Says High Award and others.

1) Bassist John Entwistle Dies: On June 27, 2002, John "The OX" Entwistle was found dead at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, a victim of a tired heart and too many trips to the nose bar for cocaine. The band briefly delayed the upcoming tour but reconvened with bassist Pino Palladino joining Townshend, Daltrey and somebody on drums in Los Angeles to finish out the tour. They have since recorded the album Endless Wire, which isn't nearly as bad as it could be.

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