Saturday, December 26, 2009

ROLLING STONE


The Rolling Stones define rock 'n' roll. They are the longest running act in the history of rock music, having remained wildly popular and prodigiously productive over their 30-year career. The group was formed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who met as schoolmates in Dartford, Kent. The legend has them bumping into each other on the platform at Dartford railway station, where Keith notices a blues album under Mick's arm. A bond is struck immediately and the pair go on to form a band with a variety of personnel, who eventually include a boogie-woogie pianist called Ian Stewart and a gifted blonde blues guitarist from Cheltenham called Brian Jones (although at the time he is calling himself Elmo Lewis for added authenticity). The best way to chronicle the Rolling Stones' accomplishments is to break it down by year:

1962

The Stones are just three of a growing circle of musicians who were devoted to the music of American artists like Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Elmore James. They perform these artists' songs with an almost missionary zeal to further the R&B cause, as well as earn enough money to stay alive. For some months, the impoverished early Stones live in squalor in London's Edith Grove. They beg gigs from older, jazz-tinged luminaries like Chris Barber, Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner, yet such is the Stones' raw energy and rapid development, they soon leave behind the somewhat purist and divided world of the jazz and blues establishment.

In July, the Stones take their name from a Muddy Waters song called "Rollin' Stone Blues" and make their live debut at London's Marquee Club (minus Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts). They start playing pubs and clubs around the city and suburbs. Bill Wyman joins late in the year -- the popular story being that he was asked because he had his own amplifier!

1963

In January, Charlie Watts joins the Stones and plays his first gigs. The band gigs constantly with residencies at venues like Ealing Jazz Club, Ken Colyer's Studio 51 and Eel Pie Island in Twickenham. Audiences often consist of fellow budding blues musicians like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend. Their weekly steamy nights at the Crawdaddy at Richmond's Station Hotel result in ecstatic press reviews, and in April a sharp young mover called Andrew Loog Oldham catches the Stones at the Crawdaddy and signs them to his management company the next day. He starts the "Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone" press campaign which endears the group to hordes of youngsters who find the Beatles a tad cute. The shockwaves are still being felt today.

In May, the Stones are signed to Decca Records by an A&R man infamous for turning down the Beatles. A month later "Come On," the first Rolling Stones single, is released. An older generation recoils in horror as the group performs the song on England's top pop TV show "Thank Your Lucky Stars." The song -- an obscure Chuck Berry cover -- climbs to No. 21 on the U.K. charts. The second single, "I Wanna Be Your Man," is given to the group by John Lennon and Paul McCartney after they run into the Stones on the street. They finish writing it on the spot. That reaches No. 12. Live gigs are already attracting hordes of screaming teenage girls who drown out the band.

1964

The group start the year on their first major package tour supporting America's Ronettes, the girl group produced by Phil Spector. In January, the Rolling Stones EP -- four covers of current U.S. rock'n'soul classics -- appears. In February, they release a third single, a version of Bo Diddley's "Not Fade Away," which features Phil Spector on maracas.

By now the Stones are becoming a ferocious R&B machine. They ditch the stage uniforms, grow their hair longer and inspire a legion of lookalikes. No group in history has sparked such horror in the older generation. "Not Fade Away" becomes the Stones' first Top 10 entry, hitting No. 3. The first album immediately sparks controversy for being untitled and featuring no writing on the cover. It reaches No.1. The record mainly consists of raw, feisty covers by heroes like Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon. It also features the first bona fide Jagger/Richards composition, "Tell Me," which was written after Andrew Oldham locked them in his kitchen with the intent of writing some songs. In April, there's teen mayhem when they play the NME Pollwinners' Concert at Wembley Arena.

In June, the band's cover of the Valentinos' "It's All Over Now" becomes the Stones' first No.1 and gold record. It was recorded at Chicago's legendary Chess studios -- home of Muddy Waters and other Stones heroes -- during the group's first visit to the States that month. The Stones go on to predate the dance music explosion by 25 years and headline their fan club's "All Night Rave" at London's Alexandra Palace, which also features John Lee Hooker and winds down at 6:30 a.m.

In August, more Chess material appears on the Five By Five EP, and November caps an eventful year with another chart-topper -- a cover of Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster."

1965

The momentum continues -- as does the band's superhuman schedule -- with a second chart-topping album, Rolling Stones Number 2. In February, the single "The Last Time" (the first A-side to be written by Mick and Keith) also hits No. 1.

In August "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" sweeps the world and becomes one of the biggest Stones anthems ever. Keith says he woke up in the middle of the night in a motel room with that riff in his head and had to whack it down there and then. The following month sees the release of the Got Live If You Want It EP -- a noisy record of the live show recorded over the first three days of the March U.K. tour. The Out Of Our Heads album, recorded between U.S. dates and featuring a bunch of Jagger/Richards gems, is released in July. The chart topping "Get Off My Cloud" puts the cap on another action-packed year.

1966

February sees the single "19th Nervous Breakdown," followed by the ground-breaking, chart-vaulting Aftermath album, on which the Stones start to experiment with different instruments and 11-minute tracks. Every song is written by Mick and Keith. In May, the expansion of the Stones' sound continues on the number one "Paint It Black" single, where Brian's sitar rides the pummelling beat. September's "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadows?" single sees the group's first dabblings with full-on psychedelia. October sees the group's last U.K. tour for three years (with Ike & Tina Turner supporting).

1967

The Between The Buttons album sees a further flowering of the psychedelically inclined studio experimentation expanding the Stones' current whimsical English pop music. In February, Mick and Keith are arrested when Keith's Redlands home is raided by the police. Thus starts the run of high-profile court appearances that divide the nation's generations and are widely believed to be part of some greater conspiracy to silence the unbelievably powerful Stones. But despite all the charges hurled against Jagger, Richards and Jones, no Stone went to jail for any extended period.

After the bust, the Stones tour Europe to literally riotous responses in many cases, and headline the massively popular "Sunday Night At The London Palladium" TV show, where they perform the already-controversial "Let's Spend The Night Together" single and its genteel flip "Ruby Tuesday." They spark further outrage by refusing to ride on the silly roundabout at the end of the show.

In August, the hastily assembled "We Love You" single is released to thank the public for their support during the Jagger/Richards trials. Lennon and McCartney pop up on backing vocals while Mick and girlfriend Marianne Faithful return the favor by joining in with the Beatles "All You Need Is Love" for the "Our World" simultaneous satellite TV broadcast. In December, the highly experimental Their Satanic Majesties Request album baffles many with its extended psychedelic explorations, but still hits the top three. Much attention is focused on its three-dimensional sleeve.

1968

In May, the Stones make a surprise appearance at the end of the NME Pollwinners' Concert. It is immediately obvious that the group have returned to their blues roots as they tear into the new "Jumpin' Jack Flash" single and "Satisfaction." After the uncertainty of the previous year the Stones are back to claim their crown as Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band In The World. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is released later that month and pole vaults to the top. The Beggars Banquet album is supposed to follow in August, but Decca objects to the Stones' graffiti-splattered toilet wall sleeve and it finally emerges in a plain white cover in December. The album launch party ends up with the Stones hurling custard pies in the faces of Decca executives. The album itself shows a new maturity and bluesy raunch, as well as the dark and dangerous image epitomized by "Sympathy For The Devil."

1969

After a meeting with other band members, Brian leaves the Stones on June 8, saying he wants to form a new group. A few days later the Stones hold a photo call in London's Hyde Park to introduce their new guitarist, Mick Taylor, who was formerly in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He will make his live debut with the Stones at a free concert to be held in the park on July 5, and plays on the upcoming single, "Honky Tonk Women"/"You Can't Always Get What You Want."

On July 3, Brian Jones is found dead in his swimming pool in Sussex. The Hyde Park gig becomes a memorial for Brian and the group unveil their new songs. The classic bar room raunch of "Honky Tonk Women" is unleashed a week later and shoots to No. 1.

The chart-topping Let It Bleed album is released in December and turns out to be another feast of apocalyptic blues ("Gimme Shelter"), salacious melodrama ("Midnight Rambler") and more tales from the darkside. The Stones embark on their first U.S. tour since 1966 and, in the new climate of audiences who sit and listen, find the new live power and sense of occasion which remains with them to this day. The U.S. tour climaxes in December with the tragic Altamont Speedway concert.

1970

Two years after it was filmed, Mick Jagger's movie debut in Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell's Performance finally gets released. Jagger plays reclusive rock star Turner. It's accompanied by a soundtrack to which Mick contributed "Memo from Turner."

In September, a live album of the previous year's Madison Square Garden show New York, Get Yer Ya-Yas Out, hits No. 1. It's initially designed as an official alternative to the Stones bootlegs starting to appear. The 1969 tour also results in the movie, Gimme Shelter.

1971

The Stones, whose contract with Decca has expired, launch their Rolling Stones Records imprint with the mighty double header of "Brown Sugar" and "Bitch," which continue to push the barriers and court controversy with their lyrics. The band undertake a farewell tour of the U.K. as they prepare to go into tax exile in the south of France. In April the mothership album, Sticky Fingers, appears with a sleeve designed by Andy Warhol, which depicts a mystery groin complete with adjustable zipper! While the rock 'n' roll is sleazier than ever, a beautifully damaged haze hangs over tracks like "Sister Morphine" and "Wild Horses," which features the country influence of Keith's new mate, Gram Parsons from the Flying Burrito Brothers.

1972

In April, the Top Five hit "Tumbling Dice" is the first single to trailer the upcoming double album Exile On Mainstreet, recorded in the basement of Keith's house in the south of France. The album is derided at the time for sprawling self-indulgence, but Keith is always glad to point out that it is now held up among the band's most enduring work.

The Stones tour the States -- described by organizer Pete Rudge as "not like a rock 'n' roll tour, more like the Normandy landing." It sees the group setting a standard of the grand spectacle required for stadium gigs.

1973

In August, the balladic "Angie" trailers the more melodic Goats Head Soup album, recorded in Jamaica; stirring it up with the controversial "Starfucker" finale. The tour hits Europe, including a spectacular stretch at Wembley Arena.

1974

July's Top 10 single, "It's Only Rock'n'Roll," started life in Ronnie Wood's South London home studio, with David Bowie on backing vocals and the Faces' Kenny Jones on drums. The roughhouse rock feel is continued on the album of the same name, although the highlight could be considered the haunting ballad, "Time Waits For No One."

The Stones/Wood connection becomes closer when Keith appears on most of Ronnie's first solo album, I've Got My Own Album To Do, and both Mick Taylor and Jagger guest. Keith appears with Ronnie at his Kilburn State gig in July. In December Mick Taylor quits to pursue a solo career.

1975

After much speculation and a string of recording sessions-cum-auditions in Munich, which eventually give birth to the Black and Blue album, the Stones announce Mick Taylor's replacement -- Ronnie Wood. (Candidates who didn't get past the jamming phase include Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton and Rory Gallagher). Ronnie has already taken leave from the Faces to tour with the Stones, and Keith admits he nearly asked him to join back when Brian left.

1976

Black and Blue is released in April and features those guest spots from guitarists Harvey Mandel, Wayne Perkins and the successful Mr. Wood. "Fool to Cry" is the single and makes the Top 10. That summer, the group tour and appear straddling an unfolding lotus stage complete with giant inflatable penis and Tarzan rope for Mick.

1977

In February, Keith and Anita Pallenberg are busted in Toronto, where the Stones are playing some low-key club dates to record for an upcoming live album. October's Love You Live double album features songs from the previous tour and a side from the Toronto gigs at the El Mocambo club.

1978

The dance music-influenced "Miss You" (one of the early 12" singles) hits the number one spot in the U.S. The Some Girls LP follows. Originally called Some More Fast Numbers, some say the charged energy level is influenced by the recent punk rock explosion. In fact, the next single, "Respectable," shows the group commenting on their new status as "pillars of society" -- before slamming into brief acquaintance Margaret Trudeau, the Stones-slumming wife of the Canadian Prime Minister.

The Stones tour America to wildly enthusiastic audiences and equally ecstatic reviews. All stage props have been stripped back, to allow room for the new energy coursing through the group with a totally integrated Ronnie Wood and fully-cylindered Keith Richards.

1979

Wood releases a third solo album, Gimme Some Neck, which again features Keith and Mick. In April, the Stones join together to support Keith, doing a set for the Benefit Concert for the blind which honors the Toronto court's sentencing commitment. Keith then joins Ronnie for the New Barbarians tour. The Barbs appear at the Knebworth Festival supporting Led Zeppelin.

1980

In June a new single, the reggae and disco-tinged "Emotional Rescue," trailers the album of the same name and hits the Top 10.

1981

August sees "Start Me Up" motor into the Top 10 as a slashing kickstart trailer for the upcoming album, Tattoo You, which also includes the warm follow-up single, "Waiting On A Friend." The Stones undertake the first of periodic mega-tours which sees them astride a colossal stadium-stage, complete with hydraulic platforms and huge avant garde paintings.

1982

The Stones tour hits Europe, including several nights at London's Wembley Stadium. In June, the Stones release Still Life, a live album drawn from the '81 American gigs along with the group's cover of "Going To A Go Go."

1983

It's August and in typical Stones fashion, an agreement is reached and signed at 3:00 a.m. in Paris' Ritz Hotel by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and CBS head Walter Yetnikoff. The deal is reportedly worth 28 million dollars and calls for the Stones to deliver four studio albums.

In October, the "Undercover Of The Night" single is unveiled with the theme of South American political unrest dominating an epic video directed by Julian Temple. Mick's execution scene stirs some controversy while Keith sports a skull mask and a gun. The single reached the Top 10, as did the album with its peel-the-stickers-off-the-stripper sleeve.

1985

In February, the Stones are in Paris recording Dirty Work at Pathe-Marconi Studio. Mick Jagger releases his first solo album, She's The Boss. In June he duets with David Bowie on the specially recorded version of "Dancing In The Street" for Live Aid. Mick also appears at the all-day event in Philadelphia, singing a saucy duet with Tina Turner in which he whips off her skirt. It's his first ever live solo set performed in front of 1.5 billion viewers. Later that day, Keith and Ronnie flank Bob Dylan for an acoustic set to close the show at JFK Stadium. Three months later, Keith and Ronnie repeat their acoustic act, backing Bono for a version of "Silver And Gold," which appears on the Artists United Against Apartheid album.

Later that year, the Stones begin work on a new album. Near the end of the sessions -- which the group later admit were not their most harmonious -- their road manager, soul brother and "Sixth Stone" Ian Stewart dies of a massive heart attack in London at the age of 47. Ian had been with the group since the start and still played piano on stage. "We all felt the glue had come unstuck," says a grieving Keith.

1986

"Harlem Shuffle" -- a cover of Bob & Earl's 1964 hit featuring soul legend Bobby Womack on backing vocals -- is released in March and hits the Top 20. The Dirty Work album follows and is dedicated to Ian Stewart. It closes with one of Keith's most moving ballads, "Sleep Tonight." Again there is no tour although Charlie takes the big band across the States later that year and repeats the exercise during lulls in the Stones' schedule from then on.

1987

Keith records his first solo album for Virgin Records at Montreal's Le Studio. Taylor Hackford's Chuck Berry tribute, Hail! Hail! Rock'N'Roll, opens in October. Keith is the musical director of the movie, which features performances by Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Richards himself.

1988

Mick releases his second solo album, Primitive Cool, and enjoys an hugely successful tour of Japan and Australia. In September, Keith's debut album, Talk Is Cheap, is released. He follows this with a three-week sold-out tour of the U.S. with his back-up band, the X-Pensive Winos. "Take It So Hard" is the first single and video released.

On October 16th, Keith, whose house in Jamaica suffered hurricane damage, guests at the "Smile Jamaica" hurricane relief benefit concert at the Dominion Theater, London. He plays two songs with U2-- "Love Rescue Me" and "When Love Comes To Town."

1989

At the start of the year, the Rolling Stones are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Mick, Keith, Ron and Mick Taylor are present at the ceremony held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The absence of Wyman and presence of Taylor sparks rumors that the Stones will tour with Taylor replacing Wyman, and Ron Wood will move to the bass. Pete Townshend helps induct the Stones, telling them in his speech, "Guys, whatever you do, don't try to grow old gracefully. It wouldn't suit you." Mick replies in his own speech: "After a lifetime of bad behavior, it's slightly ironic that tonight you see us on our best behavior." Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Mick Taylor join the now-expected all-star jam session, during which Mick duets with Tina Turner on "Honky Tonk Women," and with Little Richard on "Can't Turn You Loose" and "Bony Moronie." He then brings down the house with "Start Me Up."

Keith releases his second video "Make No Mistake," directed by Paula Grief, from Talk Is Cheap in March. In May, he is presented with the "Living Legend Award" at the International Rock Awards.

Earlier, Mick and Keith meet at Eddy Grant's studio in Barbados to see if they can still write songs together. Before the meeting, there's speculation as to whether the two can still remain in the same room. Two months later, they have 12 new tunes ready, plus the usual welter of unfinished ideas. Working like they did on the classic albums of the '60's and '70's -- from the groundfloor and building -- they come out with a string of gems, which are then honed and bashed into shape by the whole group at George Martin's AIR Studios in Montserrat with Chris Kimsey co-producing. The band whack everything down live in five weeks, with mixing to follow in London.

In July, the Rolling Stones hold a press conference at New York's Grand Central Station to announce their forthcoming Steel Wheels tour and album. Mick holds up a ghetto blaster and plays the new "Mixed Emotions" single to the assembled world media. It's released in August and puts the group back onto the world's charts.

Steel Wheels is a Stones classic. A complete album of new stuff, as opposed to touched up old demos like much of the late-'70's and '80's output. The sound is raw and bristling on tracks like the first single, "Mixed Emotions," but the album also proves the band can still deliver gorgeous ballads like "Almost Hear You Sigh," or Keith's lovely "Slippin' Away."

While the album is generally acclaimed as the group's best in years, the group make it a double whammy with the awesome scope and spectacle of the "Steel Wheels" tour. The stage set is the biggest ever, a surreal post-nuclear nightmare factory, all girders, funnels and catwalks bathed in ferocious lighting and walls of fire and smoke. The set straddles the Stones' entire career in over two hours with every song a piece-de-resistance -- from the giant inflatable "Honky Tonk Women" to Mick's materialization one hundred feet above the stage for "Sympathy." The group play like their lives depend on it, and also like they were having a total blast.

Starting in Philadelphia on August 30, the huge operation (a veritable mobile army) goes on to play around 70 gigs. In December, the U.S. leg ends up at the Atlantic City Convention Center for a radio-TV simulcast. Guests include John Lee Hooker, Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin from Guns 'N Roses, and Eric Clapton.

1990

In February, the Stones tour Japan for the first time with 10 sold-out shows at Tokyo's Korakuen Dome, playing to 50,000 a night. For Europe, Steel Wheels gives way to Urban Jungle -- partly because European stadiums aren't big enough for the huge set, partly because they just fancied a change of scenery. The new stage resembles a post-nuclear tropical ruin, with giant inflatable dogs appearing during "Street Fighting Man." It hits London's Wembley Stadium in July, then again in August at the end of the tour, with the resurrection of the Steel Wheels set. Over the past year, the Stones have played 115 shows to over six million people.

1991

All five members of the band immerse themselves in solo projects. In November, at the London office of the Stones' financial advisor Rupert Loewenstein, Mick, Keith, Charlie, Ronnie are present for the signing of the Stones' deal with Virgin Records.

1992

The Stones take the year off to recharge their batteries. Meanwhile Richards records and releases his second solo album, Main Offender, on Virgin. He tours Europe and then goes where no Stone has gone before -- Argentina, where the X-Pensive Winos play to a Buenos Aires crowd of 40,000.

1993

The Stones celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of their first single. During a live interview on the BBC's "London Tonight" news program in January, Bill Wyman finally makes it official: "I really don't want to do it anymore." Regarding his efforts to prevent Bill from quitting, Keith states: "I did everything but hold him at gunpoint." Also in January, Ronnie plays the first of four solo concerts in Japan, wrapping up on the 14th at Tokyo's Budokan. Meanwhile, Mick releases his third solo album, Wandering Spirit. The night of the release, Mick plays a private concert for 1,200 invited guests at New York's Webster Hall. Guests include Robert De Niro and Francis Ford Coppola. Mick performs 11 songs from his new album, then encores with the Stones' "Rip This Joint," "Live With Me," and "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby (Standing In The Shadows)?" The tour ends with sell-out shows in Tokyo. Three days later in Seattle, Keith opens the U.S. leg of his Main Offender tour. Later in the year, Billy Joel ind
ucts Keith into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

1994

After pre-production in Barbados, the Stones gather in Dublin, Ireland at Windmill Studios to start work on a new album. Their first under a new deal with Virgin, the band sees much of the back catalogue re-mastered on CD. Don Was is picked as co-producer of Voodoo Lounge alongside the Glimmer Twins. Was, who made his name with the surreal rock 'n' soul of Was Not Was, has recently produced Bonnie Raitt, the B-52's, Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop. Bassist Darryl Jones and keyboard player Chuck Leavell are called in to help out. Other guests include Ivan Neville, Bobby Womack, Bernard Fowler, Benmont Tench, Flaco Jimenez and Luis Jardim.

The results are staggering. As virtually all reviews have pointed out, Voodoo Lounge is peak Stones; a group firing on all cylinders. After the success of the Steel Wheels project, the Stones know they have nothing to prove and the new sound seems less self-conscious and more inventive than their recent work. It's the sound of a group getting together and raising the hell they know and love. Mick's singing is stronger and more expressive than usual, notably on the chilling anti-terrorism ballad "Blinded By Rainbows," and lascivious car song "Brand New Car," which is in the best tradition of double entendre blues. Like all Rolling Stones classic albums, each song is propelled by Keith's explosive guitar riffs and underpinned by Charlie's ferocious drumming.

The album and its accompanying tour is announced in New York -- this time after the group arrive via boat at Pier 60. The tour kicks off on August 1 at Washington. D.C.'s RFK Stadium, and plays the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico, South America and the Far East. As Bobby Keys, long time Stones sax player, once remarked in a choice moment during the 1971 outing: "Looks like rock 'n' roll is on the road again!"

And how! The Voodoo Lounge tour launches with a shower of praise from critics and fans alike. In between playing to sold-out shows in stadiums across the U.S., the Stones find time to pick up an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, plus a Billboard Award for Artistic Excellence. The band also make history on November 10, when they become the first rock 'n' roll band to broadcast a concert live on the Internet. By the end of the year, sales of the Voodoo Lounge album pass the four million mark, and the North American leg of the tour is written into the record books as the most successful tour in history.

1995

The year starts in Stones' usual breathless fashion -- this time because of the high altitude of Mexico City's Autodromo Stadium. A lack of oxygen was no problem throughout the South American leg of the tour. Having never played South America as a band before, the Stones are greeted with a fever-pitch hysteria that's overwhelming, even by Latin standards. In Argentina, they are mobbed wherever they go and are kept awake by 5:00 a.m. reprises of the chorus of "Wild Horses."

The band sweep through South Africa, a seven-night sell-out stand at the Tokyo Dome, and Australasia before embarking on the final leg of the tour in Europe on June 3 in Stockholm. In Montpellier, they are joined on stage by Bob Dylan for the aptly-titled "Like a Rolling Stone." The band later release their version of the song as a single. While on the road, the band find time to stop and record acoustic versions of classics like "Street Fighting Man," and more arcane numbers like "Spider and the Fly" and "I'm Free." These tracks make up the live acoustic album Stripped. The tour ends in Rotterdam on August 30 with the promise that this will definitely not be the last time.

While the release of Stripped is seen as a present-day celebration of past glories, the Stones end the year by re-enforcing their commitment to the future by making it enhanced with multimedia content. The band also launch their second official website (Stonesworld) and release their debut CD-ROM (Voodoo Lounge).

1996

Even when not active, the Stones are everywhere, with music featured in Casino (released late in '95), Basquiat (in which Keith also has a song called "Nearness to You" recorded in 1980), and The Fan. Meanwhile, the band once again get involved in solo projects. Charlie Watts is the first to break cover with the release of his quintet's Long Ago & Far Away, which features classics from the likes of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Hoagy Carmichael. At his home in Jamaica, Keith completes production work on an album which features traditional Rastafarian Bingi drums (to be released later this year).

1997

The Stones continue to redefine rock music and themselves in the process. The ageless rockers begin recording the follow-up to Voodoo Lounge in a Los Angeles studio with executive producer Don Was and producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. The Dust Brothers (Beck, the Beastie Boys) take over behind the mixing board, with mixer/producer Danny Saber (who has re-mixed tracks for U2 and Garbage) and Was also producing a few songs each. Bridges To Babylon is released in the fall.

1998

In November, the Stones chronicle their 1998 tour with the release of No Security, their third live album of the dec

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Yes Biography


Yes was the quintessential English art-rock band, with all the excess and all the glory that entails. Loaded with too much virtuosity, too many ideas and too many personnel changes for one band to deal with, Yes has produced its share of spotty albums over the past 20 years. Yet during its classic period (lasting between 1970's The Yes Album and 1977's Going For The One) Yes was almost consistently inspired. Anyone needing to defend art-rock only has to pull out the side-long title track of Close To The Edge (1972): It never got more visceral or more melodically soaring than that.

Initially Yes was simply a pop group that got very, very ambitious. Their first two albums have some R&B traces, thanks to the more basic styles of guitarist Peter Banks and keyboardist Tony Kaye, who both got weeded out early. Yet the delicate, almost feminine tones of singer Jon Anderson proved an early trademark, along with the jazz leanings of the rhythm section (bassist Chris Squire and drummer Bill Bruford, replaced in 1972 by the heavier-hitting Alan White). With the arrival of guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, Yes was free to explore the rock-symphony approach they aspired to.

Their ambitions reached a peak on 1973's Tales From Topographic Oceans--a four-song, lyrically dense double album that even Wakeman found excessive (he exited for a year, replaced by Patrick Moraz)--yet there were more than enough lovely and powerful moments to justify the stretch. Reunited with Wakeman after a year making solo albums, Yes stripped down to relative basics and made its last great album with 1977's Going For The One. Since then the band's inability to settle on a permanent lineup, coupled with the inevitable career fatigue, has kept them from hitting the same peaks. Anderson and Wakeman left in 1979, replaced by the two members of the Buggles (the resulting album, Drama, was nowhere near as bad as it could have been). Yes was then laid to rest until 1983, when Anderson, Kaye, Squire and White formed a new lineup with guitarist/singer Trevor Rabin. At first Rabin's mainstream instincts were just what the band needed--the 1983 album 90125 was both creative and commercial, if not quite the cosmic Yes of old--but wound up taking far too much control and made Yes sound too ordinary.

Anderson rebelled and pulled in the other ex-members for a competing band, clumsily billed as Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, Howe--but that didn't work either, thanks to overdone production and spotty material. The nadir came when some unfinished AWBH demos were cobbled together with some Rabin outtakes as a Yes album, Union; an eight-man lineup cashed in with a reunion tour. The closest thing to a real comeback happened when the Topographic Oceans lineup reunited in 1996 for Keys To Ascension, a live album of great Yes obscurities, plus a surprisingly solid studio section (two new songs totaling 30 minutes, their first long suites in years). A finished studio follow-up album was said to be even better; yet it was shelved in 1997 when Wakeman left the band again. The remaining diehard Yes fans are undoubtedly used to such ups and downs by now.

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Saga


Saga has traveled many roads since the time Michael Sadler would drop by Jim Crichton’s house to write songs in between shifts as a Toronto cab driver. Twenty-four years on from those formative afternoons, Saga has toured the globe and has well over 8 million albums in sales.

Saga opened their campaign on the Toronto and district club circuit with an uncompromising brand of original music. For the first live show - on June 13th, 1977 - the band had prepared 20 to 30 original songs. Sadler recalls that evening: “That night, we filled the place with friends. Since most agents were wary of using acts that didn't do cover versions. We didn't care what was fashionable at all. In fact, we quickly realized that fashions could change overnight, so we just stuck to playing what we wanted to play”.

Within six months, Michael Sadler, Jim and Ian Crichton, Steve Negus and Peter Rochon had perfected the material that found its way onto their self-titled debut album. In a move that also articulated their business savvy, the band elected to finance the project on their own. Their first album appeared on Polygram Records in Canada and was soon transferred to their own label. “We believed in what we were doing” says Jim. “We wanted to be able to say: Here's the package, the record, the jacket, the works”.

Saga's debut recording was released in June 1978, then occurred one of those fortunate twists of fate that the music industry is renowned for. A record outlet decided to export a number of records to Germany. Within a few weeks the band’s debut went on to sell 30,000 copies as an import. Then Polygram, not slow to catch on, quickly signed Saga for Continental Europe. By this time, the band had also mapped out the script for a sixteen-song science fiction story, to be split among many albums in a non-sequential order, in fact this recording had only Chapters 5 & 6. This was Saga’s first endeavor at a more cinematic approach to music.

With international feedback gaining momentum, Saga returned to the studio to produce their second LP “Images at Twilight”. It was at this time that keyboard player Peter Rochon was replaced by Gregg Chadd. On their third album, “Silent Knight”, current keyboard player Jim Gilmour replaced Gregg Chadd.

In 1981, Saga would grab their first Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy award), for Most Promising Group. With German interest growing all the time, success in the United States continued to elude them until 1983, when they released the hugely successful “Worlds Apart” album with this recording all ready in the European and Canadian Markets for over a year. From the start of the US release it was straight up hill to the top. Produced by Rupert Hine, the album entered the Billboard Top 10 and included two top 40 singles, most notably “On the Loose” which reached the number 3 mark on the Billboard “Hot 100”. The album itself went on to amass gold and platinum awards in the U.S., Canada and most major European territories. Saga always in the forefront new technology became one of the pioneers of the MTV music video scene.

Saga's achievements in the studio were equaled (and some-might say) eclipsed by their accomplishments on the road. As a first rate live attraction, sell-out tours of Europe and Canada continued. This provided the basis for the group’s fifth album - “In Transit” - the first fully digital CD by a rock band.

The follow-up studio album was also collaboration with Rupert Hine, entitled: “Heads or Tales”. Once again the band enjoyed international success with sales stronger than ever in Europe and Canada. The album went to number one on German charts, and was a top 5 record in most other European territories. It was on St. Valentine's night, 1982, that Saga had the distinction of becoming the first Canadian rock band to perform behind the Iron Curtain, playing before over 10,000 fans at the opening of a new sports arena in Budapest. Saga was also presented with the prestigious German Gold Ticket Award, for being the year’s top selling concert act.

In 1985 Saga released the critically acclaimed album “Behaviour”, but by 1986, after several years of constant touring and recording, the band found them selves wanting a break. It was at this time that founding member Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour decided to exit the group and pursue other musical interests. In 1987, the remaining three members of Saga continued on to record “Wildest Dreams” with the production seat this time taken by Keith Olson, one of the most successful producers in the music industry. The self produced: “The Beginners Guide To Throwing Shapes”, followed two years later, along with the Band’s contribution to the motion picture soundtrack “Johnny B. Good”.

In 1991, after a six-year hiatus, Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour rejoined the Band. After an extensive tour to test the waters the band re-entered the studio in September of 1992 and then in April of 1993, the band released its tenth studio album, the energetic “The Security Of Illusion”. This was positive news to the band’s many loyal fans that had been “demanding” to see the original Saga together in the studio again.

In 1993 with the original line-up in place and with again new horizons to be met the band set up house so to speak in California in Crichton’s Sound Image Studio’s and soon found themselves writing, producing and performing music for the television series “Cobra”, bringing Saga once again into a ground breaking field for bands to follow. It was in 1994, that Saga released “Steel Umbrellas”, a new album from those sessions.

Not slowing down or be a group to sit on their achievements Saga set right back into the studio for their most ambitious effort yet. In 1995 Saga completed the project entitled “Generation 13”, a 25 song “rock-opera” which explores contemporary images of the dysfunctional family and the survival of the planet. This seventy plus minute musical extravaganza includes a new musical direction, custom-made synthesizers, orchestral moments, a pipe organ, and spoken moments. “Generation 13 is a reaffirmation of Saga's artistic vision” says Jim Crichton. “It just has to make you feel something”.

With the release of Generation 13, Saga once again pleased its longtime fans while shocking those with outmoded preconceptions of what the band sounds like. An emotional story, along with peerless musicianship, combine to make this recording, one of their most important accomplishments to date.

In 1995, Saga once again found themselves on the forefront of technology as they produced a unique multimedia retrospective - “The Saga Softworks” - An enhanced CD ROM digital retrospective of Saga - Past, Present, and Beyond.

Currently, the rapid expansion of the Internet has resulted in a gathering place for Saga fans to converse and find out the latest information on the band. To date, there are many different sites maintained by fans. A fan community called Worlds Apart can be found at www.worldsapart.ca.

The next chapter in Saga's career began in 1997 with the release of “ Pleasure and the Pain”. In addition, Saga introduced another innovative way to communicate with their fans. For one week in, a bus full of lucky people from 5 different countries traveled with the band and crew. With 1997 being a milestone year for Saga The Band’s efforts would not pass unrecognized when at a show in Offenbach Germany on June 13 the show was stop and Saga was presented citations from the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Ontario, in celebration of their 20th Anniversary together and as musical ambassadors of Canada.

1998 saw the release of Saga's long awaited second live album “Detours”, a 2 CD set recorded in Germany, Austria and Holland. Released throughout Europe, North America and Japan,, the career retrospective contains: 22 songs, and with Saga once again leading the wave of technology, this offering included one live video on each disc, and a bonus hidden track, making this a 25 song package.

Late 1999 Saga released Full Circle, which marked the musical return to the very elements of their earlier recordings. “The new songs might as well stem from the time of "Worlds Apart or Heads or Tales" comments Jim Crichton, who Produced Full Circle. “The material on Full Circle sounds classic but is certainly neither archaic nor dated”. He’s talking about songs like the opener ´Remember When (Chapter 9)`, which contains all of the important elements of the familiar Saga sound, ´Night To Remember` with it’s driving groove, and the return of several other signature Saga traits the first return of the Chapters after long absence, “with only eight of the sixteen chapters told to date it was time to continue the story” says Crichton.

For 2001 the band released their latest and most current recording House of Cards “At the beginning of our career we described our style jokingly as ´medieval funk` but these days we no longer need fantasy terms to define our music. It’s simply Saga.” Listening to ´God Knows`, the opener of the new album, it becomes immediately apparent what Crichton is talking about: it’s hardly possible to imagine a more timeless Saga anthem. After a few minutes House Of Cards proves to be an intense and inventive Saga recording with lots of wonderful songs as well as the continuation of the ´chapters` series.

The single Money talks was quite a success for a 24 year old band with the video breaking the top 5 at Much More Music in Canada up against all of the Boy bands which seem to dominate the video market these days.

As 2001 winds down Saga once again set out to record the next installment in a long fruitful Career. The year 2002 will mark the 25th anniversary of Saga. The year will be marked with a DVD filming in the summer to commemorate this milestone. In February of 2003 the band will release their 15th studio album, in addition to this the band will have there entire 20 CD catalogue re-master and re-released over the year 2002.

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Megadeth


After he left Metallica in 1983, guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine formed the thrash metal quartet Megadeth. Though Megadeth followed the basic blueprint of Metallica's relentless attack, Mustaine's group distinguished themselves from his earlier band by lessening the progressive rock influences, adding an emphasis on instrumental skills, speeding the tempo up slightly, and making the instrumental attack harsher. By streamlining the classic thrash metal approach and making the music more threatening, as well as making the lyrics more nihilistic, Megadeth became one of the leading bands of the genre during the mid-'80s and late '80s. Each album they released went at least gold, and they continually sold out arenas across America, in addition to developing a strong following overseas. By the early '90s, they had toned their music down slightly, yet that simply increased their following; all of their proper '90s albums debuted in the Top Ten.

Throughout Megadeth's many lineup changes, the two core members were bassist Dave Ellefson and guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine (born September 13, 1961), who was the band's official leader. Mustaine grew up in the suburbs of Southern California, where he was raised by his mother in a broken home; frequently, his mother left him to be raised by aunts and uncles, who never encouraged his musical inclinations and often belittled him for his fondness for heavy metal. In 1981, he formed Metallica with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Mustaine spent two years with Metallica, developing a strong cult following in California's underground metal scene, before he was kicked out of the group in 1983, allegedly over his substance abuse. Immediately following his firing, he formed Megadeth with Ellefson, Slayer guitarist Kerry King, and drummer Lee Rauch. This lineup was extremely short-lived, and Mustaine and Ellefson soon recruited guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelson.

For the next few years, Megadeth toured and gained a following, signing with the independent label Combat in late 1984. The following year, the group released their debut, Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good!, which received strong reviews, not only in metal-oriented publications, but also in mainstream music magazines. The album sold very well for an independent release, which attracted the attention of major record labels. By the end of the year, the group had signed with Capitol. Megadeth's first major-label album, Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, was released in the fall of 1986. Like its predecessor, Peace Sells was greeted by strong reviews and sales; it eventually went platinum.

Although the band's fortunes were on the upswing, Mustaine was beginning to sink deeper into drug abuse, specifically heroin. Soon, his addictions began to affect his work. Many stories concerning his erratic behavior were circulating within the metal community, and they seemed to be proven correct when he fired both Poland and Samuelson before the recording of the band's third album; they were replaced by Jeff Young and Chuck Behler, respectively. The new lineup debuted on So Far, So Good...So What!, released early in 1988. So Far, So Good peaked at number 28 on the charts and also eventually went platinum (despite less enthusiastic reviews); it also featured a notorious cover of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK" with incorrect lyrics.

In the years immediately following the release of So Far, So Good...So What!, Mustaine was impaired by his drug addictions. In early 1990, he was arrested for driving under the influence and entered a rehabilitation program. By the end of the year, he was not only sober, but he had reconvened the band, firing Young and Behler and replacing them with guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza. This lineup recorded Megadeth's fourth and most progressive album, Rust in Peace. The record peaked at number 23 on the American charts and went platinum. 1991 saw Metallica break through to the mainstream, and sensing the possibility for similar success, Mustaine followed suit in stripping down the band's sound, though it remained as technically perfectionistic as Rust in Peace. The result, Countdown to Extinction, was released in 1992, entering the charts at number two; the record went double platinum and became the band's biggest hit, confirming that they had retained their audience in the wake of grunge.

Now one of the most popular metal bands in the world, Megadeth moved further toward the mainstream with Youthanasia in 1994, which entered the charts at number four and, like its predecessor, went platinum. The following year, the group released Hidden Treasures, a rarities collection that featured some of the soundtrack tunes that had helped expand the group's MTV audience in the early '90s. 1997's Cryptic Writings found Megadeth fully embraced by album rock radio, which formerly would never have touched the band. Ex-Suicidal Tendencies drummer Jimmy DeGrasso signed on in 1998, in time for the following year's Risk. In 2000, following the release of the best-of Capitol Punishment, Marty Friedman followed Nick Menza out the door; he was replaced by former Savatage and Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli. After signing with the BMG subsidiary Sanctuary, Megadeth debuted its new lineup on 2001's The World Needs a Hero.

While on break from touring, Mustaine suffered a serious injury in January 2002 while staying in Texas. He was diagnosed with having radial neuropathy shortly thereafter, a condition that prevented him from playing guitar. The compressed radial nerves in his left arm and hand were strained, leaving Megadeth little recourse but to disband in April 2002, after almost 20 years in the music industry. During his time off, Mustaine prepared an elaborate reissue campaign, remastering each album and reissuing them all with bonus material. This campaign set the stage for a Megadeth revival, which came in 2004-2005 with a surprising comeback album, The System Has Failed, and some heavy touring. Capitol released a new best-of, simply titled Greatest Hits, just as Megadeth hit the summer concert circuit, headlining Mustaine's own Gigantour festival. In 2007, Megadeth released the politically charged United Abominations, followed by the similarly apocalyptic Endgame in 2009

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Cassiopea (Jazz Fusion Master from Japan)


Casiopea was a Japanese jazz fusion band that was formed in 1976 by guitarist Issei Noro and bassist Tetsuo Sakurai. In 1977, keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya and drummer Takashi Sasaki joined the group. The group debuted with the album Casiopea in 1979, and 30 albums or more have since been released. In 1980, the drummer seat is replaced by Akira Jimbo.

The album Eyes of the Mind was released in the United States in 1981. They then released the album Mint Jams in 1982, followed by Four by Four in the same year, which is a collaborative album with some of Fourplay members including Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Nathan East and Don Grusin. Their first foreign concert was held in the United Kingdom in 1983. The group has toured Europe, South America, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

In 1989, Akira Jimbo and Tetsuo Sakurai left the band following several years of musical differences. They named their own band, Jimsaku. For the replacement, the group chose Yoshihiro Naruse (bass) and Masaaki Hiyama (drums).

In 1993, the group once again change its members. Noriaki Kumagai came to replace Masaaki. Then from 1997 Akira Jimbo returned to Casiopea, this time as a part-time member, recording more albums and again contributing some of the compositions.

In 2006, Issei Noro, the group’s leader, decided to freeze all activities of the band until further notice.

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Led Zeppelin


The Yardbird's played their final show at Luton Technical College in 1968. But what was seemingly an end; turned out to be the beginning of three tremendously successful careers in music. The careers of guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. It's seems the three couldn't agree on anything creatively in the Yardbirds. They were all leaders.

After the bands break-up, Jimmy Page was left with little more than a series of concert obligations. He started jamming with John Paul Jones, a session player, who had collaborated with likes of the Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits and Dusty Springfield. The duo discussed forming a new group, but ended up delaying their plans to back Donovan on his Hurdy Gurdy LP.

After hearing of Pages' intention of starting a new band, vocalist Terry Reid suggested he hear Robert Plant. When Page got a chance to check Plant out, Jimmy not only ended up liking his voice, but also his stage presence. Plant, in turn, suggested they recruit John Bonham, the drummer of his old Birmingham group, Band of Joy. The foursome clicked so nicely that they toured Scandinavia during October 1968 under the name the New Yardbirds.

By 1969 the group changed their name to Led Zeppelin, recorded, and released their first self-titled album. Within two months the album reached Billboard's Top Ten. The album is essentially Zeppelin most blues-driven release. Page's early style drew so heavily on the blues that Willie Dixon later won a large settlement for the copyright infringement. Rumour has it that a few of song titles off the first release ripped off old blues titles; they only changed one word in these songs catch phrases.

Led Zeppelin II and every release after has attained Platinum status, and in 1973 the group began to break box-office records set by the Beatles. By 1975 Led Zeppelin was the most commercially successful rock band in the world.

The group broke up after the tragic death of drummer John Bonham. He died from what is medically termed as asphyxiation: inhaling his own vomit during sleep after a drinking binge. His hard-hitting style has so integral to the bands sound that the remaining members decided to call it quits. Without Bonham there could be no Led Zeppelin.

The mighty Zeppelin has experimented with several musical styles over the bands reign. Their sound began with Blues and thunderous Heavy Metal, softened to mystical Folk and tumbled into the realm of Funk, Psychedelic Rock, and the fusion and integration of all these styles. Perhaps this is why their music has attained the lasting value that only two other groups have been able to secure, the Beatles and Pink Floyd.

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The Who


Few bands in the history of rock & roll were riddled with as many contradictions as the Who. All four members had wildly different personalities, as their notoriously intense live performances demonstrated. The group was a whirlwind of activity, as the wild Keith Moon fell over his drum kit and Pete Townshend leaped into the air with his guitar, spinning his right hand in exaggerated windmills. Vocalist Roger Daltrey strutted across the stage with a thuggish menace, as bassist John Entwistle stood silent, functioning as the eye of the hurricane. These divergent personalities frequently clashed, but these frictions also resulted in a decade's worth of remarkable music -- it took some five years to find their audience, but at the tail end of the 1960s they suddenly achieved a level of popularity rivaling the Rolling Stones, both as a live act and in album sales.

As one of the key figures of the British Invasion and the mod movement of the mid-'60s, the Who were a dynamic and undeniably powerful sonic force. They often sounded like they were exploding conventional rock and R&B structures with Townshend's furious guitar chords, Entwistle's hyperactive basslines, and Moon's vigorous, seemingly chaotic drumming. Unlike most rock bands, the Who based their rhythm on Townshend's guitar, letting Moon and Entwistle improvise wildly over his foundation, while Daltrey belted out his vocals. This was the sound the Who thrived on in concert, but on record they were a different proposition, as Townshend pushed the group toward new sonic territory. He soon became regarded as one of the finest British songwriters of his era, rivaling John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, as songs like "The Kids Are Alright" and "My Generation" became teenage anthems, and his rock opera, Tommy, earned him respect from mainstream music critics.

Townshend continually pushed the band toward more ambitious territory, incorporating white noise, pop art, and conceptual extended musical pieces into the group's style. The remainder of the Who, especially Entwistle and Daltrey, weren't always eager to follow him in his musical explorations, especially after the success of his first rock opera, Tommy. Instead, they wanted to stick to their hard rock roots, playing brutally loud, macho music instead of Townshend's textured song suites and vulnerable pop songs. Eventually, this resulted in the group abandoning their adventurous spirit in the mid-'70s, as they settled into their role as arena rockers. The Who continued on this path even after the death of Moon in 1978, and even after they disbanded in the early '80s, as they reunited numerous times in the late '80s and '90s to tour America. The group's relentless pursuit of the dollar was largely due to Entwistle and Daltrey, who never found successful solo careers, but it had the unfortunate side effect of tarnishing their reputation for many longtime fans. However, there's little argument that at their peak the Who were one of the most innovative and powerful bands in rock history.

Townshend and Entwistle met while attending high school in the Shepherd's Bush area of London. In their early teens, they played in a Dixieland band together, with Entwistle playing trumpet and Townshend playing banjo. By the early '60s, the pair had formed a rock & roll band, but Entwistle departed in 1962 to play in the Detours, a hard-edged rock & roll band featuring a sheet-metal worker named Roger Daltrey on lead guitar (and trombone!). By the end of the year, Townshend had joined as a rhythm guitarist, and in 1963 Daltrey gave up his guitar chores -- a consequence of his day job as a metal worker -- and became the group's lead vocalist after Colin Dawson (followed briefly by another singer named Gabby, who didn't last) left the band. The group's sound evolved rapidly during this period, and was especially influenced not only by American acts such as James Brown, Booker T. & the MG's, and Eddie Cochran -- each of whom had songs represented in the group's repertory -- but also one classic British act, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, with whom they shared a bill.

Johnny Kidd (real name Frederick Heath) had been together since the late '50s, and rocked the British charts with an original called "Shakin' All Over" (which Townshend and company also added to their set list); they'd built their reputation on their fierce renditions of American-style R&B, which relied heavily on a lean single guitar/bass/drums approach, with the single guitarist -- very unusual in England during this period in any recording act -- playing both the rhythm and lead parts. Hearing and seeing their presentation up close while playing support to them, Townshend was impressed and realized that he took naturally to that approach, and the Detours were down to a single guitar in short order. A name change also followed, as the group sought to keep its image and profile out in front of the curve of popular culture -- with the Beatles burning up the charts, something better and more striking that the Detours was called for, and between Daltrey and Townshend thrashing it out, they settled on the Who, which confused people in conversation at first but worked great (and memorably) on posters. Within a few more months, amid all of these changes, original drummer Doug Sandom -- who was considerably older than the others, and married -- had parted ways with the Detours, just as they were about to try and make the jump to cutting a record. In his place, the group added Keith Moon, who had previously drummed with a surf rock band called the Beachcombers.

As the group struggled to get a break, Townshend attended art school, while the remaining three worked odd jobs. Soon, the band became regulars at the Marquee Club in London and attracted a small following, which led to the interest of manager Pete Meaden. Under the direction of Meaden, the Who changed their name to the High Numbers and began dressing in sharp suits, all in order to appeal to the style- and R&B-obsessed mods -- in the social order of early-'60s English youth, the mods were fiercely independent teenagers, originally of middle-class (by British standards) origins, who began gathering together in working-class clubs, initially around London, in the early '60s; they dressed somewhat like Edwardian dandies, and were mostly interested in dancing, which they could do for hours under the influence of the pills that they seemed to pop incessantly; they also lived their lives after work around likes and dislikes that could provoke verbal altercations and even physical violence under the right circumstances. Many R&B-oriented groups tried to cultivate relationships with the ranks of the mods, who were fiercely loyal and could fill clubs and help propel a record onto the charts -- among those who succeeded best, along with the Who, were the Small Faces ("face" being a part of mod slang) and the Move.

The High Numbers released one single, "I'm the Face" -- between their new name and the record, the band was pushing important buttons among their target audience, "high number" and "face" both being important parts of the vernacular. The record was, in typical fashion for the time, comprised of two songs written by their manager, Meaden -- though "I'm the Face," as a composition, wasn't much more than "Got Love If You Want It" retooled with mod lyrics. After the single bombed, the group ditched him and began working with Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, two fledgling music business entrepreneurs who had previously failed as film directors -- Lambert was the son of composer Constant Lambert, while Stamp was the brother of actor Terence Stamp (best remembered today for his role as Julie Christie's roguish husband in the 1967 movie Far from the Madding Crowd), and both were anxious to make their mark in the now suddenly percolating and fermenting popular culture scene in England. It was Lambert who first spotted the group playing one night at the Railway Hotel, in the wake of the "I'm the Face" single, and brought Stamp in, and between the two they rescued the Who (or the High Numbers, as they were calling themselves at that moment). Instead of moving the band away from mod, Lambert and Stamp encouraged them to embrace the movement, offering them advice on both what to play and what to wear, including pushing the target T-shirt that became a key visual signature. The group reclaimed the Who name and began playing a set that consisted entirely of soul, R&B, and Motown -- or, as their posters said, "Maximum R&B."

It was also during this period that, completely by accident, at a gig at the Railway Hotel, Townshend smashed his first guitar. It happened by accident, because of a temporary stage extension that the band had built, which was higher than the stage itself, and caused him to accidentally hit the ceiling with his instrument -- frustrated by his damaging of the instrument, and the crowd's reaction, he struck it again, and again, and soon it was in pieces, and it was only by using a 12-string Rickenbacker that he'd recently gotten that Townshend was able to finish the show. The following week, he discovered that people had heard about this, and had come to the Railway Hotel to see him smash his guitar. He eventually obliged with encouragement from Keith Moon, who attacked his drum kit -- and while Lambert and Stamp were at first appalled, Townshend smashed another guitar to pieces a little bit later with Lambert's encouragement, as part of his publicity campaign (and it worked, despite the fact that the journalist for whose benefit he committed the destruction never actually saw it). In reality, he didn't smash guitars at every show in those days, and what he was doing, in terms of generating feedback, sufficed in most audience's minds -- smashing the guitar, when it did take place, only punctuated the feedback. It did enhance their status with the mods, however, and by late 1964, they had developed an enthusiastic following -- they loved destruction as part of an act (at one point the Move were smashing television picture tubes on-stage; the Small Faces, by contrast, never needed anything so obvious, their one "gimmick" being little Steve Marriott screaming like a dervish).

At the end of the year, Townshend was able to present the group with an original song called "I Can't Explain," which owed a little bit to the Kinks hit "You Really Got Me," but had lots of fresh angles. Townshend's lyrics, in particular, gave a vivid, visceral impression of teenage angst and uncertainty that Daltrey could sing in his powerful, ballsy manner, while the band attacked the music full-bore, and the result was a song that was punchy, sensitive, and macho all in one, with a lean, mean lead guitar opening and break and even some harmonies in there as were expected in British rock & roll; even better, the words managed to be crude and bold and sensitive (in their peculiar way) -- it seemed like a great potential debut single for the newly rechristened Who. Not only did the band and their managers think so, but so did producer Shel Talmy, an American based in England who was already making lots of noise producing the Kinks' records (including "You Really Got Me"). Talmy got the band a contract with the American Decca Records label on the strength of "I Can't Explain" and followed this with a contract with English Decca (the two companies had been closely related at one time -- and were again as of 2000 -- but had divided into separate entities in the 1950s).

The single, produced by Talmy, was released to little attention in January 1965, but once the Who appeared on the television program Ready, Steady, Go, the record shot up the charts, since the group's incendiary performance, featuring Townshend and Moon destroying their instruments, became a sensation. "I Can't Explain" reached the British Top Ten, followed that summer by "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," which was virtually a mod anthem in all but name and declared the mod ethos to the world; "I can go anywhere (where I choose)" -- it actually wasn't that far removed from the mentality behind the Sparkletones' "Black Slacks," among other youth anthems of the early rock & roll era in its sensibilities, except that the Who made it sound resolutely English, and it was a huge hit in England. That fall, "My Generation" climbed all the way to number two on the charts, confirming the band's status as a British pop phenomenon. An album of the same name followed at the end of the year, comprised of the title song plus various R&B covers (especially of James Brown material) and some interesting originals, mostly by Townshend, on the U.K. Brunswick label. And early in 1966, "Substitute" became their fourth British Top Ten hit.

It was during this period that Lambert had an especially strong influence on Townshend as a songwriter. Lambert, the son of a renowned composer and arranger, introduced Townshend to a huge range of classical music, including the work of Sir William Walton (with whom Lambert's father had worked extensively), Darius Milhaud, and various Baroque figures. Townshend didn't change his style of writing, which was still developing and influenced by a multitude of figures and styles, including Jimmy Reed and Sonny Boy Williamson II, Eddie Cochran and Mose Allison, but he did end up broadening his way of thinking about composition and what one could do with songs and subject matter. Over the years that followed, Lambert would encourage Townshend to go beyond the mod-themed romantic subjects that would have seemed like a natural direction for his songs.

"Substitute," produced by Kit Lambert, marked the band's acrimonious split with Talmy, with whom the band and their managers were no longer happy working, and the end of the group's British Decca/Brunswick recording contract -- Lambert and Stamp also tried to scrap the American Decca deal, but that proved impossible. Starting with "Substitute," the band was now signed to Polydor in England, and issued on Reaction. There were, for a time, rival releases on Brunswick and Reaction as Talmy and Brunswick, and Lambert and Stamp with Reaction dueled with the group's fortunes, but the competition was eventually sorted out in Lambert and Stamp's (and the band's) favor. "I'm a Boy," issued in the summer of 1966, was the first Who single produced without some rival release on Brunswick entering the marketplace, and it (along with some of those Brunswick sides) showed just how far the band and Townshend had come in 18 months -- "Substitute" was a catchy song that carried with it a fascinating character study, and one with sociological overtones, no less, none of which got in the way of its appeal; "A Legal Matter" was a phenomenal romantic (or, really, non-romantic) "story" song with a narrative and a powerful quasi-dramatic singing role for Daltrey, and could almost have been part of a larger body of work, like a rock musical or something more ambitious; "The Kids Are Alright" was similar, a vest-pocket drama with great harmonies, a memorable guitar break (and opening), and a strong dramatic performance by Daltrey; and "I'm a Boy" was an eerie (for a pop song) example of sexuality and child abuse as subject matter, about a teenage boy who is feminized by his dominating mother, forced to dress in girl's clothing and act the part of a girl; it carried an amazing amount of exposition, and yet had plenty of room for the band's by now trademarked attack on their instruments, and Daltrey giving a strong vocal performance in what was very much a dramatic role in miniature. The band was essentially leading a dual existence artistically, generating immensely popular singles in England, which were gradually redefining the acceptable content and boundaries of pop/rock songs; what's more, their hard, manic approach to playing dressed those songs up as some of the hardest -- yet most melodic and complex -- rocking pop singles of the period. Though no one recognized it, the Who were having as profound effect on the rock & roll landscape as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

That was in England. The story in the United States was very different. "I Can't Explain" had barely created a ripple, and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" did little better despite some publicity on the ABC television rock & roll showcase Shindig. Even with Decca getting behind "My Generation" for a major marketing push, the single only got to number 74, which was barely a shadow of what it did in England. And the British success was all well and good, but it wasn't enough -- with a string of hit singles in that market and one album under their belt, and all of the most creative methods that Lambert and Stamp could devise to keep the band in the press and maximize their audience and their bookings, they were not losing money as fast as they might have. But the instrument-smashing routine and the attendant effects (often involving flash-powder and damage to Moon's drums as well as Townshend's guitars) had been frightfully expensive, even if it had generated the press they needed to get people to check out their music; and even done more selectively, as it was after 1966, with as much skilled repair work as possible to salvage what could be reclaimed, it meant that the band was carrying an ongoing (and ever growing) debt that no other act had to concern themselves with, and drove the group's expenses through the roof. For all of their publicity, huge record sales, and well-attended concerts booked for top fees, the spectre of financial ruin was never far from the thoughts of their management, this despite the fact that Lambert and Stamp were now luxuriating in a new label imprint of their own under the Polydor umbrella, called Track Records -- and that Track had a new signing in late 1966, a transplanted American guitarist/singer named Jimi Hendrix. A breakthrough for the Who in America, or in the album market in a major way (or, preferably, both), was essential.

It was time to record a second album, and this time Lambert and Stamp as well as the band had a more ambitious agenda. They didn't totally abandon their covers of R&B -- the group liked doing them and the mod audience expected them -- but Townshend's success at writing their singles had inspired their managers. Lambert and Stamp decided that every member of the Who should contribute songs this time, in order to generate more revenue. Although the ploy meant A Quick One -- as the album was finally called -- was uneven, Lambert's presence allowed Townshend to write the title track as a ten-minute mini-opera, an idea he would expand over the next few years. As it was, "A Quick One While He's Away" showed Townshend writing (and the Who singing and playing) in various idioms far beyond rock & roll, including faux western and faux operetta -- these were important moments for the players, getting dedicated rock & rollers Daltrey and Entwistle (who would just as soon have been crunching out covers of Eddie Cochran or something from the Vee-Jay Records song catalog, or something closer to "I Can't Explain") to go along and throw their full talents into the music, if even in a jocular fashion; and the track's successful extension of a narrative line across what amounted to several songs showed Townshend and company that this idea could be expanded upon. And one of the few moments of serious compromise in the song's production even seems to have anticipated one aspect of future interpretation of their music by an admirer -- for the final section, there should have been a group of cellos playing accompaniment behind the group, but the group couldn't afford to hire the necessary musicians, so instead the members did a peculiar kind of modified vocalise, singing a chorus of "cello cello cello cello," which worked beautifully on a musical level as well as adding a surreal edge to the finale; but heard 40 years later, that moment also uncannily prefigures Petra Haden's approach to recording her version of The Who Sell Out.

As it was, though they got relatively little recognition for it in the press, the Who were expanding the boundaries of pop music at least as far as anything the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, or anyone else was doing at the time. And that was only part of the story -- A Quick One also provided a canvas for the blossoming songwriting of Entwistle, whose macabre humor shone through in comically engaging musical terms on the catchy "Boris the Spider" and "Whisky Man," the latter showing off his skills on the French horn. Moon's "Cobwebs and Strange" was also a suitable moment of light humor, and even Daltrey -- whose songwriting aspirations never rated too much of his attention -- contributed "See My Way." It might not have been a Beatles album in quality, but A Quick One had a diversity of sounds and creative voices, and a range to match anything the Beatles were doing.

Upon its 1966 release, A Quick One became another British hit, and the record also provided a minor breakthrough in America, where the album was retitled Happy Jack and its title track reached the Top 40 in early 1967. But to do that, they were forced to tour the U.S. as part of a package tour organized under the auspices of DJ-turned-impresario Murray the K. Booked alongside Cream (also a new act in America), folkies Jim & Jean, and Wilson Pickett, doing 15- or 20-minute sets five shows a day, the group got the exposure they needed to push the song onto AM radio, and finally become known to a wider public, even though "Happy Jack" was a totally atypical Who song, with its emphasis on harmony singing and its relatively restrained guitar part -- the band found itself in a situation amazingly similar to that of their mod audience rivals the Small Faces, who broke through in America around the same time with "Itchycoo Park," a song that was completely unrepresentative of their usual sound.

In the Who's case, they had a brace of sides cut between 1965 and 1968 that were either singles and EPs that were only released in England, or were singles (or their B-sides) that were only hits on the British side of the Atlantic: "Daddy Rolling Stone," "Shout and Shimmy," "Anytime You Want Me," "The Good's Gone," "In the City," "Call Me Lightning," "The Last Time," "Under My Thumb," and "Dogs," plus the Ready Steady Who EP (which included "Bucket T" and "Disguises"). These constituted virtually a "shadow" history of the group, and one that wasn't fully exposed in America until the 1980s and the release of the compilation Who's Missing (which still managed to miss a few of those odd tracks). One curiosity about the group from this period was the sense of humor that they showed at the drop of a hat. "Bucket T" was a cover of a Jan & Dean car song, which reflected Moon's enthusiasm for surf music, while "In the City" -- an Entwistle/Moon composition -- was a light-hearted piece of rock & roll fluff about adventure and girls; and "Shout and Shimmy" and "Anytime You Want Me" were serious R&B-based covers, showing Daltrey and the band at their most soulful.

All of these variations, minor and major, on the group's sound pointed to their sheer range, and also to part of the secret of their success -- that these four guys didn't have all that much in common musically or personally (and perhaps wouldn't even have especially liked each other if they'd met in any other context), yet they could pull it all together under one label as "the Who" and make it seem coherent, on two sides of a single, four or five EP sides, or a dozen LPs tracks, and much more subtly but equally successfully within the same song. In that sense, they were as complex and diverse as the Beatles, but hadn't fallen into the trap of aiming at pop/rock (or writing songs and making records that were impossible to do on-stage), and traded in wattage levels that were higher than those utilized by the Rolling Stones -- even their softest-sounding records, such as "Happy Jack" with all of its harmonies (the recording of which led to the studio antics by Moon that resulted in Townshend's jocular, chiding "I saw ya" tacked onto the fadeout), had a punchy, hard edge that allowed them to be done full-out on-stage. What surprised listeners who later heard the Live at Leeds album was how much their live performances sounded like their records, except that they'd have had it backward -- the Who's records captured their actual live sound.

The group quickly left Murray the K behind, and their next major milestone in the U.S.A. was playing the Fillmore in San Francisco. For that occasion, however, they had a problem that was the reverse of the Murray the K performances -- the latter had been too attenuated at 15 to 20 minutes, but to play the Fillmore their usual 40-minute sets were too short. In the Richard Barnes book -Maximum R&B, it was recalled that they had to learn the entire mini-opera and the rest of A Quick One, which they had not been performing live, in order to lengthen their set. The Fillmore gig preceded the single most important show they'd ever played in America, at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. That put them on a collision course with their Track Records labelmate Jimi Hendrix, in a duel before the audience and the cameras, to see who could end their set more outrageously. Hendrix won the day with his incendiary performance, but the Who acquitted themselves admirably with a destruction of their instruments that was still startling to see 40 years later, when the film was shown theatrically on the anniversary of the event.

They went right from Monterey to another U.S. tour, this time opening for Herman's Hermits, which was an impossible fit for both groups. The other British outfit, pop/rock favorites for three years, was still drawing an audience consisting mostly of younger teenagers -- and mostly girls -- enamored of Peter Noone, the cheerfully charming lead singer. Here were the four members of the Who, Daltrey all macho swagger and hardly "safe," backed by Townshend with his beak of a hooter, the stoic, ominously stone-faced Entwistle, and Moon the madman at the drums, doing hard R&B and a set of mostly edgy hard rock with their amps turned up to 11, trying to deal with crowds chanting "We want Herman"; the tour wasn't helped by the fact that, thanks to the publicity they'd gotten belatedly about their old British act, they'd been forced to go back to smashing instruments, so that Noone often came onto a stage littered with the pieces of one of Townshend's guitars. It was all so surreal that it's a shame no one filmed any of the shows along the tour, which did nothing for the band. Additionally, they felt awkward reverting to their old stage act, as they'd finished work on a new album, and an accompanying single, that represented a new phase musically.

The Who Sell Out was a concept album constructed as a mock-pirate radio broadcast, a loving tribute to the England's pirate radio stations, which had been closed in a government crackdown. (Those seeking a look at what pirate radio was like in England should check out the 1966 Secret Agent episode "Not So Jolly Roger," which is set at a pirate radio operation, at sea.) The group had thrown everything they had into the album in an effort to solidify their position in England and crack the U.S. market once and for all, including the song "I Can See for Miles" -- it seemed like a certain chart-topper, an explosion of excitement and controlled tension, all carried on a soaring, catchy melody line; Daltrey's performance was the best of his career to date, but he was matched by Townshend's slashing guitar and Moon's frenetic drumming, and Entwistle's anchor-like bass in the middle of it all. It took a lot of work at three different studios on two continents and two coasts -- including Gold Star in Los Angeles -- to get that sound; and the record so well in that department, and was, as a consequence, so difficult to play live that it became the only hit in the group's history that they abandoned attempting to do on-stage. It was aimed at going all the way, in the wake of the massive exposure they'd received in 1967, and did become the group's first Top Ten hit in America, and reached number two in England -- but that wasn't sufficient for what the band or their management needed.

The group spent much of the year 1968 seeing their singles "Call Me Lightning," "Magic Bus," and "Dogs" -- the latter growing out of Townshend's interest at the time in dog racing -- fail to sell in anything like their expected numbers, with "Dogs" not charting at all in its British-only release. Even Townshend hit a crisis of confidence in himself. Meanwhile, Track Records, squeezed for cash even with Jimi Hendrix's burgeoning sales, put together the delightfully bizarre Direct Hits, compiling the band's more recent singles (none of the Shel Talmy-produced sides on Brunswick were represented), which gave a good profile of their U.K. output up to that point. In the United States, Decca Records -- with only two actual "hits" by the group to work with, plus "Magic Bus" (which actually did unexpectedly well on that side of the Atlantic) -- declined to put out a similar package and, instead, assembled Magic Bus, an unacknowledged compilation album built around the hit and drawn from U.K. singles, EP tracks, and recent album tracks. It was misleadingly subtitled "The Who on Tour," and that's a lot of what they did in 1968, especially in the United States, but not the same way they had the previous year. Instead of playing to younger teenagers at shows headlined by Herman's Hermits, they were playing places like the Fillmore East, where they recorded one show for a possible live album, a plan that went awry when the show turned out to be not quite good enough to represent the group, and was abandoned entirely with the vast changes in their repertory that ensued in 1969. When they weren't making their first serious long-term headway in the U.S.A., the band -- mostly Townshend, in collaboration with Lambert on the early libretto -- was spending a lot of time devising and recording a large-scale work.

Tommy, as it was finally called, was released in May of 1969, more than a year and a half after their previous album. It was an improbable venture, as well -- even with all of the time spent on it, the recording wasn't nearly finished, at least as Townshend and company saw it, in terms of instruments they'd have wanted to include on certain songs, and Entwistle was particularly upset at the bass sound on the released recording. But there was no more time left, for overdubs or retakes or any more work on it -- the band, and Lambert and Stamp, were out of money and out of options, and Tommy was released as it was, work-in-progress though it was. And for the first time, the stars (and everything else) lined up in the Who's favor, especially in the United States. There was an established and growing serious rock press by then, with a dedicated audience on college campuses and high schools, and its writers seized on the album as a masterpiece. By then, the mainstream press had also started to take rock music seriously, and the Who were new enough and fresh enough, and Tommy ambitious enough so that it became one of the most widely reviewed and written about albums in history, and the Who along with it as artists.

Tommy climbed into the American Top Ten as the group supported the album with an extensive tour, where they played the opera in its entirety, including dates at the London Coliseum and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In some respects, Tommy became too successful -- audiences expected it to be done in its entirety at every show, and suddenly the Who, who had once had difficulty extending their set for their first gig at the Fillmore, were routinely playing for two hours at a clip. The work soon overshadowed the Who themselves; it was performed as a play across the world, redone as an orchestrated all-star extravaganza (starring Daltrey and featuring Townshend's guitar), and would eventually be filmed by Ken Russell in 1975 (the movie starred Daltrey) -- plus, in 1993, Townshend turned it into a Broadway musical with director Des McAnuff.

While the legacy of Tommy kept the band busy touring for almost two years, Townshend was stumped about how to follow it up. As he worked on new material, the group released Live at Leeds in 1970, which gave them some breathing room (and yielded a hit single in the form of "Summertime Blues") as well as the single "The Seeker." Eventually, he settled on a sci-fi rock opera called +Lifehouse, which he intended to be strongly influenced by the teachings of his guru, Meher Baba. Townshend also intended to incorporate electronics and synthesizers on the album, pushing the group into new sonic territory. The remainder of the Who wasn't particularly enthralled with +Lifehouse, claiming not to understand its plot, and their reluctance contributed to Townshend suffering a nervous breakdown. Once he recovered, the group picked up the pieces of the now-abandoned project and recorded Who's Next with producer Glyn Johns. Boasting a harder, heavier sound, Who's Next became a major hit, and many of its tracks -- including "Baba O'Riley," "Bargain," "Behind Blue Eyes," and "Won't Get Fooled Again" (which were both issued as singles), and Entwistle's "My Wife" -- became cornerstones of album-oriented FM radio in the '70s. The tour behind Who's Next solidified the Who as one of the two top live rock attractions in the world, with record fast sell-outs on some of the top arenas in the country -- along with the Rolling Stones, they ruled the arena rock landscape of the 1970s. And suddenly their history was of interest to millions of fans as never before, and as a follow-up to Who's Next, they issued Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, a 14-song retrospective of their singles -- many of which had never been on album -- that also sold in massive numbers.

The success of Who's Next prompted Townshend to attempt another opera. This time, he abandoned fantasy in order to sketch a portrait of a '60s mod with Quadrophenia. He was also no longer working with Kit Lambert, who had lost influence with the group in the wake of the first rock opera -- during this period, the band would also leave Lambert and Stamp's management. As he wrote the album in 1972, he released Who Came First, a collection of private recordings and demos he made for Meher Baba. Entwistle had already begun his own solo career with the album Smash Your Head Against the Wall, and he followed this up with Whistle Rhymes, released the same day as Townshend's album. Quadrophenia was released as a double album in 1973, and it sold extremely well, but it proved to be a problem as a concert piece -- hardly anyone outside of England was familiar with its mod subject matter, and as the band embarked on an ambitious tour, it soon became clear that audiences hadn't had the time to familiarize themselves with the work, leading to a lukewarm response to much of the new material. And to make matters worse, Quadrophenia was very difficult to play live. Eventually, the group retooled its set, removing a handful of the more difficult parts of the opera, and performed an abbreviated version of Quadrophenia with some success.

The Who began to fragment after the release of Quadrophenia, as Townshend began to publicly fret over his role as a rock spokesman; in private, he began sinking into alcohol abuse. Entwistle concentrated heavily on his solo career, including recordings with his side projects Ox and Rigor Mortis. Meanwhile, Daltrey was approaching the peak of his musical powers -- in the wake of performing Tommy on-stage for two years (as well the orchestral version, and the movie), plus the repertory on the Who's Next tour, he had become a truly great singer, and had found himself unexpectedly comfortable as an actor -- perhaps a by-product of singing all of those Townshend-authored "roles" from 1965 onward. He alternately pursued an acting career and solo recordings. Moon, meanwhile, continued to party, celebrating his substance abuse and eventually releasing the solo album Two Sides of the Moon, which was studded with star cameos. During this hiatus, the group was represented by the rarities collection Odds & Sods (1974), the contents of which overlapped and transcended any number of underground (i.e., "bootleg") collections that were trading freely among serious fans -- it was seized upon by eager fans and charted like a new release. Meanwhile, Townshend continued to work on songs for the Who, resulting in the disarmingly personal The Who by Numbers in 1975. The record and its accompanying tour became a hit, though its number eight placement in the U.S. reflected some modest diminishing of enthusiasm on the part of listeners -- Quadrophenia, despite being a rather expensive double LP (with full, illustrated libretto) and built around a somewhat outré subject, had reached number two on both sides of the Atlantic. Following the tour's completion, the band officially took an extended hiatus.

The late '70s saw the band start to succumb to the ravages of age, as well as the lifestyle inherent in professional rock & roll at their level. It was revealed that Townshend, after years of playing on-stage with the band, had permanently damaged his hearing. And on the 1976 tour, Moon collapsed on-stage just a few minutes into a show at the Boston Garden -- he recovered and seemed to laugh off the incident, while an audience member sat in behind the drum kit to allow the band to finish the performance. He continued to party like there was no tomorrow, and even brought up the notion of a possible successor, should one ever be needed, in the guise of ex-Small Faces/Faces drummer Kenney Jones. The Who reconvened in early 1978 to record Who Are You, which was released in August of that year, accompanied by a stunning promotional/performance video of the title song. Instead of responding to the insurgent punk movement, which labeled the Who as has-beens, the album represented the group's heaviest flirtation with prog rock since Quadrophenia. The album became a huge hit, peaking at number two in the American charts and earning a platinum record award. Instead of being a triumphant comeback, however, Who Are You became a symbol of tragedy -- on September 7, 1978, not three weeks after the album's release, Moon died of a drug overdose. Since Moon was such an integral part of the Who's sound and image, the band had to debate whether continuing on was a wise move. Eventually, they decided to continue performing, but all three surviving members would later claim that they felt the Who ended with Moon's death, and most fans would have agreed, at least until the release of Endless Wire in 2006.

They took Moon's own suggestion and hired Kenney Jones as his replacement, as well as keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick to round out the lineup, and began working on new material in 1979. Before they released a new record, they released the live documentary The Kids Are Alright and contributed music to Franc Roddam's cinematic adaptation of Quadrophenia, which starred Phil Daniels. The Who began touring later in 1979, but the tour's momentum was crushed when 11 attendees at the group's December 3, 1979, concert at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum were trampled to death in a rush for choice festival seating. The band wasn't informed of the incident until after the concert was finished, and the tragedy deflated whatever goodwill they had.

Following the Cincinnati concert, the Who slowly fell apart. Townshend became addicted to cocaine, heroin, tranquilizers, and alcohol, suffering a near-fatal overdose in 1981. Meanwhile, Entwistle and Daltrey soldiered on in their solo careers. The band reconvened in 1981 to record and release Face Dances, their first album since Moon's death. The album was a hit but received mixed reviews. The following year, they released It's Hard and embarked on a supporting tour billed as their farewell to fans. The live Who's Last was released in 1984 as a commemoration of the tour.

The farewell tour didn't turn out to be the final goodbye from the Who. While Entwistle and Daltrey slowly faded away, their solo careers losing momentum across the remainder of the decade, Townshend continued recording to relative success. However, the Who still haunted him. The group reunited to play Live Aid in 1985, and three years later, they played a British music awards program. In 1989, Townshend agreed to reunite the band, minus Kenney Jones, who was replaced by session drummer Simon Phillips for something billed as a 25th anniversary tour of America. Whatever goodwill the Who had with many fans and critics was squandered on that tour, which was perceived as simply a way to make a lot of money -- which, in all honesty, Daltrey and, especially, Entwistle needed. They ended up with the worst reviews in their history, and followed it up with a live album, Join Together, that was the nadir of their recording history, shapeless, flat, and, worst of all -- and most astonishingly for this band -- dull. The Who reunited again in 1994 for two concerts to celebrate Daltrey's 50th birthday.

The commercial success of the tour did have one positive effect on Townshend, helping to jump-start the effort to bring Tommy to the Broadway stage. It became a huge hit in this new venue and revived interest in the original recording, which reappeared in several different CD incarnations, the best of which -- the Mobile Fidelity ultradisc and the Universal "deluxe edition" -- finally presented it with the crispness and presence it deserved. Following his success with +Tommy, Townshend decided to revive Quadrophenia in 1996, reuniting the Who to perform the piece at the Prince's Trust concert in Hyde Park that summer. The Who followed it with an American tour in the fall, which proved to be a failure. The following summer, the Who launched an oldies tour of America that was ignored by the press. In October 2001, they played the Concert for New York City benefit for families of the victims of the September 11 attacks.

In late June 2002, the Who had once again regrouped and were about to kick off a North American tour when Entwistle died at the age of 57 in Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel. In 2006, Townshend and Daltrey released the mini-opera Wire & Glass, their first collaboration as the Who in nearly a quarter century. The full-length Endless Wire, which included the EP, was released later that year to the best reviews that any Who album had gotten since Who Are You, 28 year earlier. The accompanying tour was similarly well-received, and for the first time since the 1980s there seemed to be a point to the group's continued existence, as something other than a money-making machine. On December 7, 2008, at a gala ceremony in Washington, D.C., Townshend and Daltrey, as the surviving members of the Who, received Kennedy Center Honors for their lifetime contributions to American culture -- and if the late Keith Moon were watching from wherever he is, he would probably have been too flabbergasted to crack a joke.

SEE "THE WHO" AT STAGE :

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