Permanent Records: Keith Moon’s death blunted—but didn’t end—The Who’s greatness

Permanent Records is an ongoing closer look at the records that matter most.

By 1981, it was tempting to pat The Who on the shoulder and thank the group for a good run. After more than 15 years together, the arrival of punk and new wave at the dawn of the MTV era left less room for the band’s blend of classic rock, R&B, and stadium bravado. But The Who had bigger issues to tackle than the evident cultural sea change in front of it. Almost three years after Keith Moon’s death, the band still had to find a way to soldier onward without its rhythmic madman.

Drummers come and go, but this was an especially tall order. With perhaps the lone exception of Led Zeppelin, no band relied so heavily on its man behind the kit. The Who was a four-man operation bolstered by the sum of …

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