The Who influenced countless bands and artists with its groundbreaking sonics and ambitious songwriting, perfecting everything from the three-minute single to the rock opera. The band’s acolytes span generations, including the following:
Pearl Jam’s singer is high-profile Who fan No. 1, proclaiming loud and proud that The Who’s “Quadrophenia” helped him cope with a tumultuous childhood.
By Enrico Frangi, Wikimedia Commons
The Who created an incredibly dense and powerful sound with just three instrumentalists. The virtuosos in this Canadian power trio were paying attention. Guitarist Alex Lifeson once said The Who and its anthem “My Generation” “changed my life.”
By Steve Kalinsky, Wikimedia Commons, 1992
It may have seemed like a stretch to have the U2 singer induct The Who into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, but the British band’s reach-for-the-sky ambition provided a road map for his own career. “More than any other group that ever was, The Who were our role models,” he said. “I love them and I hate them for that. They took on more than any other group and succeeded at a lot of it.”
The Sex Pistols
By Koen Suyk, Wikimedia Commons, 1977
Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook once told Pete Townshend during a chance meeting at a Soho club in London, “We really like The Who...they’re our favorite group.” The Pistols even covered The Who’s 1966 single “Substitute.”
By Neil Twink Tinning, Wikimedia Commons, 1982
More than any band of the punk era, the Jam channeled The Who’s art-pop rebellion for a new g-g-generation with its mod-era suits and slamming three-minute songs.
Wikimedia Commons, 2005
The cofounder of the mighty Husker Du, the singer-guitarist carries with him a stash of ‘60s 45-r.p.m. singles that have inspired his songwriting for decades. The Who ranks high among his vintage obsessions, notably “Armenia City in the Sky,” which he covered with his band Sugar in the early ‘90s and frequently performed in concert.
Billie Joe Armstrong
By Lloyd Morgan, Wikimedia Commons, 2006
You think Green Day’s rock opera “American Idiot” came out of nowhere? The band’s songwriter-singer is on record proclaiming that The Who’s “Tommy” is in league with Beethoven’s masterpieces.
The Oasis songwriter’s love of the Beatles is well-documented, but his passion for The Who is nearly as intense. He includes “Quadrophenia” among his all-time favorite albums.