The Who by Numbers is the seventh studio album by the English rock band The Who, released on 3 October 1975 in the United Kingdom through Polydor Records, and on 6 October 1975 in the United States by MCA Records. It was named the tenth-best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.
Pete Townshend has claimed that the band recorded practically every song he had written for The Who by Numbers, partially due to a writer’s block that he was experiencing at the time. The songs on the album were, for the most part, more introspective and personal than many other songs that the band had released. Townshend had his 30th birthday in May 1975 and was struggling with the idea of being too old to play rock-and-roll and that the band were losing their relevance. He began to feel disenchanted with the music industry, a feeling that he carried into his songs. He said of the songs on the album:
[The songs] were written with me stoned out of my brain in my living room, crying my eyes out… detached from my own work and from the whole project… I felt empty.
After concluding the album tour for Quadrophenia in June 1974, The Who took an extended hiatus and did not perform live for more than a year. John Entwistle kept himself occupied by playing solo gigs. In addition, the band spent this time filming a movie based on the Tommy rock opera.