The Who are an English rock band, formed in 1964: vocalist Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They became known for energetic live performances which often included 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 reaching the UK top five. They first hit the US 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 US, 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 US top five Face Dances (1981) and the US 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 US.
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.
The Who performed at the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on 7 February 2010. They played a medley of "Pinball Wizard", "Baba O'Riley", "Who Are You", "See Me, Feel Me", and "Won't Get Fooled Again".
The Who performed Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall on the 30 March 2010 as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust series of 10 gigs. This one-off peformance of the rock opera featured Guest appearances from Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam and the lead singer of Kasabian, Tom Meighan.
Townshend told Rolling Stone magazine that the band had planned a tour for early 2010; Townshend has since stated this may not happen due to the return of his tinnitus. He is experimenting with a new in-ear monitoring system that was recommended to him by fellow rocker Neil Young and his audiologist. The in-ear monitoring system was scheduled to be tested out at the Quadrophenia concert at the Royal Albert Hall. If the system works for Townshend a tour is possible in late 2010. This was hinted by Roger Daltrey at a recent show backing Eric Clapton.
The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and won the first annual Freddie Mercury Lifetime Achievement in Live Music Award in 2006. They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1988, and from the Grammy Foundation in 2001, for creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.
Tommy was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998, "My Generation" in 1999 and Who's Next in 2007. My Generation was selected for preservation in the United States National Recording Registry in 2009.
At the 31st annual awards ceremony on 7 December 2008, Townshend and Daltrey received Kennedy Center Honors; the first rock band to be so honoured.