A friend of mine from high school mentioned on Facebook that he finally got his wish to see The Who this past weekend. As long as I’ve known him, he’s been a fan; he and I used to get together and jam on “Pinball Wizard,” more often not resulting in me breaking a string, usually the first string, which I learned later is not really necessary to play this tune. (Another song we used to do was “Question” by the Moody Blues, another one that’s fatal to guitar strings.) He told me that they played “Pinball Wizard” in the show, and that Pete Townshend didn’t break any strings.
The Who were a notorious bunch, best known for destroying their instruments on stage at the end of shows and destroying hotel rooms after shows. In 1979, a concert of theirs in Cincinnati, Ohio featured “festival seating,” meaning there were no assigned seats, and whoever got in first got the best seats. This led to a minor stampede in which eleven were killed and twenty-six injured. Keith Moon, the band’s original drummer, died of an overdose of an anti-alcohol withdrawal drug in 1978; in June 2002, original bassist John Entwhistle was found dead in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, the victim of a heart attack in which cocaine was a contributing factor. Pete Townshend was cautioned as part of Operation Ore, an anti-child pornography police operation. (He had registered with a CP website for “research purposes,” but was never found in possession of any materials, and there was no indication that he was involved in any illegal activity. Nevertheless, they told him that the research defense wasn’t a very good one.)
All that aside, they were an inventive bunch: Tommy, the first “rock opera” (from which our first selection, the aforementioned “Pinball Wizard,” is taken) was released in the late Sixties and was made into a movie starring singer Roger Daltrey and Ann-Margret, among others), was released in 1969. In 1971, the band began recording another rock opera, Lifehouse; the bulk of that material instead became Who’s Next, from which our second selection, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” was taken. In all, the band released eleven studio albums, the most recent being 2006’s Endless Wire. The two surviving members of the band (Townshend and Daltrey) continue to tour as The Who, backed by a band that includes Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son, on the drums. Three of their songs (“Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Baba O’Riley”) have been used as the theme music for TV’s CSI: franchise.
The Who: your Two for Tuesday, February 5, 2013.