The Who, along with the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and the Kinks were among the Brits most responsible for inventing modern rock and roll. After releasing a number of high-charting hits in the mid-60s, they released Tommy in 1969, one of the first concept albums. It is regarded as the beginning of the rock opera. Despite the deaths of two of its original members, The Who remained an important part of rock and roll history, based on their contributions, both musical and intellectual. They also took rock merchandising beyond the rock t-shirt and were among the first to supplement their earnings from recording and touring. Pete Townsend, the band's lead songwriter parlayed his reputation into a successful literary career. For three decades, he has written highly regarded newspaper and magazine articles, essays, scripts, book reviews, short stories, and books.