The Who developed from an earlier group, the Detours, before stabilising around a line-up of Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon. After releasing a single (billed as the High Numbers), the group established themselves as part of the mod movement, specialising in auto-destructive art by destroying guitars and drums onstage. They achieved recognition in the UK after support by pirate radio and television, and their first single (as the Who), "I Can't Explain" reached the top ten. A string of hit singles followed including "My Generation", "Substitute" and "Happy Jack". Although initially regarded as a singles act, they also found success with the albums My Generation and A Quick One. In 1967, they achieved success in the US after performing at the Monterey Pop Festival, and with the top ten single "I Can See for Miles". They released The Who Sell Out at the end of the year, and spent much of 1968 touring the US.
The release of their fourth album, Tommy, in 1969 was a major commercial and critical achievement. Subsequent live appearances at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, along with the live album Live At Leeds, transformed the Who's reputation from a hit-singles band into a critically acclaimed rock act. With their success came increased pressure on lead songwriter Townshend, and the follow-up to Tommy, Lifehouse was abandoned in favour of 1971's Who's Next. The group subsequently released Quadrophenia (1973) and The Who by Numbers (1975), oversaw the film adaptation of Tommy and toured to large audiences before semi-retiring from live performance in 1977. The release of Who Are You in August 1978 was overshadowed by the death of Moon on 7 September, at the age of 32.
Kenney Jones, formerly of the Small Faces and the Faces, replaced Moon and the group resumed touring. A film adaptation of Quadrophenia was released in 1979 along with the retrospective documentary The Kids Are Alright. The group continued recording, releasing Face Dances in 1981 and It's Hard the following year, before breaking up. They occasionally re-formed for live appearances such as Live Aid in 1985, a 25th anniversary tour in 1989 that drew mixed reviews, and for a tour of Quadrophenia in 1996. The Who resumed regular touring in 1999, with drummer Zak Starkey, to a positive response, and were considering the possibility of a new album, but these plans were stalled by Entwistle's death in June 2002 at the age of 57. Townshend and Daltrey elected to continue as the Who, releasing Endless Wire (2006), which reached the top ten in the UK and US. The group continue to play live on a regular basis, and in 2012 they began a further tour of Quadrophenia.
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