Talkin' 'bout another generation, The Who return to the studio

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The Independent Culture

"I hope I die before I get old," sang Roger Daltrey nearly 40 years ago in "My Generation". Today, the frontman of The Who is looking distinctively middle-aged but, far from being dead, he and Pete Townshend are preparing the band's first studio album for 22 years.

"I hope I die before I get old," sang Roger Daltrey nearly 40 years ago in "My Generation". Today, the frontman of The Who is looking distinctively middle-aged but, far from being dead, he and Pete Townshend are preparing the band's first studio album for 22 years.

The two surviving members of The Who, who have famously clashed for much of their career, are meeting in the studio next month to go over newly written material.

If all goes to plan, next year they will release their first new album since 1982, provisionally entitled Who2 .

Daltrey, 60, has given a tantalising glimpse of what fans can hope for, promising a break from anything The Who have done before. "I'm just about to go into the studio again with Pete for the first time in 22 years. It's exciting. It's going to be very different," he said. Townshend, 59, has also discussed the project on his official website, promising that, if all goes well, The Who will tour in 2005.

" Who2 will not be a concept album. That is, in itself, a concept for me. Roger and I meet in mid-December to play what we have written. If we move ahead from there, we may have a CD to release in the spring," Townshend said. "My working title for the project - Who2 - is only partly tongue-in-cheek. If the recording works out we will tour with the usual band in the first half of 2005."

The band released their last studio album, It's Hard , in 1982 and split the next year, but they have had several reunion tours since.

The other founding members, drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle, died in 1978 and 2002 respectively - Moon as the result of an accidental drug overdose, Entwistle from a heart attack.

However, Daltrey and Townshend have played several high-profile gigs this year, with Pino Palladino on bass and Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr, on drums. Performances have included the Isle of Wight Festival, touring the Far East and Australia, and concerts in London, Birmingham and New York.

Daltrey and Entwistle, school friends from west London, met Townshend in the early 1960s and formed a band called the Detours and later High Numbers. In 1964, they became The Who after being joined by Moon. The band, whose style was strongly influenced by the Mod fashion of the time, went on to record a succession of hits including "Substitute", "I Can't Explain", "I'm A Boy" and "Pictures of Lily". Like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, The Who enjoyed fame on both sides of the Atlantic, with memorable appearances at Monterey in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969.

Townshend, the song-writing genius in the band, created the first rock opera, Tommy , in 1969, including the track "Pinball Wizard". In the 1970s, The Who produced a series of acclaimed albums including Who's Next , Quadrophenia , The Who By Numbers and Who Are You .

In 1978, the hard-living Moon died. Townshend once said that the band should have split after Moon's death, but instead they continued with a replacement drummer.

In May, Townshend and Daltrey released two new tracks on a compilation of the band's classics, including "Old Red Wine", a tribute to Entwistle.

The DJ Bob Harris said The Who were part of the first generation of rockers who have had to face the dilemma of whether to continue making music into their middle age. "Is it as exciting as a new band that's breaking down barriers? No. Is it an event? Yes, it is," he said.

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