20. ‘Join Together’, which was released as a single in 1972. The band played it as a show-closer in January 2011 alongside Debbie Harry, Jeff Beck and Bryan Adams at a charity show.
19. ‘Summertime Blues’ – This classic teen anthem was originally written and recorded by rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran back in the 1950’s. The Who performed a memorable version of it at Woodstock in ’69 and it continues to be a best loved cover.
18. ‘Happy Jack’ – Released in December 1966, this early record was one of the only songs written by Pete Townshend to feature John Entwistle on lead vocals. At the end of the song Pete Townshend can be heard shouting “I saw you!”, apparently to Keith Moon who always tried to get his voice onto the recording.
17. ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’ – This 1965 release was composed by both Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey and is one of the first records to feature guitar feedback, creating a blueprint for rock ‘n’ roll in the decades to come. It has since been covered by the likes of David Bowie, The Flaming Lips and Ocean Colour Scene.
16. ‘Boris The Spider’ – This horror song is said to be Jimi Hendrix’s favourite Who song and is also said to have been written in just six minutes by bassist John Entwistle. It appears on ‘A Quick One’, their second album released in 1966.
15. ‘You Better You Bet’ remains their last top 20 single (to date) and it appears as the first song on their 1981 album ‘Face Dances’. It was written by Pete Townshend and recorded two years after the death of Keith Moon at Odyssey studios in London.
14. ‘Magic Bus’ – Despite moderate success at the time it was released in 1968 (it reached number 26 in the UK charts) it remains one of The Who’s most popular songs and is a live staple. On their first live album ‘Live at Leeds’, ‘Magic Bus’ lasts nearly 8 minutes, with Roger Daltrey joining the jam on harmonica.
13. ‘Pictures Of Lily’ – “Here’s another picture of Lily – hope you haven’t got this one.” These were the words scribbled on the back of a 1920’s postcard of vaudeville pin-up Lilian Bayliss, which is said to have inspired Pete Townshend to write this 1967 classic single.
12. ‘5:15’ – Ever been so excited you’ve wet yourself? The opening stanza of ‘5:15’ is a reference to a Beatles concert in Blackpool in 1963 in which a number of teenage girls famously urinated with excitement. The song was written by Pete Townshend in 1973 for their second rock opera ‘Quadraphenia’.
11. ‘Squeeze Box’ – Brilliantly rife in sexual innuendo, this 1974 hit was originally planned for a Who television special that never aired. It reached number 10 in the UK at the time of release and unfortunately hasn’t been played live since The Who’s tour in 1982.
10. ‘Who Are You” is the title track of the Who’s eighth studio album ‘Who Are You’, which was released in 1978. Drummer Keith Moon died 20 days after its release and it remains to be one of the bands most successful international hits.
9. ‘I Can See For Miles’ – Written by Pete Townshend in 1967, we at NME hailed this classic record as number 37 on our Top 100 Singles of All Time. It remains the band’s biggest hit single to date in the United States.
8. ‘Substitute’ – Apparently, Pete Townshend originally composed this 1966 hit with the idea in mind that the Who were a ‘Substitute’ for the Rolling Stones after being particularly enamoured with their song ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’. In later years, however, Townshend claimed the song was about “nothing”.
7. ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ – In 1971, Pete Townshend began composing material for a second rock opera, a science fiction follow-up to ‘Tommy’. The project never came into fruition but many of the songs were released as part of their fifth album ‘Who’s Next’. This track was amongst them.
6. ‘The Kids Are Alright’ – This mod anthem was released in 1965 as part of their first album ‘My Generation’. It has since been used as the title of a 1979 documentary of the band as well as been covered by an extensive catalogue of musicians which includes the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Pearl Jam, Dropkick Murphys, Green Day, The Queers and Eddie and the Hot Rods.
5. ‘My Generation’ – Much like many of the greatest hits of all time, this 1965 record is said to have been inspired by the Queen Mother, who was so offended by the sight of Pete Townshend’s 1935 Packard Hearse, she arranged for it to be towed away from the neighbourhood. The hit was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant”.
4. ‘I Can’t Explain’ – One of their earliest records, this song was released in 1964 and the influence of The Kinks is apparent.
3. ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ – This 1971 rock classic was the last ever song performed by the original line-up on 25 May 1978 as Keith Moon died just four months afterward. It continues to be a live staple for the band.
2. ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ – In at number two is this brilliantly theatrical record, released in 1973 as part of the band’s second rock opera ‘Quadrophenia’. Jimmy, the main character, sings this at the end of the opera after finding spiritual redemption. In the pouring rain, of course.
1. ‘Pinball Wizard’ – In at number 1, here’s your choice for the The Who’s greatest song: ‘Pinball Wizard’. It was released in the spring of ’69 for the Who’s first rock opera ‘Tommy’, and despite Pete Townshend’s claim that it’s “the most clumsy piece of writing” he’d ever done it remains a classic and deserved vote-winner.