The Who Play ‘The Tonight Show’

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The Who on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, March 4 2016 (screen cap)

The Who on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, March 4 2016 (screen cap)

Nearly 50 years after they last performed on a regularly scheduled U.S. TV show – more on that later – The Who appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday night (March 4, 2016). The occasion, of course, was to promote the resumption of their Hits 50! tour and the accompanying greatest hits collection. Yet the NBC program chose to slot the band in the final segment.

(The band has famously performed as the halftime entertainment at the Super Bowl as well as at the 9/11 America: A Tribute to Heroes and 12-12-12 Sandy relief concerts at NYC’s Madison Square Garden.)

The classic rock band were relegated to the final spot on the show’s lineup, following Gwyneth Paltrow and 26-year-old YouTube personality Tyler Oakley. The Tonight Show producers obviously had their reasons. Sometime around 12:25 am, Fallon introduced The Who – who had given a triumphant concert the night before at Madison Square Garden – and they launched into a strong performance of their tour’s opening song, “Who Are You.”

Fallon joined them onstage afterwards, bowing in reverence and mock-fainting. He did not interview Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, and the program’s end credits rolled. See for yourself…


The performance was far different from the last time The Who performed on a regularly scheduled American TV show. They famously appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on September 17, 1967 to perform “My Generation.” As the song ended and Townshend began to smash his guitar, Keith Moon’s bass drum literally exploded.  You can read Best Classic Bands’ story about the entire incident here.

The Who Hits 50 North American tour continues through May 29th. Tickets are available here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. MelMelvinisky
    #1 MelMelvinisky 7 March, 2016, 10:04

    “The Tonight Show producers obviously had their reasons.” Yes, their reason was that this is late night television has worked for decades. The ignorance of being surprised that a band went on at the end of the Tonight Show is staggering. And the bands are rarely interviewed. Come on, at least pretend that you’ve done a little research before you write something.

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    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 7 March, 2016, 10:48

      Thanks for taking the time to write. In our opinion, as one of the acts that are still active and on the short list of true legends, it gives The Who status beyond the likes of others that perform on late night TV.

      So if Sir Paul or Sir Elton were on, Fallon wouldn’t have asked them a question? Oh, that’s right, you wrote “rarely.”

      He couldn’t trim his fascinating interview with Tyler Oakley by 20 seconds in order to ask: “Hey Roger, we know you had a serious illness. How are you feeling?” SMH

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