The Who are widely regarded as pioneers and heavy influencers of British Mod culture. Discover how the band moulded the Mod scene, and find out how you can see them perform live and in style.

Last Updated: 03/02/23 at 10:00

In the 60s, the music scene was heavily dominated by rock n' roll artists including Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, and Frankie Lymon.

While the scene boomed, many young Brits sought something different and the times were calling out for a musical revolution.

As the soulful blues sounds of black culture hit the airwaves, the youth became inquisitive and latched onto artists including Georgie Fame and the Thunderbirds.

It was then that the Mods were born.

Bands including The Who and Small Faces were essential to the growth of Mod culture and are now seen as emblems of the movement.

So, grab your Parkas and Vespas, as we show you how The Who influenced one of Britain's most famous movements.        

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What is a Mod?

Image: Vespas (Photo by Teng Yuhong)

Mod is a subculture that began in London in the 1960s. The movement encompassed people who listened to jazz, soul, rhythm, scar, and blues music.

The subculture is also strongly associated with fashion and motor scooters, namely Vepsas and Lambrettas.

The Who's sound and Mod culture

Alongside groups such as Small Faces and The Creation, The Who were one of the first bands to emerge as particularly 'mod-orientated' - their lead singer had a truly soulful voice, fitting with the Mods' love for 'R&B' influences and deep music.

In the early years, the band were influenced by trad jazz and contemporary pop but soon moved into a more mod-influenced style with Motown and R&B sounds taking prominence.

While the band were known for crossing genres, and depending on who you ask can be referred to as 'pop' or 'rock', their sound tackled the rock n' roll style that the 50s/60s had come to know, hitting it head-on with a new modern approach.

Mods today still regard The Who as one of the greatest Mod bands to exist, noting their influence on the scene through their staple rock-opera style, and combination of wider genres.

The Who and Mod fashion

The Who performing in Hamburg in 1972
Image: The Who in Hamburg 1972 (Photo sourced from Wikimedia Commons)

The Who's influence on Mod fashion is often contested, with some stating that "grassroots Mods" would not have adopted the band's love of union jack jackets and pop art t-shirts.

While The Who often dressed more flamboyantly, and perhaps more femininely than many Mods, their roles as famous musicians and performers expected such from them.

However, it is undeniable that the youth did respond well to the group's outlandish outfits. Their mix of classic Mod tailoring and casual style took influence from and fed into the Mod scene's separation from the former Teddy Boy movement of the 50s.

The Who's casual fashion was also instrumental in forming and popularising the Mod look of a polo shirt, parka, and tailored trousers. This vision embraced a more relaxed approach compared to the previous "Edwardian inspired", straight style that had defined the early Mod.  

The Who and rebellion

The Mod subculture, and its clash with rivals 'The Rockers', led to some level of moral panic in Britain. As the UK experienced civil rights tensions, Mods and Rockers butted heads over differences in opinion and ways of life.

While The Who broached on rock musical influences, they were Mods through and through and exercised their beliefs and artistry through artistic acts of rebellion.

The iconic live performers are famed for their guitar-smashing, high-energy, destructive performances. Check out our blog to explore The Who's best live performances and legacy.

It is hard to say how much The Who's performances influenced acts of rebellion and the rift against 'The Rockers', but it is sure that the band's live shows provided a place for their fellow Mods to express their feelings and frustrations through the power of music.

The Who and Quadrophenia

The Mods somewhat disbanded in the early 70s and were replaced by the 'flower power' of the Hippie movement.

In the late 70s, artists including Paul Weller and The Jam were instrumental in reviving British Mod culture and music.

While The Who dominated the early movement, they were equally as present in the late 70s when their film label released Quadrophenia and elevated the subculture to peak popularity once again.

The film was based on one of The Who's best albums (of the same name), and followed the story of a young Mod named Jimmy Cooper, telling the tale of young rebellion.

Quadrophenia is one of the most popular British films of all time and continues to communicate and influence Mod culture to younger generations - without The Who, this wouldn't be possible!

How Can I Watch The Who Perform Live From Premium Seating?

The Who have revealed that they will be touring the UK in summer 2023.

When they do hit the British roads again, you won’t want to miss out on seeing the legendary group on tour. After all, The Who’s live performances are known to be high-energy, entertainment spectaculars!

If you are a big fan of The Who or want to treat someone who is, why not explore VIP ticket options?

With The Who VIP tickets you will enjoy hospitality inclusions such as backstage access, front row seats, lounge access and food and drink options.

Check out our blog to discover the latest The Who tour news and check out the premium ticket packages on offer to buy now!

*Inclusions vary by date, venue and package

Buy The Who VIP tickets

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