Who's Ingredients

David Huntington huntington at mindspring.com
Wed Aug 18 09:49:01 CDT 2004

> Because they aren't The Who.


This one inflammatory statement is the linchpin of your argument. You never
waiver and I respect you for that. Apparently a proper definition of "The
Who" is elusive. Or at least one has not been offered which satisfies all
fans. Who owns this entity anyway?

> Kinda like there's still a Who without Entwistle & Moon?  A
> different Who, but a Who nonetheless?  Right?
> - SCHRADE in Akron

Excellent point.

As I read back and forth on what would've happened if someone else had died
first, either in the Beatles or The Who, I begin to get uncomfortable. The
arguments just don't hold water. You're comparing apples to oranges.

Both are quartets of English kids who wrote and performed popular music
through their amplified instruments in the latter part of the 20th Century.
That's about where the similarities end.

The principle song writers for both groups are the main ingredient that gave
each its own identity outside of being just another garage band, that would
seem evident. 

Sonically, however, The Who has an extra layer of identity that the Beatles
neither came close to, nor even tried to emulate. The Beatles were a studio
band. They made history in the studio. What's more, they disbanded "The
Beatles" long before mortality demanded that they change the lineup. Had
they been an active band and lost any of their members to death, they could
carry on as The Beatles, a different Beatles, but still The Beatles.

The Who on the other hand was/is two bands. The one that put down some great
albums in the studio too. Then there is The Who live.

I never fully understood this until John died, but going back and listening
to live tracks, it's actually painful to realize what was lost in 2002.
There is a sonic presence in the music that doesn't hit you in your head,
like the voice, drums and guitar do. It's in your chest, in the base of your
skull. It's John. His bass is the base that holds the band up on their well
deserved pedestal. This is even true of studio recordings.

That said, the creative force behind the music is still with us. Pete as
songwriter and Roger as vocal interpreter of his lyrics. I would venture a
guess that a great many bands would have benefited from having John on bass.
They may have become greater successes as a result. But they would have
still been playing songs written by someone else and sung by someone else.
They would have not been The Who. Had Pete or Roger left the band to perform
with another band, something more integral would have been lost. As for
Roger almost leaving the band in what, 1965, remember, they really weren't
"The Who" we all know and love at that point.

But none of this really addresses the central issue of what exactly "The
Who" is and whether anyone on earth still has the right to use the name.

I have at times seen this band as four parts of one body comprised of a
head, a face, a heart and muscle. At its prime, not unlike a world class
athlete. An athlete that really meant something to his or her fans at their
prime. Does this in any way mean that Edson Arantes
do Nascimento revoke the name Pele, or that Cassius Clay revoke the name
Ali, simply because the elements that made them what they were are no longer
operable. If they continue to play any role in their respective fields of
endeavor, they are who they have always been. Even so with The Who.  

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