In just over two weeks The Who embark on the UK and European leg of their 'Quadrophenia and More' tour. The tour kicks off in Dublin on June 8 and runs for exactly a month, finishing back on Keith Moon's home turf of Wembley on July 8. Some tickets are still available for some venues (click here for list of dates) but some are now completely sold out.
The upcoming shows made me think back to the 1996/97 'Quadrophenia' tour as it took place around the time Naked Eye first started. In issue 1 of Naked Eye, which was published in February 1996, there was a long and exclusive interview with Pete Townshend, which I did at the North Acton rehearsal rooms for the West End production of 'Tommy'. The interview yesterday with Pete and 91.7 Giant made me smile as that was also done in similar circumstances with people singing in the background. Anyway, during the 1996 interview Pete spoke of his plans to do something later in the year with 'Quadrophenia', although he didn't give any indication that the plans involved The Who. By the time Issue 2 of Naked Eye was published in June 1996 the band had announced that they would be performing the piece for the Prince's Trust in Hyde Park and I cheekily referred to the line up as including 'the artists formally known as The Who'.
The press conference was held at The Dorchester Hotel on April 23 1996 and I was lucky enough to get invited, take a few shots of Pete and Roger and record the whole thing to transcribe for Issue 2. 150,000 tickets for the Hyde Park show sold out within days and on the day on the press conference we mailed Naked Eye members and secured tickets for the show for anyone who had failed using the traditional methods.
When Issue 3 of the magazine came out in September 1996 the band had also performed the show six times at Madison Square Garden. Although I'd been told about these shows when Issue 2 had been published I was asked not to mention it then as negotiations were still a bit delicate. The fact that the shows took place really did surprise a lot of fans but after those we were left with the spectre of once again not seeing any more Who (or TED) shows.
Of course that wasn't the case at all and by the time Issue 4 of Naked Eye was published in January 1997 The Who, as they were once again called, had played a 25 date US tour and three nights in the UK. I was lucky enough to go to the opening two shows on the US tour in Portland and Tacoma with my partner in crime Ross Halfin and the three UK shows (two at Earl's Court - complete with Pie and Mash backstage -and one in Manchester) and wrote about the tour in that issue of NE. I've scanned that and you can read it as a Word or pdf doc. I remember the journey from Portland to Tacoma as being particularly hairy. We had booked to fly on the same plane as the band and I remember telling this to John after the Portland show. 'Good luck', he replied 'because we're not flying in one those crap planes!'.. When me and Ross got on the plane we could see why, it was an old four prop plane that had trouble getting above the cloud cover and was very shaky. It was a definite white knuckle ride.
The following year the band spent much of the time on the road performing 'Quadrophenia' in Europe and North America. I managed to see the show in Stockholm, Wembley and Washington, where me and Halfin had another scary moment, this time at the hands of Henry Kissinger's security team!
I have some great memories of the 96/97 'Quadrophenia' tours and and I'm sure anyone going to the upcoming shows is full of excitement at seeing them. I'm sure you will not be disappointed.
New Pete video interview
91.7 Giant FM in Canada have posted a new video interview with Pete talking about the new 'Tommy' production.
Thank Your Lucky Stars
On May 23 1965 The Who made their only appearance on ABC (UK) TV's hit show 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'. The show was recorded before a live audience and broadcast the following week on May 29. The Who performed (mimed) to their second single 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' which had been released two days earlier.
'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' went on to reach No 10 in the British UK charts.
Get Your Tommy T-Shirts....
No, it's OK I haven't gone into T-Shirt flogging! On May 23 1974, the day after their show for the students at Portsmouth Keith Moon was back on the 'Tommy' movie set to film the 'Holiday Camp' sequence. Filming took place at Fort Purbrook in Portsmouth and Keith obviously had great fun sitting atop his large organ!!!!
The following year to the day 'Tommy' was shown as the closing film at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and Keith flew in to take part in the festivities.
A private thank you
On May 22 1974 The Who played a concert for the students from Portsmouth Polytechnic who had appeared as extras in the 'Tommy' movie. The show was at the Guildhall in Portsmouth, a venue the band returned to in 2002 for a couple of warm up shows. The audience of 1500 saw the band perform a full set, at a gig that Pete Townshend considered one of the best The Who had ever played.
Roger Daltrey talks to Fox News about Teen Cancer America
Roger has sat down to talk to Dr. Manny from Fox News to talk about the Teen Cancer America initiative. You can watch the video on the Yahoo website.
Roger on the History Channel in the US
The New York Post reports that Roger will be appearing in a programme about the 'Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp' on the History Channel on May 30 at 9pm EST. The article states that "'Pawn Stars' honcho Rick Harrison...jams with Roger Daltrey." More news when I get it.
Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock / Quadrophenia
On May 21 1973 the recording sessions for 'Quadrophenia' began at Ramport Studios in Battersea. The sessions began almost a year to the day (May 19 1972) after The Who entered Olympic Sound Studios to begin work on Quadrophenia''s predecessor, which had the working title 'Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock'. Pete produced a number of demos for the album, which was to look back at the band's history, and among the tracks the band recorded over the next couple of weeks were 'Join Together', 'Relay', 'Long Live Rock' and 'Put The Money Down'. The project though was shelved quite quickly and a couple of the tracks above were released as singles whilst the band tried to look for a new outlet. This would turn into 'Quadrophenia' the following year. A couple of the tracks Pete had written for the 'Rock Is Dead' album -'Is It In My Head?' and 'Love Reign O'er Me' -were carried over to 'Quadrophenia'.
'Voice Of The Enigma'
A new documentary on American guitarist Robbie Basho, which is currently the subject of a kickstarter project, has announced that Pete Townshend has been confirmed as an interviewee for the film. The feature length movie 'Voice Of the Enigma: The Enigma of Robbie Basho' looks at the life of Basho, who was diagnosed with synaesthesia, which caused him to interpret sound as colour and who died at the young age of 45.
Roger makes an appearance at the Guitar Center to talk to Dan Rather
Roger appeared with teen heart throb Cody Simpson at the Guitar Center in New York on May 17. He was interviewed with Simpson by Dan Rather. There's a photo of the two stars together here. Dan Rather posted the following on his Facebook page:
" Met and talked for quite a while yesterday with the legendary, iconic Roger Daltrey...about "The Who," about staying power in the music business - especially in rock & roll, about life and our times. One of the more interesting conversations I've had in a long while. Singing and music are still his passions, but he's also passionate now about his longtime work with and for teenagers with cancer. He's bringing the Teenage Cancer Trust he helped build in Britain to the USA, under the name Teen Cancer America.
He introduced me to his young friend Cody Simpson, a 16-year-old rising singing sensation from Australia. Cody is helping with Teen Cancer America. Got to eavesdrop on Roger's advice to Cody about how best to handle his growing popularity and keep his career moving upward and onward."
Quadrophenia in Manchester
A week ago I mentioned that a special one night only performance of 'Quadrophenia' was being performed at the Palace Theatre in Manchester on July 14. Ticket details have now been released and they range from £16.00 - 26.00. It's all for a good cause as proceeds support the charitable work of NK Theatre Arts. You can buy tickets here.
Happy birthday Pete
Many happy returns of the day go to Pete Townshend. Not sure if Pete is still in Canada for this birthday this year but he did spend it in Toronto forty four years ago where The Who were performing at the Rock Pile Club.
The band played two shows that night at 8.00pm and 11.00pm and the show was part of the first North American 'Tommy' tour. 'Tommy' had been issued by Decca in the US on May 17 and most of the audience probably hadn't heard the songs by then. It must have been a great experience.
It seems apt that Pete Townshend would have been performing 'Tommy' on his birthday. The day before the Toronto shows (when The Who were busy finishing off a three night stand at the Fillmore East) the New York Times reviewed the album and stated "This might just be the first pop masterpiece...'Tommy' is just possibly the most important work that anyone has yet done in rock."
What a way to spend your 24th birthday.
'Summer of 74'
Today marks the thirty ninth anniversary of the legendary Who Concert at Charlton Athletic football ground. The show is legendary for many reasons, some good, some not so.
The original intention was for the band to play a series of outdoor shows in the UK. However it seems only a second similar concert got past the planning stage and that was due for the following Saturday in Glasgow. This too failed to materialise because the venue management at Shawfield Stadium wanted to assess the show at Charlton before agreeing to put on the show there. As a result the promoter was unable to secure the proper licence in time.
The Charlton show was advertised in April with tickets set at £2.50 in advance and £2.80 on the day, although later advertising said it would be advanced ticket sales only. This, however, was plainly not the case on the day. The Who were strongly involved in choosing the venue and promoter Michael Alfandary was quoted as saying that the venue was chosen because the 'seating arrangements' would mean that nobody would be more than 100 yards from the stage. Pete had commented on how suitable the venue was because of its layout and Roger had said that this would be the first of a series of shows that would bring back the 'rock spectacle'
An initial line up was announced which included Humble Pie, Bad Company, Lou Reed (with his new band) and jolly singalong band Lindisfarne. Traffic's Dave Mason was added to the bill but withdrew and then The Sweet, who I was dying to see perform live, were added but they also withdrew. The reason being, I seem to recall, was because their singer Brian Connelly was the victim of a vicious attack. In the end Maggie Bell and Montrose were added to complete the bill.
The show attracted a lot of interest from around the world. It was written up as the most important festival since Woodstock or the Isle of Wight. No pressure from the press then! At one stage there was talk of it going on a worldwide tour with Track Records seriously considering that option. In the end though no further gigs were announced and it just boiled down to one seriously hot day.
It was stated that the attendance would be limited to 50,000 and some estimates afterwards said that at least a further 25,000 people got in. As you can see from my ticket above, which is numbered 103280, it's unlikely that 50,000 was ever the intention. This led to some serious overcrowding inside the venue, which in turn led to the occasional violent outburst. The atmosphere all day was tense it has to be said, not helped by the fact that most of the concert goers that had brought alcohol had to either leave it outside or consume it before they went in, which seemed to be the choice of the majority. I remember us having a nice bottle of gin and tonic mixed in a lemonade bottle that made it past security.
The show itself was instantly forgettable other than The Who. The support acts came and went. I remember Bad Company being OK but wondered why they just didn't call themselves Free. Maggie Bell was dreadful as was Lou Reed who seemed out of it with his blonde skinhead hair and, if I remember correctly, a Swastika on his forehead. Not an act that would endear him in South London. Much of the day was taken up watching idiots climb the floodlights and wondering which ones would fall first. Someone told me, may have been Ross Halfin, that Humble Pie were good that day but I didn't care for them. In between acts there was the tedium of not being able to move, to get food, to use the loos, or even just to stretch out. I remember ignoring my mum's advice of not taking sweets from strangers and accepting some Lemon Drops from a cosy neighbour. You'll be pleased to know (as was I) that they were just Lemon Drops! The Who were due on around 8pm and there was about a 30 minute wait between acts. That was, of course, until The Who. The show was being filmed by the BBC and they had to move in all their equipment and get the stage set up right. After what seemed like hours after the previous act (in fact it was about 75 minutes) the band bounded onto the stage at 8.45pm.
Most of you have probably seen the show in its entirety or at least seen the BBC's version (which if you haven't, the full 'Second House' show can be seen on youtube) that was broadcast a few months later (and of course the footage of Keith singing 'Bell Boy' is still being used) so I won't bore you with details of the set list but it was just so damned exciting seeing the band back on stage again. Pete commented that the last time he had seen a crowd like it was at Woodstock and it made us feel that were were actually at an important event. Whether we were or not remains to be seen. In the end it was a huge success although the music press seemed split as to whether it was the spectacle that was promised. The article on the right talks of good vibes, whilst others mentioned the trouble. What they all agreed on though was that The Who were triumphant. What was evident though was that it began a period of self examination for Pete and his role in the band. What was and is also evident is the ability of The Who to lift an audience to a higher level even when the surroundings are less than perfect. I doubt any other band could do that. Pete remembers the show in his autobiography 'Who I Am', "The Charlton show was scheduled between the movie work I was still catching up on...It was also the day before my twenty-ninth birthday. I wasn't just drunk by the time of the concert - I was smashed. Fortunately, it went off OK."
I went to the show with my brother and his girlfriend and Pat was kind enough to write down some of his memories of the day.
"God it was hot that day.
I had seen the WHO at the Oval a few years prior to that and it was such a great atmosphere, not the hottest of days but what a great atmosphere it had, plenty of laughs and good humour amongst the crowd. Charlton '74 seemed to be edgy from the word go, I remember the queueing and shoving outside, my then girlfriend wasn't that tall and I know she felt a little hemmed in while we waited for the gates to open.
Compared to the Oval gig, the organisation seemed a little ramshackle, there we walked in casually, no searches that I could recall, we took our own food and drink in and not a question asked, here the queues were building up and tempers starting to fray as security guards searched bags and made people dispose of, or pour away their drinks. Of course most opted to drink what they had brought with them on the spot. This probably resulted in more drunks earlier in the day and greater scope for trouble.
The crap organisation also allowed the ground to become flooded with people, the place was packed solid and the lack of sitting space again frayed some peoples tempers. We saw a fair bit of anger and violence that day, nothing like the fun that was The Oval. Maybe the venues brought out the symptomatic perception of football fan vs cricket fan.
It was a hot day, I think it was said to be the hottest day that year, we were lucky enough to pitch up somewhere around the halfway line just to the centre of the stage and despite being cramped had a pretty good view and we just settled down.
As with most one-day gigs the support acts were pretty much always just fillers for the headliners, no matter how good they were. I remember my girlfriend's relief as The WHO hit the stage and the crowd pushed forward freeing up some space around us so she could see. Well, she could when she was sitting on my shoulders.
I enjoy and follow many other bands, but The WHO will always be the greatest Rock and Roll band I have ever seen, and the Charlton '74 show was one of those gigs that reinforced that view for me. I feel lucky to have seen the band with Moon and Entwistle and all four at their most forceful peak.
After the gig we had to walk all the way home due to the crap transport that existed in London then. At the grand old age of 18 I think I said that was my lot, I'm too old for all this malarkey, it couldn't have put me off because two years later I was back at The Valley watching the band again, although the weather then was slightly less sunny."
Photographer Ross Halfin sent me the following:
"My memory is of it being one of the hottest days of the year it was 94F. I remember this because the Capital DJ told us just before Montrose played at 11.30 am. I enjoyed them, they played the whole of their first album. Lindisfarne played early (As Bad Company were purposely late) and were boring - Bad Company next again playing the whole of their first LP then my memory goes to the Who.
I liked them even though it was oversold and you couldn't move, watching the TV footage I realise now - which of course I didn't at the time - that Pete was drunk. If you watch the footage you can see him start to get angry with his mic stand. Great set list and it would be nice if the BBC put it out uncut.
Also there was no amazing view and no toilets or anything to drink and being in South London and a Who crowd it was full of fights and people looking for a fight, which might explain why the Who embraced the American audiences."
My friend Dermot also sent a couple of short memories.
"The two things I mainly remember about Charlton are;
1 - The tension in the air, as if it was all about to kick off which, of course, it intermittently did. That gave it a bit of an edge!
2 - At the other end of the spectrum, Wiggy's lasers criss crossing across the sky. Absolutely stunning. They almost looked like a roof over the stadium."
Thanks to Pat, Ross and Dermot for taking the time to write.
Pinballpalooza breaks world record
The Tommy inspired 'Pinballpalooza' event took place in Toronto yesterday and broke the Guinness world record for the number of simultaneous games played. Looking at the video on youtube, linked to below, it looks like most of the machines were Metallica inspired rather than Tommy but it seems to have been a very popular event and great promotion for the current 'Tommy' production at the Stratford festival, which is previewing at present. As reported yesterday Pete visited the cast during one of these previews. The opening night is on May 30th.
On May 17 1974 the Tommy movie was finishing its third week of filming with the 'Sally Simpson' scene. You would have thought that all this work would have been enough for any band, but not The Who. On top of this project they were also preparing for one of the biggest concerts I have ever attended at the Charlton Athletic ground in South London...the following day! Can you imagine that happening today? I have written about the 'Summer of 74' a few times but will write some more of my memories tomorrow - if anyone wants to add their own recollections please get in touch. I would guess that this time thirty nine years ago I was as excited as a kid in a sweet shop!
The band of course returned to the same venue two years later, at the end of May.
Pete visits Tommy in StratfordPete Townshend has visited the cast of Tommy at the 20th anniversary show in Stratford (see May 7 entry for more details). The Stratford Festival facebook page carries a photo of Pete's visit.
Roger on The Howard Stern Show
Roger appeared on The Howard Stern radio show yesterday and some video has been posted on Stern's youtube channel which you can see below.
Keith Moon joins a supergroup
On May 16 1966 Keith Moon entered IBC Studios in London to record a couple of tracks with Jeff Beck...and Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Nicky Hopkins. The two day sessions came at a time of uncertainty for the band (you'll read other posts on NE about the May 66 'troubles'). One track 'Beck's Bolero' was released as a follow up single to 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'. Pete Townshend saw the move by Keith as being more than helping out a few mates in the studio. He told Zigzag "The thing is that when Keith did Beck's 'Bolero' that wasn't just a session, that was a political move. It was at a point when the group was very close to breaking up. Keith was very paranoid and going through a heavy pills thing. He wanted to make the group plead for him because he'd joined Beck."
Here is 'Beck's Bolero' posted on youtube by 'wilson mcphert'.
The greatest live rock album ever...
...The Who 'Live at Leeds' was released today in the US on Decca Records (it would be released in the UK on Track records a week later). The album reached No 4 in the US and No 3 in the UK and remains today the best live rock 'n' roll album ever released and one that proves that The Who were unsurpassable as a live band.
According to The Who's Twitter account Zak is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the US.
Ludwig announce Scott Devours to drum with The Who
Ludwig drums announced on their Facebook page that Scott Devours and not Zak will be on the next UK tour. Their statement reads "This just in: Ludwig artist Scott Devours will be drumming for The Who on their upcoming UK tour. Congratulations Scott, from the whole Ludwig family."
It seems a strange way to announce it I must say. No official word from the Who camp yet on whether this is a temporary or permanent thing, or even if it's true at all! If I hear any more I'll post it as soon as I can. In the meantime here's Ringo talking to the Hard Rock about Zak being in The Who.
The Boston Tea Party
Last November I wrote about the band's much bootlegged appearance at the Boston Tea Party on November 11 and 12 1969. The Who also appeared at the venue in Berkeley Street six months earlier where they continued their inaugural 'Tommy' tour of the US. This was the second US city in which the band presented the new stage show, the first being Detroit, where they played three nights at the Grande Ballroom (see May 2 story).
As you can see from the calendar above the band played three nights in Boston starting on May 13 and they were supported supported by jazz instrumentalist Roland Kirk (who I first heard of when Jethro Tull covered his 'Serenade To A Cuckoo' on their debut album). The line up for that month's events at the venue is quite special, with shows from Led Zeppelin and Jeff Beck, who shared the bill with The Nice. The Who's stint there was followed by Joe Cocker, who coincidentally I was supposed to photograph tonight before I saw the unnecessary photo release contract. It would appear that these shows were the last shows performed at the original venue before it moved to new premises in Lansdowne Street near to Fenway Park. This second Tea Party venue closed its doors in early 1971 and the original building was converted into apartments in 1982. Another legendary venue bites the dust. If anyone was at these shows I'd love to get a review of them.
After the band played in Boston they moved onto New York for three shows at the Fillmore East. I covered these shows and the subsequent Police trouble last year (See May 16 2012 story).
UPDATE. John Visnaskas posted some memories of the Boston shows on the Naked Eye facebook page which he has kindly allowed me to post here:
"I was there. They came running out like the Marx Brothers and Roland Kirk stepped on me while I was snoozing during his set and he was led out into the audience. Pete dedicated the TOMMY performance to him.
It was the "old" Boston Teaparty which was an old synagogue. I was working second shift at a bindery in the Boston suburb of Burlington and pretended I was sick to leave. TOMMY was unknown at the time except for "Pinball Wizard" and everybody there stood in awe. Although we didn't know the songs, we just knew we had just witnessed something incredible. Somehow WBCN-FM in Boston got an advance copy a few days later (perhaps the Brit release?), and started playing it from beginning to end, commercial free.
Needless to say, after that, I rarely missed a New England or New York show. It was a VERY good year with a couple of college gymnasium gigs, Woodstock of course, and a return engagement to the "new" Boston Teaparty in November."
Thanks to John for that. If anyone else has any memories of Who gigs that they'd like to share on NE please let me know.
1979 - The Who return
On May 12 1979 The Who performed the first of two shows in Frejus, Southern France. The shows were planned as the first public performances for The Who after Keith Moon had died and were planned to tie in with the premiere of the 'Kids Are Alright' movie at the nearby Cannes Film Festival.
I remember my own disappointment at the decision to launch the new version of the band in France. I couldn't have afforded to go out there to see the band and felt that London was where it should have happened. However, plans change and The Who did decide instead to launch MK2 of the band in London ten days earlier than planned with a show at The Rainbow in Finsbury Park on May 2. That was MUCH better!
I remember queuing for tickets and seeing lots of parkas and scooters around the venue as the UK was going through a full blown Mod revival at the time. 'Quadrophenia' was back in people's minds, with the band's movie version of it being released a few months later.
There are a number of videos on youtube with audio from the shows (it was well bootlegged) but Brian Cady has posted a video of 'Substitute' from the second night on his youtube channel, which I've linked to below.
'Quadrophenia' in Manchester
Thanks to Cassie Chantrey Hall for posting on the Naked Eye facebook page about an upcoming stage productoin of 'Quadrophenia'. The show takes place at the Manchester Palace Theatre on July 14 and is a charity performance to raise money for the NK Theatre Arts which is based in nearby Stockport. Full details will be available soon.
A look back at 'Daltrey'
Ulimate Classic Rock looks back at the release of Roger Daltrey's debut solo album on their website.
Treasures of the 'Hard Rock' tour
The 'Hard Rock' cafes have an amazing collection of music memorabilia. I sometimes photograph bands in the vault at the London branch and am always thrilled to see the John Entwistle basses and Keith Moon outfits they have down there. The franchise currently has a couple of tours travelling across the States under the titles 'Gone Too Soon' and 'Music Gives Back - Rock 'n' Roll Philanthropy. The first collection is self evident and contains items from musicians who died too early, including Keith Moon, as well as John Lennon, Kurt Cobain and Buddy Holly. The second collection looks at rock's most charitable musicians and includes one of Pete's smashed guitars amongst other items from people such as Elton John and Eric Clapton. Recently in the London branch I did notice that they had quite a few items from the 'Tommy' movie on display
The tour did begin a couple of months ago so apologies for not bringing this news sooner but it continues until the end of November at the following 'Hard Rock' venues. Check with them to see which items they will be carrying.
Seattle: May 13-20
Miami: May 19-27
Hollywood, Fla.: June 3-10
Phoenix: July 16-23
Dallas: July 31-Aug. 8
Houston: Aug. 20-26
San Antonio: Sept. 4-10
Memphis: Sept. 4-10
Myrtle Beach, S.C.: Sept. 16-23
Las Vegas: Sept. 17-25
Nashville: Sept. 30-Oct. 7
Los Angeles: Oct. 2-9
Cleveland: Oct. 22-28
Indianapolis: Nov. 5-13
Orlando: Nov. 18-25
There is also a separate European tour running until the end of December entitled '50 years of Rock & Pop Fashion' but I'm not sure if any Who items are included.
In an interview with The Aquarian Weekly, Joe Walsh has spoken about his influences. Talking about supporting The Who with the James Gang Walsh says "Pete Townshend was my guru, He taught me how to play lead-rhythm guitar, and Keith Moon taught me the finer points of hotel demolition."
Rigor Mortis Sets In
On May 11 1973 John Entwistle released his third solo album 'Rigor Mortis Sets In'. It was released in the US the following month. It included John's excellent rendition of 'Mr Bassman' which I suggested was used over the tribute video to John which was shown at Who gigs in 2002 (it wasn't agreed though).
Last night I photographed Steve Hackett performing early Genesis tracks. Hackett didn't join Genesis until December 1970 but it mademe think about Genesis supporting The Who and found this little ad, which shows they did indeed support them forty three years ago, almost to the day! The show was in Canterbury, Kent on May 8 1970.
With a few weeks to go before the European leg of the 'Quadrophenia and More' tour begins I thought it was time to start looking at the project again to build up to the first show. When the band brought 'Quadrophenia' back to life in 1996 they played six nights at Madison Square Garden. This radio show was produced around those gigs and it's been posted on youtube by 'EuchridEucrow1'. It has some great interview pieces and a nice ad for Pete's 'coolwalking...' solo collection. On May 10 1997 The Who were on tour in Europe performing the show and on this date they were playing in Brussels, Belgium.
It's Not Unusual
Last month I mentioned The Who appearing on the Tom Jones TV show in 1969, playing 'Pinball Wizard'. On May 9, four years earlier, they were supporting Tom at a gig at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester - two gigs in fact, as there were two shows on the same day, the first at 5.40 pm and the second at 8.00pm. Also on the bill was Marianne Faithfull (who had already released her third single) and The Naturals. Above The Who's name it simply stated 'I Can't Explain', even though the single had been released almost four months earlier. The follow up 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' was recorded a month or so before this show and released on May 21 (June 5 in the US). The song reached No 10 in the UK charts.
On May 9 1981 The Who's second single from the album 'Face Dances' was in the charts at No 47. 'Don't Let Go The Coat' had spent four weeks in the charts at that point and fared less well than the initial single from the album 'You Better You Bet', which reached No 9 in the UK charts.
Tommy and Quadrophenia Live on Sky arts Channel today
Sky Arts channel in the UK is today showing an hour long version of the Tommy / Quadrophenia release. The broadcast is on this morning at 11am UK time.
The Lone Ranger
In 1968 Pete Townshend was involved in a film project made by his friend Richard Stanley, with help from Chris Morphet and the recently deceased Storm Thorgerson. The film was called 'The Lone Ranger' and in it Pete played a musician. On this day he was photographed in Oxfordshire as a guitar playing cowboy. He also wrote the score for the film, which he recorded in his Ebury Street flat, playing guitar, bass, drums, organ and vocals. The music is evocative of the time and it fits in nicely with Pete's work during this period. Some of the music has crept out on bootleg, such as the one below, 'The Lone Ranger Street Reduction'.
Following on neatly from yesterday's story about 'Pinballapalooza', on May 8 1974 the 'Pinball Wizard' scene for the 'Tommy' movie began filming. The scene was filmed over three days at the King's Theatre in Portsmouth. During one take Pete Townshend accidently cut an extra's head with his guitar. When she returned from hospital Pete gave her the Les Paul in question!
Later in the month (May 22) The Who returned to Portsmouth to play a show at the Guildhall. It was a special 'thank you' concert for the students of Portsmouth Polytechnic who had appeared as extras in the film.
Des McAnuff talks about the new production of 'Tommy'
Des McAnuff has spoken about the 20th anniversary 'Tommy' production at the Avon Theatre in Ontario as part of the 2013 Stratford Festival. The new production, which reunites many of the crew from the original Broadway show, is currently previewing and opens fully on May 30, running until October 19. You can read the interview with Des on the ottawacitizen website. If you're interested in booking tickets for the show (the first night is sold out), you can do so at the Stratford Festival site.
The festival is also setting up 'Pinballapalooza' on May 16, where one hundred pinball machines will be placed at First Canadian Place in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most pinball games being played at the same time. Around noon members of the show's orchestra will play songs from the production. Sounds like a fun way to spend the day if you're in the area.
We'll be fighting in the streets...
Today's a Bank Holiday in the UK, a day to relax and enjoy Spring, maybe go to the south coast for the day and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. This early May Bank Holiday was only introduced into the UK in the late 1970s. Before that there were only two Bank Holiday weekends around this time, Easter and Whitsun, both of which, in the early sixties, saw different reasons to visit the coastal resorts. Then Bank Holiday trips became synonymous with fighting between Mods and Rockers at various south coast resorts - much to the great joy of the British media.
Probably the most (in)famous 'riots' occurred in 1964, at Clacton during the Easter holiday in late March and Brighton and Margate during the Whitsun holiday over the weekend of May 16 - 18. Brighton was hit hardest (although a few people were stabbed at Margate) and the trouble flared over two days before moving on to nearby Hastings. The now infamous 'sawdust Caesars' description was first used to describe the miscreants during this time. The Brighton riot is the one that is recreated in the film 'Quadrophenia' and although not shown in the film, The Who were present in the town that weekend, playing two gigs at the local Mod stronghold, The Florida Rooms. The band played there on May 16 and 17 (the latter being an all night rave). They also played the same venue during the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
It's funny to think that exactly ten years after those Brighton troubles, May 18 1974, I would be watching The Who play in front of many thousands at the Charlton Athletic football ground in an atmosphere that, at times, seemed similarly threatening (although nowhere near as bad as the 1976 show at the same venue).
The BBC has a great report of Mods preparing for the Whitsun 1964 holiday weekend on their website.
Robert Plant as The Who's singer?
A couple of days ago I wrote about the short period in 1966 when Roger left the band. On May 4 and 5 The Who played shows in Stourbridge and Kidderminister. Robert Plant, a local lad, attended one, possibly both, of these shows and approached the band about the possibility of him becoming the front man. Pete Townshend recalled the event to Musician magazine, "Robert Plant talks about the fact that when he first saw us, I was the singer. He came to see us and offered himself for the job, as did Steve Gibbons when he came to see us...Obviously none of them thought I was any good!"
I was hoping to find a photo I took backstage when Robert was opening for The Who in the States but it's one of those that I don't seem to have a copy of, must be on a hard drive somewhere at Eelpie. It was a photo of Robert leaning over Roger with his hair hanging down over Roger, it is quite a funny shot. I think this one is very good though and works particularly good with this story. I'll put it on this link to zimbio as I do try and respect the copyright of photographers whenever possible and don't believe in just downloading / using photographs without permission as it happens to me quite a bit.
UPDATE: Within minutes of posting the above the wonderful Brian Cady came to my rescue with copies of the shots I was referring to, which he'd obviously rescued from Pete's website. I'm pretty sure the photos were taken backstage at Mansfield on the same day the video of Roger and Robert in the dressing room was shot.
Who Are You
On May 4 1978 The Who recorded a promo for their new single 'Who Are You' at Ramport Studios in Battersea. The film was shot by Jeff Stein, towards the end of his 'Kids Are Alright' filming schedule.
Originally it was intended for the band to mime along to a pre recorded track with Roger providing live vocals but in the end guitar, piano and drum overdubs were added, giving it a different feel. I love this video as it shows the band having great fun in the studio together, particularly during the hand clapping sequence. The single was originally slated for a June release but was eventually released in the UK on July 14 (August 5 in the US), with the album of the same name released the following month.
Just over two weeks later I took my copy of the single along to the opening of the 'Who's Who' exhibition in London (as you do) and had it signed by Pete Townshend and Keith Moon (who also signed the poster seen in our 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' book, which was also subsequently signed by Roger and John). I gave the single away as a present to John from The Beachcombers, who Keith had played drums with. John kindly sent me a scan recently (left). I have very fond memories of that day, it was the first and only time I'd had the chance to say hello to Keith and he treated me as though he had known me forever.
A diificult time
On May 3 1966 The Who were due to play a gig at the Winter Gardens in Malvern. However, only Roger turned up to the show. The rest of the band were unable to get there because of car trouble...or so they said. The gig came at a fractious time in the band's internal relationships. On this occasion Chris Stamp had rang ahead to say that the band were running late because of transport problems but it was nothing more than a cover up. Internal disagreements led the band to the brink of implosion and this came to a head at the Malvern gig. Pete told 'Zig-Zag' that Roger was leaving the group and that he himself had discussed with Kit Lambert the possibility of combining the remaining remnants of The Who with Paddy Chambers, Klaus Voorman and Gibson Kemp, who were managed by Brian Epstein. One can only wonder at how the sound of the band would have differed had that union happened.
The band's non-appearance at Malvern did precipitate Roger's departure...for a whole three days, after which he rejoined the band for their tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland. There were a couple of gigs in between the Malvern no show and their first show in Lisburn, Northern Ireland and the vocals at those shows were shared between Pete and John. Local fans in Malvern didn't take kindly to the band's non-appearance and the local paper reported a 'spate of window smashing by a gang of disgruntled youths' after the show. A make up show was put on in June for disappointed ticket holders. They also returned later in the year and I love the handbill for that show (left) on which the management state "We regret the high admission price but a fab group commands fab fees"! Nothing changes
Later in the month Keith and John talked about quitting the band and all in all May 1966 was a pretty difficult time in the history of The Who.
The headline below comes from a May edition of Record Mirror five years later. Another break up looms and Roger refers to the previous three months as being the closest the band had ever been to finishing. He explained "It's not through lack of interest in the group, it's just a desperation feeling. We're not like the usual group when they break up, with us we break up mentally." You can read the full article on this jpeg.
A strange coincidence
The Express newspaper today carries an interview with Stuart Sharpe, a man whose life shares a few interesting similarities with Pete Townshend's. You can read it on their website.
A Happy Birthday indeed
Forty nine years ago today Keith Moon played his first full gig with The Who. The show was a private gig for a 21st Birthday party and was held in the upstairs room of a pub somewhere on the North Circular Road in London. In our 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' book we use a great quote from John Entwistle about that show, "He put his little blue drum kit up and then got this huge coil of rope and tied it all together. We couldn't understand why until he went into a drum solo and everything started to sway backwards and forwards." I guess that 21 year old will, hopefully, be celebrating her 70th birthday around this time. I'd love to hear from her and find out what she thought about her party!
Got a feeling 69 is going to be a good year
And indeed it was, it was the year that saved The Who. On May 2 1969 The Who (without Pete, who went later) flew to New York in advance of their US tour, where 'Tommy' would be played stateside for the first time. The first show of the tour was in Detroit at the famous Grande Ballroom, which was being managed by Pete's old college buddy Tom Wright. Tom, sensibly, recorded the whole show. The tour and the subsequent shows, including of course the Woodstock performance, would ensure that the band were rightly celebrated as the ultimate rock live act.
Whilst in New York much money was spent at Manny's Music Store in Manhattan. Five years later, to celebrate the band's first ten years together, Manny's showed that they never forgot The Who by taking out this ad in the Village Voice.
An acoustic 'Baba O'Riley'
This month's Guitar World contains an acoustic arrangements of 'Baba O'Riley'. The Guitar World website has a video showing all you budding Pete's just how to do it!
Tommy is born
It's difficult running a website like this not to repeat certain things. But some things are too important not to mention over and over again and this, I think, is one of them. On May 1 1969 The Who presented a one hour performance of 'Tommy' at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London to an invited audience of press and industry types. I wrote about this year on the same date but I thought this link to the Rolling Stone review of the show was interesting reading.
By this date the following year The Who with the aid of 'Tommy' had captivated audiences worldwide and had toured continuously. After taking a couple of months off after the Leeds and Hull recordings they resumed their life on the road with some low key dates (see April 2013 for details) at some UK universities. On May 1 they had weaved their way to the west country where they performed in the Great Hall at Exeter University.