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Medical reasons may force The Who to retire

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    Fans of music expect their favorites to stay eternally youthful, playing past albums for decades and decades. We expect B.B. King to continue strumming his guitar, Levon Helm to drum like its 1969, and Ralf Hütter to keep the entity of Kraftwerk alive. Failing to consider that years on the road, and years away from family, take a toll on these artist’s lives; we expect them to live for us.

    For years, the great artists did live for their fans, touring 280 days a year, spending the rest of the time in the studio. It seems like this lifestyle may have finally caught up with rock legends, The Who. Years of explosive shows, namely the band’s 1976 performance at the Charlton Athletic football ground which would go down as the loudest ever, have caused guitarist Pete Townshend to suffer from incurable tinnitus.

    Tinnitus results in a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears, along with hearing loss, which would make it quite impossible for Townshend to perform at the level he expects. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the guitarist revealed that the problem returned while he was working on his musical Floss. And because of it, despite its recent Super Bowl Half time performance, The Who has been forced to cancel plans to tour the USA this year. (This makes one wonder about the validity of Townshend’s announcement about canceling plans for the purpose of writing.)

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    That said, the two remaining founding members refuse to give up easily. They will try out a monitoring system recommended by an audiologist when the band play Quadrophenia in full at London’s Albert Hall on March 30th. If the new system is not a solution, Townshend tells Rolling Stone: “We’re not delaying shows. We’re finished. I can’t really see any way around the issue.”

    Here’s hoping that this new monitor system works, and we can continue to hear “Pinball Wizard”, “My Generation”, and “Squeeze Box” eminating from one of the best guitarists of any generation.

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