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The Who – My Generation [Live at Woodstock 1969]
At 5am on Sunday just before the Jefferson Airplane took the Woodstock stage, the rock outfit The Who played their rock opera titled “Tommy”. The story of a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who is cured of his ailments and gains stardom became a legendary performance. Although not an apex performance in the Who’s career, Woodstock helped solidify the band’s place in rock history.
The former jazz band created by John Entwistle and Pete Townsend called The Confederates initially featured a banjo and a French horn. After a few shuffles and chance encounters, The Who settled on the lineup of Pete Townsend (guitar), John Entwistle (Bass), Roger Daltry (Vocals), and Keith Moon (Drums). During their early performances, The Who was known for destroying instruments after Townsend accidently put the neck of his guitar through the ceiling at one of the shows and preceded to smash the rest of it after being angered by the crowd.
Their first release titled “I Can’t Explain” was their first hit, which reached the top 10 in the UK. Their first album titled “My Generation” as well as the following albums yielded a number of hits for The Who until Pete Townsend, the creativity behind the band decided that The Who’s music needed cohesion instead of simply being a collection of songs.
The following albums titled “A Quick One” (1966) and “The Who Sell Out” (1967) redefined rock music and resulted in an explosion (literally; Moon detonated his drum kit on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour) of popularity for the band. The following release titled “Tommy” (1968) became the first rock-opera in the history of music.
In 1969 The Who performed most of the songs from “Tommy” with some modifications due to time constraints. During the set Abbie Hoffman took the stage and protested the imprisonment of MC5 member and White Panther leader John Sinclair on charges of marijuana possession. Hoffman was met with a few unfriendly words from Townsend as well as a guitar to the head. A clip of this can be heard the Who compilation “Thirty Years of Maximum R&B”. While Townsend has some rather strong words expressing dissatisfaction with the performance, it is still seen as a historical in the rock and roll world.
The Who experienced success after Woodstock 1969 with releases such as “Who’s Next” which became their best selling and most acclaimed album and “Quadrophenia”, but were both overshadowed by the death of Keith Moon from an overdose of Heminervin, a drug prescribed to fight alcohol withdrawal.
The Who broke up in 1982 after replacing Moon, but never captivated fans and they once had. The Who reunited in 1989and partook in a few partial reunions between then and the death of John Entwistle in 2002 from a heart attack in which cocaine was said to be a factor.
The Who remain one of the most influential bands in the history of rock music. Their album “Tommy” as well as the two previous releases changed the art of album writing. They are also credited as influencing the entire punk rock genre with their ruthless attitudes and instrumental destruction. The Who is responsible for the “power pop” genre as well as being credited as one of the first bands to incorporate synthesizers into their music.
The Who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 as well as the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.