The Who: 15 Facts You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

Photo by: Universal Music Group
Photo by: Universal Music Group

The Who has become one of the most influential bands in rock music history. Releasing 11 albums over their five-decade career, including two rock operas and numerous hits, such as “My Generation,” “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” their music has inspired countless artists to follow in the band’s footsteps. The Who’s music is still as fresh and poignant as ever. The team of singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon’s status in music history was sealed when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Read on to find out more about this legendary band, and make sure to look out for part two of our list, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: They Weren’t Always “The Who.” The band went through a few name changes before settling on The Who. Starting out in 1961 as skiffle band, The Detours, the band changed direction slightly when founding member Roger Daltrey took over vocal duties in 1963 and Pete Townshend was added on guitar, changing their sound to a mix of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B. In 1964, a friend of Townshend’s suggested the band change their name to The Who and the band took on Keith Moon as its drummer. The same year, their name was changed again, this time by their publicist, who turned them into a mod band named The High Numbers. However, months later, after their debut album failed to make the charts, the band became known as The Who again but kept the mod style.

Number Fourteen: They Like to Break Stuff. Townshend has been known to smash his guitar on stage in the past. However, the first time he did it, it was an accident. While the band, still known as The High Numbers at the time, were playing at the Railway Hotel, Townshend got frustrated and smashed his guitar into splinters. Keith Moon got in on the action too, smashing his drum set in solidarity a week later.

Number Thirteen: They Opened for The Beatles. At the height of The Beatles’ success, The High Numbers played a gig opening for them at Blackpool. Also on the bill: The Kinks.

Number Twelve: Daltrey was Briefly Kicked Out of the Band. Even though their music was starting to gain momentum by early 1965, the members of The Who did not necessarily get along. One night in Denmark, the band had a falling out and Daltrey flushed Moon’s drugs down the toilet and proceeded to assault him. This led to the rest of the band kicking Daltrey out. Eventually, they allowed him back in once he agreed that the band would be a run as a democracy from then on.

Number Eleven: “My Generation” Was The Band’s Biggest UK Single. The single, off The Who’s debut album of the same name, topped out on the UK charts at number two, higher than any of the band’s other singles, ever. “My Generation” didn’t do as well in the United States, as it only reached number 74 on the Billboard charts.

Number Ten: Keith Moon Celebrated His 21st Birthday with a Bang. Having developed a penchant for destroying hotel rooms while touring the United States, Moon decided to celebrate his birthday by wreaking havoc in his Flint, Michigan hotel room. By night’s end, the band caused $24,000 worth of damage to their room and Moon was missing one of his front teeth.

Number Nine: Tommy Made The Who Famous. If any of The Who’s albums brought them the most attention, it was 1969’s Tommy, the band’s fourth album and first rock opera. The album reached number two on the Billboard charts and went to number four in the U.K. It was so popular that it inspired a 1971 stage adaptation, a 1975 movie and a 1992 Broadway show. Look for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about The Who, coming soon.