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The Who: From Purple Hearts To Power Chords

In 1965, The Who threw away their Swinging 60s Carnaby Street trappings and became the voice of a whole new rock g-g-generation. In 2003 Classic Rock charted the band’s route to superstardom.

The turning point may well have been the moment that Tony Blackburn heard Pinball Wizard for the first time and pronounced it “sick”. The Who had always been controversial; they had consistently been louder and harder than any of their contemporaries in the British charts; they had written the book on the art of hell-raising; and they had destroyed many more guitars, drum kits and speaker cabinets than they could possibly pay for. But now, lyrically, they were venturing into new and adult territory.

And with that came a wider approach to the music The Who were making. The one-time mods from Shepherds Bush had thrown away their natty ties and Union Jackets, plus the fussy shirts and floral prints they had briefly adopted during psychedelia. Now they were emerging as the era’s consummate rock band. And if they looked the part, they sounded like it, too.

For better or for worse, The Who were about to introduce the world to the ‘rock opera’.


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