The Who in 1975
Bass , vocals
|John Entwistle († 2002)|
|Doug Sandom (until 1964), † 2019|
Guitar, vocals, keyboard
Keith Moon (1964 - † 1978)
Kenney Jones (1978-1988)
John Bundrick ( 1979-1981, 1985-2011 )
Simon Townshend (1996-1997, since 2002)
Steve Bolton (1989)
Pino Palladino (2002 - 2016)
Jon Button (since 2017)
Simon Phillips (1989)
Zak Starkey (since 1996)
The Who is one of the most important British rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s . At first it was considered a "rowdy combo", which was to be found as part of the mod movement at the "hard" end of the " British Invasion ". In their music and their appearance, the four Englishmen represented a more aggressive variant of British rock music in comparison to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones .
They later achieved a high level of awareness through the release of the concept albums Tommy and Quadrophenia and are now considered one of the most influential rock bands in music history. The band is still musically active today and tours regularly. After the deaths of Keith Moon (1978) and John Entwistle (2002), only guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey are left from the original line-up.
Foundation and success with My Generation
Around 1959, Roger Daltrey - at that time still as lead guitarist - founded the school band The Detours in north-west London . Between 1961 and 1962 first bassist John Entwistle and then guitarist Pete Townshend joined them. All three originally attended the same school in the Acton district . Because of a competitive group of the same name, the band was renamed The Who in February 1964 . A little later, the drummer Keith Moon replaced the much older Doug Sandom, and the PR manager Peter Meaden, who was heavily influenced by the mod cult, changed the band name again. Under the name The High Numbers , Meaden's first single, I'm the Face / Zoot Suit , was published in July 1964 . However, the band remained unsuccessful, which only changed when a new management team took over the business with Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. The group, now called The Who again, first got a lot of press attention through their first television appearance, during which they destroyed their instruments. According to Daltrey's statement, the band initially only received around 100 pounds per performance, but some equipment was destroyed. As early as 1964, the band coined the term “ Maximum R&B ” for their own musical style .
The first single that the band released under the new name was already a hit parade. The producer initially was Shel Talmy , who was successful with the Kinks . I Can't Explain reached number eight on the British singles chart in early 1965, followed by the single Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere number ten. The first album, entitled My Generation , was released in December of the same year. The songs received a positive response from the young Beat audience. The Who played My Generation on extensive club tours at that time , so that this piece became a kind of hymn for a large part of the English youth. After a number of successful single hits ( My Generation , Substitute , I'm a Boy , The Kids Are Alright , Happy Jack ), the band released the album The Who Sell Out in 1967 . The commercial success was modest, so that the group - also caused by their expensive orgies of destruction during the live performances - ran into financial problems. In 1966 and 1967 the band performed a few times in Germany, for example in Cologne in November 1966 with the Lords , where the band destroyed the instruments on stage after five pieces as usual.
Around the same time, rumors were circulating that Moon and Entwistle were going to join a band around Jimmy Page . After a few rehearsals, however, a joint work was rejected. Page chose the name of his band with other musicians after a statement by Moon that a band around Page would "crash like a leaden airship" ("The band will go over like a lead zeppelin"). To clarify the name, the "a" was deleted, so that the name Led Zeppelin was created - the formation later became one of the most successful rock bands.
Tommy , Woodstock and the creative culmination
In 1969 Pete Townshend wrote the rock opera Tommy , which became a huge hit. With these recordings, The Who orientated themselves on the Pretty Things , which in 1968 had probably released the first rock opera with SF Sorrow , but which remained commercially unsuccessful. The opera's content was influenced by Townshend's Indian guru Meher Baba . 1974 followed a film adaptation with Roger Daltrey as Tommy, the other band members and the musicians Tina Turner , Elton John , Eric Clapton and the actors Ann-Margret , Oliver Reed and Jack Nicholson . In addition to this feature film by director Ken Russell , the content was also implemented as a ballet and musical by Tommy . Since the earliest recordings were rather simple, the complexity with Tommy increased significantly. The extensive tour with ecstatic stage shows and a mostly complete performance of the opera made the group one of the hottest live bands of the time.
Another success was their appearance at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, for which the band received $ 11,200, which greatly improved their financial situation. Due to the threat of financial bankruptcy, the band asked to be paid in cash, otherwise they would not perform. When Abbie Hoffman , leader of the so-called Yippie Movement , wanted to take the stage during the Tommy passage of the performance to give a speech against the arrest of John Sinclair , Townshend forcibly evicted him from the stage. The band played in the dead of night and finished their concert at dawn. The Woodstock film, which ran in cinemas worldwide and contains clips from Tommy , continued to grow in popularity .
In contrast to Tommy , Live at Leeds was released in 1970 . The original LP only contained six pieces, including three cover versions of pieces that were part of the Who repertoire (including Summertime Blues ). Live at Leeds was deliberately reminiscent of a bootleg recording in terms of sound and presentation . The LP is still considered one of the best live albums today. The almost complete concert was only released as a double CD in 2001.
After another appearance at the " Isle of Wight Festival " in 1970, Townshend designed the "Lifehouse Project", another rock opera to succeed Tommy . Conceived as a kind of multimedia project about the power of music and loudly announced in the press by Townshend, “Lifehouse” was received rather skeptically by the rest of the band members. Townshend then suffered a nervous breakdown . The songs did not appear as a double concept album as originally planned, but were gradually released as singles, on subsequent albums or on Townshend's solo albums. Who's Next from 1971 contains the majority of the “Lifehouse” compositions, including Won't Get Fooled Again , Behind Blue Eyes and Baba O'Riley some of the most famous Who pieces that are played at almost every concert to this day. The “Lifehouse” project was only completed in 1999 with a radio play and a concert performance in 2000 - with Townshend, but without The Who .
In 1973 another rock opera was released with the double LP Quadrophenia . Without reaching Tommy's commercial success , the concept album, together with the previous album Who's Next, represents the climax of The Who’s artistic output for many . The album was accompanied by an illustrated book with an introductory text that clarified the storyline. The theme of Quadrophenia is growing up from Jimmy, an English mod . In 1979 the story with the street battles between the mods, rockers and the police was filmed with the same title and is an apt description of the situation of young people in England in the mid-1960s. The tour for the album turned out to be disastrous. The backing tapes, which were supposed to make it possible to reproduce the multi-layered sound of the album on stage, did not work properly and hindered the improvising and anarchic character of a Who concert, so that the band began to perform only a few pieces live. A complete performance of Quadrophenia - with several guest musicians - was not given until 1996/1997.
The Quadrophenia tour was followed by a creative break. By the early 1970s, all members had already published various solo projects. Townshend devoted himself again to Tommy , first as an orchestrated version, then in the form of the film soundtrack, in which, alongside Daltrey in the title role, the band also appears briefly. Entwistle put together Odds & Sods , a collection of rarities and B-sides from The Who .
In 1975 the band recorded the album The Who by Numbers together . Townshend turned 30, addressed his midlife crisis and the album became accordingly autobiographical and introspective. The band toured again, albeit with a greatest hits set that contained little to no new tracks.
The death of Moon, the breakup and first new beginnings
It was not until 1978 that the next LP, Who Are You, followed with a title song of the same name, which would become the band's last great critical success and classic. Townshend, the main songwriter, tried to develop The Who musically in the face of the energy of punk , and experimented with new sounds and synthesizers . However, the recordings were accompanied by the deteriorating health of the alcoholic Keith Moon: He is not represented on one of the tracks. For the first time Daltrey sang a piece that John Entwistle had composed, which is unusually strongly represented on this album with three songs. Critics complained, however, that the band couldn't compete with the emerging punk and new wave along the length of the album , as the quality of the song material fluctuated too much.
On September 7, 1978, the drummer Keith Moon died unexpectedly of an overdose of the drug Heminevrin , which had been used to treat his high alcohol consumption.
As a replacement for Moon, Kenney Jones was signed , who had previously played in the Small Faces and the Faces and came from the same environment. In addition, from now on John Bundrick was part of the performances on the keyboards. In 1979 the first tour was carried out with the new line-up. Before a concert in the “Riverfront Coliseum” of Cincinnati , eleven people were crushed when a large number of concertgoers tried to squeeze through a few entrances. For fear of another panic, neither the band nor the other fans present were informed about this incident and the concert was carried out as planned.
While the concerts in 1979 and 1980 were enthusiastically received and ended in sometimes excessive jam sessions in which new material was tried out, Townshend's interest in the band in particular decreased increasingly since Moon's death. In addition to a new record deal for The Who , he had signed a solo contract, which put him under increasing pressure. Not least because of this, Townshend's drug use had risen sharply. In 1981 he almost died of an overdose. He addressed his alcohol problems in 1980 in his first "real" solo album Empty Glass , even before The Who new pieces, a. a. for the McVicar soundtrack.
In 1981 the album Face Dances appeared , which apart from the single hit You Better You Bet and the lavishly designed cover with portraits of the four band members of twelve contemporary artists contained little sensationalism. The tour had to be cut short because of Townshend's health. Only one appearance on Rockpalast Nacht , which was televised across Europe, took place outside of England.
1982 was almost exclusively toured. It's Hard came about between the performances and the recording of Townshend's solo album All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes . With constant touring, particularly in the US, and the announcement that this would be the band's last tour, it was quite successful commercially, although critics said the songs on Townshend's solo albums were better, and most importantly the late drummer Moon was missing, which is clearly evident in the music. After an extended and sold-out farewell tour - on which Daltrey played guitar for the first time since the "Detours" - through the sporting stadiums of the USA (with The Clash as the opening act), the group gave their last concert for the time being on December 17, 1982 in Toronto .
Although it was initially planned to record further material, give isolated concerts and demo recordings were already made, the band officially split up in 1983. The live album Who's Last was released “ Postum ” . In the following time the individual members devoted themselves to their solo activities.
In July 1985, at the request of Bob Geldof , the band came together briefly for the benefit concert Live Aid and played four songs at Wembley Stadium in London: My Generation , Pinball Wizard , Love Reign o'er Me and Won't Get Fooled Again . However, the appearance was not a good star. There had hardly been any rehearsals, so that the piece After the Fire, written especially for the event, was not played, the time was exceeded and the satellite transmission collapsed. The next joint appearance took place in 1988 on the occasion of their honoring with the British Phonographic Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award . This was the last appearance with Kenney Jones on drums. Jones had to leave the band under pressure from Daltrey, but he was able to negotiate a transfer fee because of the current contract.
In 1989, two new Who titles were released on Pete Townshend's musical album Iron Man . For the 20th anniversary of rock opera Tommy , Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle went on tour with numerous guest musicians (but without Jones), including Simon Phillips on drums. With a few exceptions, Townshend only played acoustic guitar. The band played the Tommy album almost entirely, Townshend solo pieces and other rarely played pieces, which was released on the live double CD Join Together . The musicians earned around $ 30 million on the tour.
In 1991 Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle got together again for recordings for the Elton John tribute album Two Rooms and played Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting .
Roger Daltrey celebrated his 50th birthday in 1994 on two evenings in New York's Carnegie Hall under the name "Daltrey sings Townshend" with the band of the 1989 tour. The star guests were John Entwistle and, for a piece, Pete Townshend. The latter, however, could not be persuaded to take part in the following tour, which was a financial disaster due to the high production costs and the lack of townshends.
Officially without using the name The Who , Quadrophenia was performed live in Hyde Park in 1996 with numerous guests (including David Gilmour ). The decision was made to go on an extensive tour of the USA and, the following year, Europe. The group appeared again in Germany for the first time after the Rockpalast appearance in 1981. Besides the complete Quadrophenia album, only a few greatest hits were played. Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey was on drums and Pete Townshend's brother Simon was on second guitar.
The reunion as a live band
After touring with a big band and a corresponding “orchestral” sound in previous years , The Who returned to the “small” line-up in 1999, with Zak Starkey, John Bundrick and much rougher musical garb. The focus of the gigs was no longer the concept albums, but the biggest hits.
In the fall of 1999, the group first played a few small charity appearances in the US and England, including an unplugged appearance on Neil Young's "Bridge School Benefit", which has not been released to date , before an extensive "Greatest Hits" tour followed in 2000. The highlight was a performance in the Royal Albert Hall , at which numerous guests did the honors. a. Noel Gallagher , Paul Weller , Bryan Adams , Nigel Kennedy , Stereophonics and Eddie Vedder . This gig was released on DVD and CD in 2002. In addition, concerts have been recorded and distributed regularly since 2002, initially as double albums and since 2006 also as DVDs. The proceeds were donated, among other things to the "Teenage Cancer Trust".
On October 20, 2001, The Who played at the Concert for New York City, a benefit concert for the victims and relatives of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 . This performance in the midst of a hitherto rather subdued mood is considered one of the best and most energetic of the reunited band.
On June 27, 2002, bassist John Entwistle died unexpectedly in his Las Vegas hotel room after suffering a heart attack from using cocaine. To avoid a stream of pilgrims, the hotel kept the exact room number a secret. As with Keith Moon's death, the decision was made to carry on. The upcoming three-month US tour began two days late with the Italian-British bassist Pino Palladino as substitute musician, who had already played with Tears for Fears , Eric Clapton , Phil Collins , Elton John and Paul Young . The band was additionally strengthened by Simon Townshend .
In May 2004, two new tracks were released on a further best-of album Then And Now and in a “Singles Box”: Real Good Looking Boy and the Entwistle homage Old Red Wine . In July 2004 they headlined the Isle Of Wight Festival again . In the same year, the nu-metal band Limp Bizkit successfully released a cover version of the track "Behind Blue Eyes" from 1971. At the beginning of the 21st century, the who songs Who Are You , Won't Get Fooled Again, Baba O'Riley and I Can See for Miles once again popularized by using them as the theme songs of the CSI series.
For 2005, after Zak Starkey returned from his duties as an Oasis tour drummer, a studio album with new tracks was planned. However, this was initially postponed. In July 2005, Townshend, Daltrey with John Bundrick, Simon Townshend and Paul Weller's band performed at the Live 8 concert in London right in front of Pink Floyd . In the second half of 2005 Roger Daltrey sang 49 concerts on the " Night of the Proms ". With orchestral accompaniment he played four Who pieces ( Who Are You , Behind Blue Eyes , Pinball Wizard , See Me, Feel Me ). Pete Townshend played several solo concerts with his partner Rachel Fuller and published his project "The Boy Who Heard Music" on the Internet.
"Endless Wire": The comeback
In the summer of 2006, The Who went on an extensive world tour again. As in previous years, the tour band consisted of Townshend and Daltrey, Zak Starkey, Pino Palladino, Simon Townshend and John Bundrick. The tour began on June 17, 2006 in Leeds, the location of their legendary live recording from 1970. Among other things, the band made three appearances in Germany, two in Switzerland and one in Austria.
At the end of July 2006 an EP with excerpts from the mini rock opera Wire & Glass was released , which was to form the heart of the album that followed on October 30, 2006. Endless Wire , on which Zak Starkey only plays on one track contrary to the announcement, was the first studio album in 23 years. Although the album was received with mixed feelings, the tour for the album in 2007, which also led to five concerts in Germany, was a great success.
Most recently, Daltrey and Townshend played their first long concert as a duo in the spring of 2008 as part of the annual concerts in the Royal Albert Hall for the benefit of the Teenage Cancer Trust. In October and November the band toured the United States and for the second time Japan. In December, The Who ended the year with three concerts at indigO2 in London.
7 February 2010 joined The Who in the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami Gardens ( Miami on). The Who played a medley of Pinball Wizard , Baba O'Riley , Who Are You , See Me, Feel Me and Won't Get Fooled Again .
The Who gave a Quadrophenia concert on March 30, 2010 at the Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust organization .
On August 12, 2012, The Who performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The group finished the closing ceremony and played the songs Baba O'Riley , See Me, Feel Me and My Generation in abbreviated form as a medley.
On December 12, 2012, The Who performed at the Concert for Sandy Relief . In 2013 they went on tour with Quadrophenia in Europe again.
After the best-of album The Who Hits 50! appeared with the new song Be Lucky , The Who embarked on an extensive tour for the 50th band anniversary from November 2014. After appearances in Abu Dhabi and Great Britain, it first went to the USA and since June 2015 back to Europe. The tour was described by Roger Daltrey as a "long goodbye" (in German about "gradual farewell"). After Roger Daltrey's viral illness, some dates on the North American tour had to be canceled.
In November 2019 a new album was released with the title Who , eleven songs are included, the title Ball and Chain was released as a single in advance . Tour dates for March and April in the UK are published.
Like most rock bands, The Who also played pieces from other groups at concerts or recorded their own versions. The Who was based on pieces by rock 'n' roll and blues musicians such as Bo Diddley , whose songs they played I'm a Man and Roadrunner , James Brown ( Please Please Please , I Don't Mind ) or Marvin Gaye . Eddie Cochran's Summertime Blues was particularly popular in the Who version, so the original version is often attributed to the band.
Style and instruments
The songs were usually written by Pete Townshend . According to his own account, he was influenced by rock songs like Rock Around the Clock in his youth . Because of the conception of the first rock operas, he was assigned a role as an important pop composer and guitarist. Compared to many other guitarists of the 1960s, Townshend has fewer blues influences. He developed his own style, some of which was even copied by Jimi Hendrix . Townshend is known for his special playing of the strings, in which he lets his arm circle in a wide arc, which is often referred to as a "windmill" (English windmill ). According to his own statements, he copied this technique from the Stones guitarist Keith Richards .
Roger Daltrey says he is a fan of Elvis Presley . The song Real Good Looking Boy , recorded in 2003, is intended to pay homage to them. In the opinion of critics, Daltrey's voice is not outstanding, but it stands out for its power and an "unadorned vocal style". Occasionally there was a dispute between Daltrey and Townshend, for example when Daltrey was in the focus of public attention because of his leading role in Tommy .
John Entwistle , longtime bass player, made a significant contribution to the typical sound with his playing. He played both with and without a pick . He often accompanied Townshend's guitar with pentatonic runs , as can be heard, for example, in My Generation . His bass solo in this piece is considered to be one of the first ever electric bass solos to be released on record. Entwistle's qualities as a bass player are widely praised by the music press, and in 2000 Guitar Magazine named him "Bassist of the Millennium". Entwistle was considered a haven of calm in the band and was nicknamed The Ox . At concerts he made an appearance through his bass solos, especially his improvisations in the piece 5:15 from the album Quadrophenia could reach a length of several minutes.
Early in their career, the band used Marshall branded amplifiers . At Townshend's request, Marshall developed the first 100 watt top in 1965, the so-called 1959 , with an 8x12 "box. The box was divided up for better transport, so that the famous Marshall Stack was created, which Townshend and Entwistle henceforth The musicians switched to the British manufacturer Sound City in 1967. Townshend played Fender Stratocaster guitars and amplifiers on the 2007 European tour .
Destruction as an artistic element
Especially in the early years, the musicians were known for destroying their instruments at the end of every performance. Townshend alone is said to have destroyed more than 3,000 guitars. If this occurred regularly in the early years, the frequency decreased later. Townshend demolished the last guitar in 2004 on the occasion of the group's first gig in Japan. According to Townshend, this destruction was influenced by the concept of auto- destructive art by Gustav Metzger , who taught at the Ealing Art College , which Townshend and Entwistle attended .
On May 31, 1976, they earned an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the loudest rock show in the world at the Charlton Football Ground with 120 dB , measured at a distance of 50 meters from the stage. This record was later surpassed by the heavy metal band " Manowar ".
In 1990 he was accepted into the " Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ". In 1993 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) published the sales of some albums in the United States. Accordingly, Hooligans , Who's Better and Who's Best Gold for half a million sales, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy , Quadrophenia and The Who by Numbers went platinum for one million, Greatest Hits , Live at Leeds , Tommy and Who Are You double platinum and Who's Next triple platinum. Still, the band never had a # 1 single in either the UK or the US.
The Rolling Stone listed The Who on rank 29 of the 100 greatest players of all time . In the autumn of 2003, the critics of the German edition of the music magazine Who's Next put it at number 28 and the previous album Tommy at number 96 on the list of the 500 best albums of all time. In the April 2005 Rolling Stone compilation of the 500 best songs of all time, My Generation from the album of the same name was placed at number 11. The Who's Next songs Won't Get Fooled Again and Baba O'Riley were listed at number 121 and 394, respectively. In the corresponding US survey, the songs landed in places 133 and 340.
The Who is one of the early and most influential rock bands. In the early years, they were considered a role model and important representative of the mod movement . Punk and new wave bands like The Clash and The Jam were influenced. In the 1990s, many Britpop bands oriented themselves to the music of the mods and took up their elements, for example Oasis , Blur , Suede and Pulp .
The release of Tommy had a significant influence on subsequent rock musicals and concept albums and was among others by David Bowie with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust , Jethro Tulls Thick as a Brick and Pink Floyd with albums such as The Dark Side of the Moon , Animals and The Wall mimicked in a similar way.
The Who pieces have often been re-enacted by other bands. Many musicians in particular played My Generation in their own versions, including Alice Cooper , Green Day , Helge Schneider , Iron Maiden , Manfred Mann , Oasis , Patti Smith , Pearl Jam and The Sweet . Other performers with Who covers are David Bowie ( Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere , I Can't Explain ), Styx and Tina Turner ( I Can See for Miles ) and the Scorpions ( I Can't Explain ), punk bands like the Ramones and Sex Pistols ( Substitute ) or Rush ( The Seeker ), Queensrÿche and Van Halen (Won't Get Fooled Again).
One of the most famous versions of the last few years is Behind Blue Eyes , which was reinterpreted by Limp Bizkit in 2003 . In 2007 the English group The Rooms covered the song My Generation . The band, whose members have an average age of 78 years, wanted to draw attention to their generation and defend themselves against simply being deported and on the edge of society.
Film music (soundtracks)
Singles (releases in Germany)
- Chris Charlesworth, Ed Hanel: Story and songs compact . 2004, ISBN 3-86543-220-4
- Tony Fletcher: Dear Boy - The Explosive Life of Keith Moon. 2008, ISBN 978-3-86543-218-6
- Christoph Geisselhart: The Who - Maximum Rock (The story of the craziest rock band in the world - Volume 1) . Hannibal Verlag, Höfen 2007, ISBN 978-3-85445-283-6
- Christoph Geisselhart: The Who - Maximum Rock (The story of the craziest rock band in the world - Volume 2) . Hannibal Verlag, Höfen 2009, ISBN 978-3-85445-297-3
- Christoph Geisselhart: The Who - Maximum Rock (The story of the craziest rock band in the world - Volume 3) . Hannibal Verlag, Höfen 2009, ISBN 978-3-85445-306-2
- Dave Marsh: Before I Get Old: The Story of The Who . 1983, ISBN 0-85965-083-9
- Pete Townshend: Who I Am . HarperCollins , 2012. ISBN 978-0-00-746603-0
- Mark Wilkerson: Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend . 2006, ISBN 1-4116-7700-5
- official homepage
- The Who at laut.de
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- Fanpage (German)
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- "The band's third single, 'My Generation', becomes the anthem of the English youth" on www.wdr.de ( Memento from August 21, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
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- "It achieves its tension and emotional effect from the realistically depressing description of the situation of young people in England in the mid-1960s, whose attempts to break out were doomed to failure from the start." On br-online.de: Quadrophenia ( Memento from November 6th 2007 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on January 2, 2007
- "More problematic was the erratic quality of the material, which seemed torn between blustery attempts at contemporary relevance" on www.allmusic.com . "This gives one the feeling that the Who aren't moving, that they aren't gearing up for a great rock & roll shoot-out with the competition, heading off for better times. [...] 'Music Must Change' might be announcing the need for a New Wave, but it's quite consciously two years out of date, and what's more, the music itself sounds old and stiff - there's not a single musical concession to punk, reggae or even hard-nosed rock. " www.rollingstone.com
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- Giuliano Benassi: Hits, interesting B-sides and two new songs. In: laut.de. May 10, 2004, accessed July 3, 2015 .
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