Here is an excerpt from Billy Corgan’s comments about The Who from Relix Magazine:
I remember when I was little, listening to a 7” of “Pinball Wizard” my cousin had and loving the guitar. The thing that sticks out in my mind about the first time I heard “Pinball Wizard” was how different it sounded than all the other bands at the time. It was powerful but it wasn’t like what you were used to hearing. Even now, The Who’s music strikes me as distinctive. The language and the way they play together are so unique.
My relationship with The Who, in a personal way—where the music meant something to me personally—took time. I never had that personal connection until I was about 18, when I got Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy.
If you listen to Pete Townshend’s songs without the band—lately, I’ve been listening to the Quadrophenia demos—the music is not as rugged or aggressive. There’s something about Pete’s introspective songwriting meeting the street thuggery of the band that, to a young a man, you identify with its fighting spirit.
It’s an existential identification as opposed to say the punk ethos of the Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols, to me, sounded like fighting music. The Who sounded like “I’m trapped in something and I’m not really sure what to do but I’m going to kick my way out of here” kind of music. It had a different emotional resonance to it: the lyrics, the feelings and even the different periods of the band.
Even in their poppy, ‘60s incarnation, The Who weren’t cuddly. There was a smirking, snotty punk thing. To an accommodating class—rock and roll has become about accommodation more than anything else—the message is too complex; the history is too non-linear.
I’ve often said that, in many ways, The Who was probably the closest blueprint to my band, The Smashing Pumpkins, as far as an introspective singer/songwriter finds aggressive, ever-melting-down rock vehicle to perpetrate his wares. I identified with The Who even more so when I was in the Pumpkins in the ‘90s [with the original lineup] because I felt like I understood what Pete was expressing interpersonally about what he was going through as a person and his experience in a band that couldn’t be controlled.