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Guitar and Pen
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A Legal Matter
A Word about Copyrights
History of The Who › 1975-1979
The Movie premiered March 18, 1975. The rock
critics who had championed The Who from the mid 1960's loathed the new
movie version but the public loved it. It was a box-office smash, sent
the soundtrack album higher up the U.S. charts than the original and
made The Who, and especially singer, now actor, Roger, international
the success, Pete was in a state of depression. Reaching the
then-dreaded age of 30, an avant-guardist fully accepted into the
mainstream, head of a band that had turned into a multi-million dollar
enterprise, Pete ached for a new music revolution that would stop the juggernaut. The songs
he wrote for the next album,
The Who By
Numbers, were mostly a savage destruction of himself and the
meaning of the music he had championed.
spilled over into an interview which led to sniping between Pete and
Roger in the press. However, it seemed to clear the air and, starting
October 4, 1975, The Who began a full year of on-and-off touring that
yielded some of the best performances of the band's career. Fans
noticed, however, that very little of the new album was performed with
show after show concentrating mostly on old hits. The touring ended
October 21, 1976 in Toronto. No one could have guessed it would be the
last public concert by the original Who.
While The Who
were away, Pete's long-awaited rock revolution occurred in England. A
new style, punk rock, came into fashion with the rise of The Sex Pistols
and a hundred more bands came in their wake, all with a sound not unlike
that of the early Who. Nevertheless, these bands were dedicated to throwing out all
the old bands of the 1960's, declaring them to be jet-setting,
|Pete ran into
two members of the Sex Pistols after spending a day negotiating the end
of his publishing contracts with his former managers and receiving a big
cheque for his troubles. Convinced that all for which the Who had fought
boiled down to nothing but money, a drunken Pete harangued the Pistols
about how the Who were now washed up and The Pistols had to carry the
banner from here on. From this, a new song emerged, "Who Are You," that
would become the title track for a new album.
regrouped that July, not only to discuss the album, but to film
sequences for a new Who documentary,
The Kids Are
Alright, being shot by American Who fan Jeff Stein. Keith
returned from tax exile in California bloated and sluggish, obviously
deteriorating from his runaway lifestyle.
was staged for the film in Kilburn December 14, 1977 that was so poor it
could not be used. Pete threatened Keith that if he did not clean up and
improve, he would be out of the band. A chastened Keith promised to try.
A better take of the concert was shot at Shepperton Studios in London
May 25, 1978. It would be the last performance anywhere by The Who with
The new album,
Who Are You,
came out August 18 and was a hit despite an elaborate style far removed
from the spare sounds of punk rock. Luck, however, ran out for the band
when Keith Moon died September 7, the cause an overdose of Hemineverin,
a medicine prescribed to treat his addictions.
Twenty-four hours after Keith's death, Pete announced that he and the
other members of the band had decided to continue with a new drummer.
|Kenney Jones won the coveted
seat. A former member of The Small Faces and The Faces and a bona fide
Mod, he had the history to connect with the band on top of his
successful audition during the recording of the Tommy soundtrack.
|Also joining this new Who on
stage was American keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick and a brass
section, all included not just to recreate more of The Who's extensive
catalog live, but also to reduce the band's volume level that was
irritating Pete's tinnitus from which he'd suffered for the last few
|Ecstatic notices from fans and
most critics greeted the new Who at their first performance at the Rainbow
Theatre, London May 2. Shortly afterwards The Who premiered two new
movies at the Cannes Film Festival,
The Kids Are
Alright and a dramatization of Quadrophenia.
Neither film did well at the box office but garnered good reviews and
the latter became a cult movie thanks to a revival of Mod in England.
A five-night stand at Madison Square Garden in
September led to a triumphant North American tour starting November 30.
However, bad luck struck again December 3 when a crowd shoving into
Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati crushed and suffocated those near the
two doors that were open. Eleven fans died and many more were left
injured. The Who were not told until after the show and, despite being
in shock, the band decided to go on with the tour.