Trivia / The Who


  • Breakthrough Hit: "My Generation" from My Generation, "I Can See for Miles" from The Who Sell Out in the U.S.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Pete Townshend's Scoop liner notes include a rather bitter comment of "It's the silly songs they like, daft punters." after mentioning how their concerts always included shouted requests for "Magic Bus" and "Boris the Spider".
    • John Entwistle himself wrote "The Quiet One", from Face Dances, specifically because he was sick of having to play "My Wife" and "Boris the Spider" onstage. He also hated playing "Magic Bus" in concert because he had to suffer through inordinately long verses of playing a one-note Bo Diddley Beat on the bass.
    • The band as a whole did not have a good opinion of Face Dances, John being dissatisfied with the increasing use of keyboards and synthesizers crowding out the guitars (he commented that the only "strong guitar songs" on the album were his), and Roger commenting that Pete's material was strong but "the band failed him for the first time". Roger Daltrey has also been vocally displeased about It's Hard, deriding it as a poor-quality contractual obligation album, and saying in 1994 that it "should have never been released".
    • Roger also claimed that John Entwistle's "Trick of the Light", which he sung, was the one track he didn't want on Who Are You, saying "It just goes on and on and on and on and I think the lyrics are very witty but it just becomes musically bland to me."
    • The band also don't look back fondly on their debut My Generation. They dismissed it as a rush job (it was recorded in only a week) that didn't accurately represent their stage performances of that point in their career
    • The band hated their iconic performance at Woodstock. Roger Daltrey declared it as "the worst gig [they] ever played" and Pete Townshend said, "I thought the whole of America had gone mad."
  • Creator Breakdown: Pete Townsend had several:
    • The first and most notable breakdown occurred during the production of his ambitious Lifehouse project, which was to be a massive concept album/film/audience participation project, made with the intention of creating the greatest event in music history. The story was set in a dystopian future in which the cities of Earth are so polluted that everyone has to stay inside, and that everyone is hooked up to a massive network which provides entertainment through what is essentially virtual reality. (Sound familiar?) It was going to end with a Universal Chord of pure music being struck and everyone ascending to a higher plane of existence. It broke down because no one else seemed to understand the concept - especially not the other members of the band. The idea had to be scrapped, and a more "conventional" non-concept album was released based on some of the songs. The result of this "failure" was Who's Next, and is considered to be one of (if not THE) best album the Who ever released.
    • The second occurred after the release of Quadrophenia, which was not as popular or as well-received at the time as Townshend had hoped it would be. This, in conjunction with his drinking problem, caused him to take a brief break from songwriting before returning two years later with the stripped-down and alarmingly cynical The Who By Numbers.
    • The third occurred after the death of Keith Moon and the Who's breakup in 1982 after years running on autopilot. Townshend wrote the contemplative, abstract, synth-heavy solo album "All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes".
    • His most recent was in the early 2000s, when he began personally researching sexual abuse in children under the belief that he may had been molested as a child and didn't remember. Unfortunately, his research led him to a child pornography site, which landed him on a sex offender's list for eight years.
  • Development Hell
    • Since at least the early 1990s, Roger Daltrey has been attempting to put a Keith Moon biopic on the big screen. Robert Downey, Jr.. was once considered for the lead role before, in Daltrey's words, he "read the script and did everything in it." Mike Myers was teased all throughout the 2000s to be playing the man himself, but after its intended release day in 2007 passed, nothing has come of it. Currently, IMDB lists the film as "Untitled Keith Moon Project", with Myers still attached to the title role.
    • Endless Wire languished here for most of the early 2000s, simply because 20 years had already passed since the release of It's Hard, and each passing year meant that the expectations of new Who material would be nigh-insurmountable, not helped by John Entwisle's sudden death in 2002. It was finally released in 2006, 24 years after It's Hard.
  • Fan Community Nickname: Wholigans.
  • 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".
  • Flip-Flop of God: Pete Townshend is the master of this trope. He might write a song with one meaning in mind, but over the years his views have evolved. For example, there's "Behind Blue Eyes," a song written from the viewpoint of the villain of the failed project Lifehouse, was originally about betraying your ideals. Townshend has also described it as a song about European men and fascism. It Makes Sense in Context when you see the introduction of the song from VH1 Storytellers.
  • Life Imitates Art: The Who Sell Out? Rock stars doing commercials? Hilarious in 1967. Now de rigeur for every musician, including The Who themselves.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance:
    • When the band were in the process of recording Tommy, Pete Townshend slapped together a Power Pop ballad with no real relation to the story in order to get the attention of New York Times music critic Nik Cohn, who was known to be a fan of certain arcade novelties. That song was "Pinball Wizard", which easily became the most recognizable song off the album.
    • And while Tommy came to be considered their finest work to date, Townshend's aspirations were pegged on its ambitious followup, Lifehouse - which ultimately fell apart due to miscommunication and the Who parting ways with their manager, and stayed dead until Townshend revived it as a solo album and radio play nearly 30 years later, by which time his work was no longer receiving notice on the pop charts. (On the other hand, the album which resulted of the failed Lifehouse sessions, Who's Next, competes with Tommy as the band's most acclaimed)
  • Missing Episode:
    • 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 was lost due to a damaged master tape.
  • One of Us: Pete Townshend is a big animation fan. He produced The Iron Giant and based on his positive review of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded The U.S. he loves anime, as the book heavily covers the subject as well as anime porn, and cosplay among other things.
  • The Other Darrin: Zak Starkey and Pino Palladino.
    • When the Who made a guest appearance on The Simpsons, Pete Townshend was voice by his brother Paul. Pete was under the assumption that they would be voiced by sound-alikes, and was too busy when he found out otherwise.
    • 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 Pete Best: The drummer before Keith Moon came along named Doug Sandom, who himself had replaced Harry Wilson. Before that they had Colin Dawson, the lead singer whose departure led rhythm guitarist Roger Daltrey to take up the vocals himself.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Scot Halpin, a nineteen-year old fan who performed with the band during one concert. Keith Moon had passed out mid-show and was unable to play the drums, so Halpin stepped in for him.
    • Jeff Stein, an American fan who pitched and directed The Kids Are Alright.
  • Reality Subtext: Supposedly, the reason Pete Townshend sang "A Legal Matter" was that Roger Daltrey was divorcing his wife at the time.
    • Several of the lines in "Behind Blue Eyes" about violent outbursts reflect on Roger Daltrey's own history of violence. In the early days of the band, Daltrey would often solve disputes by letting the other person talk to the fist. In one instance, he actually K.O.'d Pete and was immediately fired, only to be let back in (under the proviso that he clean up his act) when "My Generation" became a hit.
    • The first verse of "Who Are You" describes an actual incident. Pete, depressed from having just reached a settlement in a dispute with the band's management, got very drunk at the Speakeasy club with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, tried to leave and passed out in a doorway not far from the club. He was recognized by a policeman, who woke him up and told him he could go free if he was able to walk away by himself. Pete managed to get himself together long enough to walk into a nearby tube station and catch a train home.
    • A band whose image was largely built around their at-the-time-shocking and revolutionary act of wrecking their equipment onstage and for wrecking hotel rooms and causing havoc on tournote  had the misfortune of being in constant debt for much of that decade, until Tommy became a success in 1969. This, and whatever "legal matters" the band went through over this behavior became a constant source of pressure for the band, and the group was very close to breaking up many times. It can easily be said, then, that any attempts by the band of, erm, "sell(ing) out", affixing a quirky pop song like "Pinball Wizard" onto Tommy to help sales, or playing Woodstock for the money would be very well justified and understandable. The inside fold out of Live At Leeds shows bills sent to the band for their antics and instrument destruction.
    • Townshend had also burned out on Tommy by the beginning of the 1970s, particularly as it threatened to eclipse everything the band had done at that point and was the yardstick by which all subsequent Who/Townshend works were measured. He was faced with the task of replacing Tommy as the centerpiece of the Who's live set. Unfortunately for him, Lifehouse and Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock were abandoned, and Quadrophenia suffered technical issues live which led to friction that threatened to split up the band. These events, and Keith Moon's tragic death in 1978, may have continued to haunt Townshend at least until the first breakup of the Who in 1982.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: As mentioned above, this very nearly happened to Roger Daltrey. He'd regularly fist-fight with other members of the band and was fired after knocking Townshend unconscious during one rehearsal. He was rehired after "My Generation" became a hit, on the condition that he'd control his temper.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: Pete Townshend developed his signature guitar-smashing quite by accident one night when he was frustrated with the low ceiling at the venue they were playing at.
  • Throw It In: Several ad-libs and bits of studio chatter made their way into the recordings.
    • At the end of "Happy Jack" from A Quick One Pete Townshend shouts, "I saw ya!" to Keith Moon. Moon was banned from the studio during vocal recordings because he'd always crack the others up and wreck takes, so he would always try to sneak in, and Pete had just noticed him that one time. It became a part of the song, even when performed live.
    • And at the end of "Pure and Easy" Pete says "Put away your girly magazines!" with Keith replying "Sorry!"
    • Each Precision F-Strike in "Who Are You" were supposedly ad-libbed by Daltrey but left in anyway.
    • This is how instrument smashing became part of the band's live sets. Pete Townshend accidentally broke his guitar neck on a club's low ceiling and decided to smash his guitar both out of frustration and to make it look like he'd done it on purpose. The band's manager Keith Lambert loved it and asked Townshend to keep doing it as the stunt got the band a lot of attention.
  • Trope Namer: For Meet the New Boss, Magic Bus, Power Pop, Going Mobile and Teenage Wasteland
  • Troubled Production:
    • Pete Townshend, after Tommy's immense success, intended to create another rock opera, this time with a sci-fi bent, called Lifehouse. Its plot would involve a dystopian heavily polluted virtual reality-based future (virtual reality before the term was even coined), where a Scottish farmer family go to the Lifehouse concert in London, the perfect note rings out and the concertgoers disappear after having achieved musical Nirvana (no, not that kind). The Who would take over the Young Vic theatre, develop new material with influence from the audience and a story would evolve. It would be a movie. Pete would modify his new synths to pick up information from audience members to create musical portraits (something basically impossible then and still pretty complicated now). Unsurprisingly, this was a recipe for disaster. Pete's inability to figure out just what the fuck he wanted caused him to have a nervous breakdown, and after spending four months of live concerts at the Young Vic and unproductive studio sessions, he finally junked the whole Rock Opera concept. The band gathered up their best songs, and entered Olympic Studios with producer Glyn Johns. The result was Who's Next, widely considered the band's best album.
    • The Who By Numbers took an unusually long time to complete. This was not because of technical difficulties, but because of the band members's lack of interest and because of Pete's writer's block and feeling of disenchantment from his music.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: "Magic Bus" manages to still sound reasonably timeless until it betrays the fact that it was written before British currency was decimalised with "Thruppence and sixpence every day just to drive to my baby".
  • What Could Have Been: A second abandoned Concept Album, Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock chronicling the Who's history, was worked on in 1972. According to The Other Wiki, tracks salvaged from the piece included the singles-only tracks, "Join Together", "Relay" and "Long Live Rock", "Put the Money Down" from Odds And Sods, and early versions of the Quadrophenia tracks, "Is It In My Head", "The Punk and the Godfather" and "Love Reign O'er Me", among other tracks.

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