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Top 100 Hard Rock Groups

#13 The Who

By James West,

Dedicated to my Dad Bobby West

If I were to have one goal with writing these Rock Band reviews other than to turn some of you on to some fantastic music it would be to have just one of my Rock Idols read one of them and comment to me, “Hey Rocker dude, just Who The F*ck Are You?”  Ha!  Of course, if that comment would come from someone like Pete Townsend I would die a very happy Rocker Dude!

Pete Townsend reminds me of my dad in a lot of ways.  My father had to work hard for everything he ever had in life; nothing was ever given to him nor would he ever take anything from anyone.  He’s very much a man of his own making, and being just mediocre in life was never even a thought.  He’s smart in a lot of areas because he put in the work to learn a lot in those areas.  Ask anyone in my hometown who they would go to for advice and assistance, and my dad would gladly gives of his time and effort to help anyone in need.

Like my dad Pete Townsend had to work hard for everything he had in life.   He put in the time to learn how to play every instrument, there were no lessons given to him.  Then he learned how to make the instrument and amplification sound better than the rest, never mediocre, and then went to work on ways to record that sound better than the rest.  He’s smart in a lot of areas. 

Ask any musician who they think of as a forefather of modern Hard Rock and they will say Townsend every time.

Basically, both Townsend and my Dad are examples of what young sons should strive to become.  But then there’s me…

For every Pete Townsend there’s a Keith Moon.  Please don’t take this the wrong way!  I love Moonies playing and he’s in my list of top 10 drummers of all time.  But his lifestyle dictated his deathstyle of playing-- wild, adventurous, sometimes going out on a limb, sometimes falling flat on your face.  From this type behavior you can witness pure genius, but you can also see the “other” side that self-

destructs and burns out instead of fading away.   Where Townsend was more of an Architect who built bridges of sound and melody, Moon was more the demolition expert who knew where to place the dynamite.  I’ve always strived to be like Pete and my Dad in life, but ultimately, I’m more Moon The Loon! Lol

Your Lifestyle Dictates Your Deathstyle

I could never be as patient and resilient as Townsend or my Dad in this world; I don’t know a lot about a lot of things, and my lifestyle dictates my deathstyle-- full of ideas and creative sparks but usually just stuck in a mediocre mindset most of the time.  But, every now and then

I even surprise myself sometimes and surpass my expectations in life.  Kind of like surpassing my expectations of listening to The Who for the first time.

I first heard The Who from a Tommy cassette I “found” when driving by an old van by the side of the road on the outskirts of my hometown.  It was an old Chevy with shag carpet on the dash and the windows down.  The driver probably was busy hoofing it to the gas station or maybe he just said screw it to the shag and left.  You would think his loss would be my gain, but I didn’t care too much for Tommy at all and chunked it out the window to get rid of the evidence.  

Fast forward forty years and I still feel the same about Tommy, Quadrophenia, and most other albums as a whole from The Who, with the lone exception of Who’s Next.  That one’s a monster from start to finish!  Most of the other Who albums have several songs that make you wonder why you even like The Who to begin with, but then like the Moonie dynamite, every Who album has that explosion song or two where everything comes together to remind you of the absolute brilliance and destructive power this band really has at its core!

Pete Townsend once said that he sees his guitar as a weapon, and on songs like Won’t Get Fooled Again, Who Are You, and Baba O’Riley, it’s an all-out shock n’ awe full frontal

attack upon your senses.  Add in the pop coolness of I Can’t Explain, Magic Bus, and Pinball Wizard along with sweet surprises like Love Reign O’er Me, Join Together, and Eminence Front and then everything suddenly comes together in one perfectly orchestrated mess that you end up craving for the rest of your life.   I can never get enough of these songs.  Set ‘em up on repeat and hit play all day long and I’m good to go!

Roger Daltrey ranks right up there with Robert Plant as the quintessential Rock God vocalist.  His presence commands your attention, and if that doesn’t get it, his blood curdling yell at the end of Won’t Get Fooled Again certainly will!  I could never quite figure out if all that microphone swinging and throwing was just for fun, or maybe it was used to keep Townsend at bay.  There’s no denying the pure energy you witness at a Who concert.  Even when the Rocker Chic and I saw them on their 50th Anniversary Tour they were still in top form.  That says a lot considering this band got together when I was only One year old!

I have always been more of a guitar guy than bass or drums, but in recent years I have learned to truly appreciate everything The Ox John Entwistle brought to The Who. 

As the only formally trained musician in the band, Thunderfingers used Pentatonic lead lines in the songs with the treble turned all the way up so you could not only feel the bass but hear it as well!  The combination of talent you got from Townsend’s riffs, Daltrey’s voice, Moon’s percussion, and Entwistle’s groove was nothing sort of astounding when it all came together in perfect harmony.

With this amount of talent you would think I would have them higher up the food chain on my Best Band list, but the early watery stuff like Substitute and Happy Jack just don’t do it

for me, along with, of course, the opera crap of Tommy and Quadrophenia.  Just give me that Arena Rock and the distortion of Townsend’s weapon straight through the eardrums and I’m in Heaven.  Yea, I know what some of you Mods are saying right now, “Hey Rocker Dude, just Who The F*ck Are You?”

50 years and still going strong!  The Who can still deliver the goods as witnessed by The Rocker Chic and yours truly at The Who 50th Anniversary Concert in San Diego in May 2016.  Photo by The Rocker Chic,

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