#6 – The Who are more than the sum of their parts — and their parts are amazing.
As made blatantly obvious (some would say too obvious) with the release of their double album Quadrophenia (1973), the idea of The Who as a “quartnity” of four persons in one “body” held significant power for guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend.
Ultimately, this unified field theory of the band was too quirky, personal and unwieldy to make it into the finished album intact. Perhaps Townshend was overthinking the obvious, and working too hard to express something that fans already understood:
That his band was comprised of four people who, combined, produced music that was “4 to the nth power.”
Townshend’s focus on The Who as a quartet of distinctive individuals is almost as old as the band itself. In the short video below, Pete Townshend shares his proto-punk thoughts about his band mates, circa 1966:
I’m not about to claim that Pete Townshend was the greatest rock guitarist of all time (he placed only #50 in the Rolling Stone Top 100), or that Keith Moon was the greatest drummer.
Yet no one can make a similar claim about any of The Beatles, either, and they are regularly referred to as most successful band in history. (Ringo isn’t called “The Luckiest Man Alive” for nothing.)
What I can do is present the bios that make up part of the sensational documentary about The Who, Amazing Journey, in which other big name musicians explain and demonstrate what makes every member — to use an over/mis-used word — unique: