Contact Us

29 Years Ago: The Who Announce Breakup

Pete Townshend 1982
YouTube

The Who were undoubtedly one of the most innovative and important hard rock bands of all time. Ranging from psychedelic pop rock material like ‘I Can See For Miles‘ and ‘Pinball Wizard‘ all the way through epic arena rock classics like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again‘ and ‘Who Are You,’ they virtually single-handedly perfected both the concept album and the rock opera. But the latter part of the decade was unkind to the group, who experienced a series of misfortunes leading into the early part of the ’80s. On Dec. 16, 1983, guitarist Pete Townshend announced that he was leaving the Who, effectively ending the group.

Townshend had gone through a particularly rough patch for the previous few years, beginning with the death of drummer Keith Moon in September of 1978. On Dec. 3, 1979 the Who were struck by another unforeseen tragedy when eleven fans were trampled and killed at a Who gig in Cincinnati.

The guitarist’s personal life was also unraveling. His marriage had come apart due to the stress of the Who’s touring schedule, and his longstanding drinking habit had increased and grown to include cocaine and heroin, developing into a serious heroin addiction. Townshend moved to California to clean up, and the group rebounded with two more albums; 1981′s ‘Face Dances,’ and ‘It’s Hard’ in 1982.

But the group’s new sound alienated some fans, and the struggle to find relevance in the changing music scene of the ’80s led Townshend to steer the group into a Farewell Tour, which they undertook in 1982. He intended to turn the Who into a purely studio recording group, but after spending part of 1983 trying to write material for a contractually obligated album, the frustrated guitarist declared that he could no longer generate music appropriate for the Who. On Dec. 16 he announced his decision to leave the group at a press conference, bringing the Who to an end.

Townshend went on to work as an acquisitions editor at Faber & Faber, as well as releasing a long string of solo albums and projects. The Who reunited for Live Aid in 1985 and a full-fledged reunion tour in 1989. The group have subsequently toured together in many different permutations. They even released a new studio album, ‘Endless Wire,’ in 2006, with Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey still using the group name despite the death of bassist John Entwistle in 2002. The pair continue to tour as the Who to the present day –  thirty years after their Farewell Tour.

Next: Top 10 Who Songs of the '70s

More From Q107

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://q1077.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on CLASSIC ROCK Q107 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here.

Sign up for an account to comment, share your thoughts, and earn points to get great prizes.

Register on CLASSIC ROCK Q107 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!