Gary Herman, 'The Who' (Studio Vista, 1971)

The first book to be published on the The Who, but one rarely referenced. The author had a column in Let It Rock where he wrote about technical things like microphones and PA systems. That side is lacking here, instead he uses an Eng. Lit. approach to pick apart the themes in Townshend’s songs, which is all so so. In what is essentially a long essay, the best element by far is how he works in a relatively sustained examination of the band’s synthesis of a Mod sensibility into their work and very being - a Mod’s view of life that is as much there in ‘My Generation’ as it is in ‘Sally Simpson’ or any other number from Tommy.

‘Above all, because Mods pursued the end of non-self-alienation, they also pursued collective experience. It is totally inaccurate to describe Mods as “individualists,” for they were only individualist in the sense that the whole group saw itself, and was seen, as a unit separate from the conformities of contemporary society. . . No matter how far The Who have left their original sources of inspiration behind, the jubilation and the triumph of the collective mod experience always manages to reassert itself.’

The book is also thoughtfully illustrated throughout with some brilliantly chosen images and carefully considered page design. David Goard’s otherwise unremarkable cover illustration foreshadows Quadrophenia with its rendering of Townshend’s head combining the band’s four facets.



In the February 1975 edition of Let It Rock, Gary Herman gave the low-down on all things Who since the publication of his book in 1971. Solo albums from Daltrey and Townshend, three from Entwistle and one forthcoming from Moon, seven singles, Leeds, Next and Quadrophenia, and two compilations had followed. A lot of product . . .

In his review of Quadrophenia for Phonograph Review (December 1973), Greg Shaw noted that Gary Herman had written ‘a whole book about Mod, and when it came time to put a title on it, his choice was clear cut, he called it “The Who.”’ Which is kinda true in a way, so it is not surprising Herman is most concerned with the band’s latest studio outing in his Let It Rock overview. He was not much impressed:

But Quadrophenia doesn’t ring true as a simple Mod’s tale. It’s too overloaded with Townshend’s self-conscious and arty interpretations; it’s too much of what he thinks Mods should have felt.