Skip to content or Skip to navigation

You are here:

Background information on Whotabs

About this page

Background, history, contributors and general information about Whotabs.

Table of Contents

Since there’s plenty here you won’t want to read, for faster navigation, click on a link to view that subject:

About the Whotabs site

Founded in 1997, Whotabs (and its predecessors) has tried to provide a recreational and educational resource online for the fans of The Who to gain a better understanding and appreciation of The Who’s music.

Please note:

This resource is not intended to be a substitution for the recorded works or anything else related to The Who and its members, nor is it affiliated in any manner to The Who organization or its members.

The transcriptions posted herein are merely the respective transcribing author’s own work and represent their interpretations of the songs. You may only use these files for private study, scholarship, or research. All copyrighted songs, lyrics, recorded works, music — whether recorded or performed by The Who, its members or subsequent cover artists and whether attributed appropriately or not — and/or anything else related to The Who, its members or published works that are represented or referenced herein are property of the original author or publisher.

If you plan to use the contents of this site for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holder(s).

The contributors and Whotabs site administrators receive nothing in return for our efforts, other than the appreciation and thanks from visitors to the site, who can gain a better knowledge, understanding and appreciation for the musical legacy of The Who.

For a history of how Whotabs came to be, see Why did I start transcribing?, below.

Why is the site set up like it is?

The focus of this site is about transcriptions. That’s why we’ve tried to stay away from heavy graphics, java applets and other elements that don’t have a whole lot to do with transcriptions. When additions have been made, such as the singles and compilations indexes, they are intended to get you to the transcriptions you’re looking for, not disrupt you with long graphic loads. There are no banner ads or external links (save for, our gracious host), as we receive no income from advertising or otherwise and do not have any sponsors for our efforts.

(Amendment for the equipment section: Unlike the tablature section of Whotabs, the equipment section is heavily loaded with information, photos and external links, all intended to further your understanding of the Who’s pioneering achievements in instrumentation, amplification and PA.)

Why no zip files?

This may be an eventual addition to the site. However, as you can see from the update history, transcriptions are added or modified about once a month. Once this activity slows down, then we may compile all the files into compressed, downloadable files.

Contributions, corrections and suggestions

We know Whotabs isn’t perfect. We have tried to do a good job about being reasonably accurate. However, it is people who transcribe, so there are bound to be errors. If you see errors or omissions, contact Whotabs.

If you have transcriptions that you’ve done (we don’t knowingly accept transcriptions that are plagiarized — from any source), send them in and they’ll be posted. Before doing so, please see the submission guidelines.

If you have requests or suggestions for transcriptions or changes to the site, let us know by contacting Whotabs.

There’s no guarantee they will be done, but we will put out the request to our pool of transcribers and see if anyone bites.

If you have questions about an existing transcription, send a note to the transcriber.


Many people’s efforts have gone into making Whotabs what it is today. Some of the transcriptions on this site are from the old Nevada/OLGA files from before it was dismantled, though most of those transcriptions have been revised and replaced. Known, albeit incomplete, list of active contributors (those I’ve had contact with) are as follows (in alphabetical order):

The transcriptions posted by these authors are their own work and represent their interpretations of the songs. You may only use the transcription files for private study, scholarship, or research. All copyrighted songs, lyrics, recorded works, music and/or anything else that are represented herein are property of the original author or publisher.

If you plan to use the contents of this site for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holder(s).

Want to see your name here? See Contributions, corrections and suggestions.

Bass transcriptions?

Unlike many proprietary transcription sites, we don’t have a separate bass transcription section. This is primarily due to the lack of bass transcriptions available — a likely cause being that John’s bass playing is the most unbelievable playing you’ve ever heard and would be virtually impossible to transcribe. Nonetheless, some songs, including My Generation, Naked Eye, Pinball Wizard, The Real Me, The Seeker, Boris The Spider, Who Are You and You Better You Bet, contain separate bass transcriptions. Others, such as The Ox, Substitute, It’s Your Turn and I Can’t Reach You, contain portions or notes about the bass patterns but not a full transcription.

There’s only one way to remedy this dearth of bass transcriptions: someone start transcribing them! If you’re interested, send them to Whotabs. We’ll gladly post them to Whotabs.

The reissue series

As was typical of ’60s acts, many songs were released as singles or b-sides instead of on albums. And, many tracks remained unreleased and were either relegated to bootlegs or the vaults. Following the release of the Thirty Years of Maximum R&B box set, The Who began reissuing its entire catalogue (sans My Generation) — based on the original British releases (which means A Quick One instead of Happy Jack) — with the tracks completely remixed and remastered. As a bonus, the many singles, b-sides and unreleased tracks have been incorporated into the reissue series, based on their time of recording. Hence, a song such as Glittering Girl, which had been recorded in 1967 but relegated to the vault and never released, appeared as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out reissue. Although not every track The Who ever recorded or performed has been accounted for in the reissue series (we have a Rarities section for those tracks), most have, and that’s where you’ll find them on Whotabs.

For complete discography information, see

My transcriptions

While I can’t guarantee that everything that I’ve posted to Whotabs is 100% correct, it’s a lot closer than what you’ll find elsewhere and it’s done completely by ear (yes, I’ve been asked if I copy transcriptions out of books…) based on my knowledge and appreciation of The Who’s music. No, I’m not an expert, and I make plenty of mistakes, but I believe I’m starting from a place that others have failed to grasp: The people who have transcribed Who songs previously don’t take into consideration the essence of any kind of appreciation, music or otherwise; you have to learn Pete’s style before trying to transcribe his songs. With other guitarists of the genre and songs of the ’60s/’70s era, there are volumes of transcriptions available that seem to be correct. In my estimation, this is because all the usual suspects of the ’60s garnered their style directly from American blues records, which is an all-too-familiar style with transcribers, guitar teachers, bands, etc. However, I’ve yet to see *any* source that exhibits a true understanding of Pete’s style, and let alone transferring that understanding to transcriptions.

Other sources for my transcriptions

Because I’ve been transcribing and posting transcriptions online since 1995, some of my transcriptions have traveled far and wide beyond the location I originally posted them (see Why did I start transcribing?). If you’ve checked the Whotabs update history, you’ll see that I and other transcribers make many revisions to the transcriptions on Whotabs. However, the transcriptions that are taken from here or — more likely — from OLGA mirrors, which have proliferated since the main OLGA site was shut down, and are posted on another site are likely many versions previous to the most recent versions posted here. What’s more, many times my “credit” has been removed from the transcription, giving that site’s users the impression that the transcriptions were not mine. Though I’ve requested that other sites either remove the offending tabs or, in the least, credit me for my efforts, not everyone has responded as such. Therefore, to be assured that you’re viewing the most up-to-date version of a transcription that I’ve done, Whotabs is the place to come. Use any other site, and I can’t vouch for the quality or accuracy of the transcription.

Why did I start transcribing?

The history of Whotabs

When I first logged on to the Internet sometime in 1994 or 1995 and discovered newsgroups, I eventually found Nevada, precursor to the online guitar archive, or OLGA, a huge resource for transcriptions of all artists and bands imaginable. I thought this would be a great opportunity to relearn some of those great Who songs I’d long since forgotten. (I had the long-since out-of-print books, but those are transcribed for easy guitar/piano/vocal arrangements, and aren’t meant to accompany the recorded works.) Instead, I found mostly garbage, with incorrect lyrics, incorrect chords, missing bridges, no leads or tab, and even transcriptions copied straight out of the published books. (You can see what was there before I got to them by going to Chris’s Who Lynx at and checking a couple of the “Another Who Tabs” sites). Having seen what was available for other bands of The Who’s stature in the Rock Pantheon — The Beatles Complete Scores anthology being the best example — I was frustrated that The Who’s representation was so paltry.

As far as I knew at that time, The Who were done for. Daltrey had just done his DST tour, but there was no other activity out of the Who camp, as far as I knew. So, I set about to “honor their memory” by correcting the transcriptions at OLGA/Nevada, intending to retranscribe the ones that were incorrect, and maybe add a few that I knew how to play. At one time I knew many of the songs, but it had been a while since I’d played a lot of them, and had never really transcribed before. Nonetheless, my overall goal was to provide my insight on how the songs were actually played on record and on stage. Having viewed countless videos and listened to their catalog countless times, I had a pretty good understanding of Pete’s unique style.

However, after transcribing a dozen or so songs and becoming more comfortable with transcribing, the OLGA/Nevada was shut down because of industry pressure.

I continued transcribing or re-transcribing songs, including adding on to and making some corrections to the big “Tommy” document that was posted at Nevada. But, because of Nevada’s status, I had no place to post them. Lo and behold, sometime in fall/winter 1995, Kenny Sahr, who had posted a few transcriptions of his own to Nevada, contacted me to say he had made space available on his server where he would make Who transcriptions available, and would like me to post there as well. Thinking that this was a great idea, I started submitting transcriptions to him, and The Who Guitar Page was off and running. Soon, OLGA was back operating, and I submitted transcriptions simultaneously to both The Who Guitar Page and OLGA.

Soon, though, OLGA was back down again and Kenny was very involved with another online venture, so the transcription site was no longer being maintained. In April 1997, Gary Leeke then contacted me and proposed a new site — one that was dedicated only to The Who. He transferred all the files from the old site and, on June 29, 1997, Whotabs was launched, generously hosted by Scott Smith’s

At that time, there were indexes for all the albums plus Pete solo and a miscellaneous index, but there weren’t all that many files under each heading. Slowly but surely, however, I, and the other contributors, have filled in the blanks, so that now, there is a transcription for every song recorded by The Who, and a whole lot more.

No, not every transcription is a complete tablature-filled masterpiece (IMO, not every song relies on the lead for the structure of the song, but others do). And I’m sure there are still errors and gaps. But, it’s what we’ve done, and we’re always trying to improve upon what’s there (Take a look at the update history to see how many times I’ve posted “revised” transcriptions). And while I can’t guarantee the 100% accuracy of everything I’ve ever posted, it’s very close, it’s done completely by ear (I’ve been asked if I copy transcriptions out of books), and I’m pretty confident that you’ll be able to use this site as the resource for which it is intended. No, you won’t find “easy arrangements for piano” or guitar-teacher “the way it should be played” versions. But instead, a place to enjoy The Who’s music through “definitive” transcriptions — *the* way they’re played by Pete and The Who.

August 1999
slightly updated April 2000

Note (12/01):

Some “descriptions” of Whotabs indicate that transcriptions on this site appear to be taken from OLGA and similar sources. As of December 2001, of the almost 400 transcriptions on Whotabs, only eight or so of original The Who Guitar Page/OLGA transcriptions are archived on Whotabs (including Annie, Boris The Spider (bass), Guitar and Pen, The Real Me (bass), Face The Face, Miracle Cure, Sunrise, and Zoot Suit). Everything else is either an original submission to Whotabs (or revision thereof) or is a revision of one of the previous site’s files (see update history).