The United States gave Rock and Roll music to the world in the 50s but in the following decade it was the British bands who really took that music genre to a whole new level. The cultural phenomenon called “British Invasion” showed the world that the bands from the United Kingdom could also be known worldwide and be a huge influence to artists. Groups like The Who and The Rolling Stones rose to fame during that time and the guitarist Keith Richards was an important part of that movement.
For more than six decades on the road with The Rolling Stones, the musician had the chance to see not only his band evolve over the years but also other groups who appeared at that moment. One of them, of course was The Who. Richards even said once who is the member of the band that in his opinion is the most important one.
The Who’s most important member according to Keith Richards
Although Keith Richards did not always said good things about The Who, but he recognized their importance and talked about their music. Back in 1985 when he was talking about solo albums with Spin magazine, he was questioned about The Who’s co-founder, guitarist, main songwriter and sometimes singer Pete Townshend. In that conversation he said that the musician managed to make good solo records because in his opinion he is the most important member of The Who.
According to him, the best Who albums are those ones that Townshend almost made on his own. “In actual fact, Townshend made better Who records than the Who did together. He used to go there with the album already finished. The rest would come up with some dubs. But his was ten times better than the finished record.”
“It was just a matter of them imitating what Peter had already laid out. Kinda Hitchcockish. After doin’ the storyboards, makin’ the actual movie was a drag for Hitchcock. His role thing was puttin’ it all together.”
“But I think, in a way, I don’t know if this is true, this is my interpretation, Peter is kinda like that. He is the Who. When Moonie was alive, him and Townshend were The Who. Pete knew what he wanted to do and made damned sure they did it. But I think he coulda possibly done it better himself,” Keith Richards said.
He said that Roger Daltrey was “all-flash”
The Who’s classic formation came to an end in 1978 after the band’s drummer Keith Moon tragically died at the age of 32. All their classic albums were released with Moon, although they also made praised records with his replacement Kenney Jones.
Talking with Rolling Stone in 2015, Richards didn’t have many good things to say about the group. Besides calling them a crazy band, he said that the vocalist Roger Daltrey was “all-flash”. Also that Moon was an amazing drummer, but he only could play with Townshend.
“I always thought (Roger) Daltrey was all flash. And I love Pete Townshend, but I always thought the Who were a crazy band, anyway. You would say to (Keith) Moon, if you were in a session with him, ‘Just give me a swing,’ and he (couldn’t).”
“He was an incredible drummer, but only with Pete Townshend. He could play to Pete like nobody else in the world. But if somebody threw him into a session with somebody else, it was a disaster. There’s nothing wrong with that; sometimes you’ve got that one paintbrush, and you rock it.”
“I just was never really interested in that many English rock & roll bands actually, at all. I mean, I usually like guys like Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and that was before I was even recording. But there was something (about) the Yeses and the Journeys. All them that just left me a bit cold,” Keith Richards said.
Daltrey didn’t say many good things about The Rolling Stones recently either. Talking with Coda Collection back in 2021, he called the group a “Mediocre Pub Band”. For Daltrey, if someone heard their music coming out of a pub, they would think it’s only a mediocre pub band. He only praised the band’s vocalist Mick Jagger.
Townshend’s opinion on The Stones is not the same as his bandmate. The Stones is his favorite band of all time. He is a good friend of the band and saw them performing in the early days of their career. Townshend also was lucky enough to have been the one who inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame back in 1989.