2:05pm Monday 30th June 2014
© Press Association 2014
Rock veterans The Who have announced a series of 50th anniversary shows - and suggested it would be their last major tour by telling fans it was the start of their "long goodbye".
The group - featuring Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, the two surviving members from the original quartet - will play a series of arena shows from November which they say will be an "amazing journey" through their career.
The Who, who formed in 1964 as the High Numbers, have continued to perform high profile shows with occasional lengthy breaks in their career.
Frontman Roger Daltrey spoke last year about how the band would be reining-in their touring commitments and said they were planning a "last old-fashioned, big tour".
The 70-year-old vocalist - who famously sang "hope I die before I get old" in early hit My Generation - said today of the newly announced Who Hits 50 shows: "This is the beginning of the long goodbye."
The Who - whose well-known songs have included hits Won't Get Fooled Again, I Can't Explain, Baba O'Riley and Pinball Wizard - have weathered the deaths of their manic drummer Keith Moon in 1978 and bass player John Entwistle in 2002.
In 2011 they are said to have reached an audience of more than 100 million when they were chosen to play at the US Super Bowl, then went on to perform at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics the following year.
Their last album of new material Endless Wire was issued in 2006, and was itself the first release for 24 years.
Guitarist Pete Townshend, 69, joked about their anniversary: "We are what we are, and extremely good at it, but we're lucky to be alive and still touring. If I had enough hairs to split I would say that for 13 years since 1964, The Who didn't really exist - so we are really only 37."
The shows begin on November 30 at Glasgow's SSE Hydro, and wind up at the O2 Arena in London on December 17.
Tickets go on sale on Friday July 4 at 9am.
Daltrey said, as he announced the tour in London, that the rigours of the road had contributed to the decision to stop touring, although it was not clear how long the band's tour would continue.
He said: "We can't go on touring for ever. We don't know how long we will go on touring, it could be open-ended but it will have a finality to it.
"We'll stop touring before we stop playing as a band, but it's just like Eric Clapton's just said, it's the grind of the road. it's incredibly tough on the body."
Townshend held out the possibility of some rarely-aired material, like they did during a 25th anniversary tour for which they rehearsed around 100 songs.
"We're not quite going to that extent this time but we're hoping that there will be a few nice surprises for people who have seen us many times over the years."
Townshend said he is not normally a huge fan of touring but he was keen to go on the road for this "significant anniversary".
Announcing the dates at Ronnie Scott's club in London, where the band premiered the songs from their rock opera Tommy in 1969, he said: "I really want to do it.
"I often don't want to do it, I often don't want to go on tour. I'm not crazy about performing. I feel good at it and I find it fulfilling but it's not something I enjoy as much as sitting at home in my studio and writing songs, or whatever it is that I do. But I think this one I really wanted to do, It's a significant anniversary.
"For me, it's just about playing and celebrating the 50th anniversary."
Daltrey said he wanted to tour because he simply wanted to make the most of his his abilities while he still can.
"As a singer, I don't know how long my voice will last like this. I'm just making the most of it. It's the one thing I get the most out of, other than family life. On stage singing is the most natural thing in the world, it's where I like to be.
"It won't be there forever and it will go.They'll be days when I'll be sitting there thinking 'I wish I could be on stage and sing', and that's going to happen I'm sure."
The pair also held out the prospect of recording new material together again and Townshend said he had already passed on rough demo versions of three songs to his bandmate.
"I came up with three songs and I thought I must send them to Rog. Happily he likes them so we're considering trying to get into the studio this summer. "
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