At their core, The Who have always been a band searching for identity. Their very name, a definite article followed by an interrogative pronoun, is a testament to their inquisitive, soul-searching nature. Over nearly 60 years, Roger Daltrey, Peter Townshend, and the late John Entwistle and Keith Moon discovered, ironically, that their identity indeed lies in agnostic ambiguity.
“I won’t find what I’m after/ Till the day I die,” Townshend penned on the 1970 single “The Seeker”. However, The Who’s constant striving has led to one of rock’s greatest careers — one marked by troubled relationships, rambunctious rock and roll, raging social commentary, untimely deaths, and above all, a yearning for love.
The tortured lyricism of Townshend, the heart-wrenching screams of Daltrey, the frenzied drum rolls of Moon, and the unrestrained bass lines of Entwistle created some of rock’s greatest arena anthems from “My Generation” to “Baba O’Riley”. But behind every lyric and power chord is a passionate plea for hate to f-f-f-fade from among us and for love to reign o’er all. The Who may never find what they’re after, but they’ve led millions of fans along their “Amazing Journey” through vulnerability and no-nonsense rampage.
We celebrate and continue that journey by ranking and dissecting The Who’s studio discography, plus a couple of essential albums that also belong in the rock and roll quartet’s illustrious canon.