Early career

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Posted on Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:09am
by Angie Spray

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By the time the Detours had become the Who, they had already found regular gigs, including at the Oldfield Hotel in Greenford, the White Hart Hotel in Acton, the Goldhawk Social Club in Shepherd's Bush, and the Notre Dame Hall in Leicester Square. They had also replaced Druce as manager with Helmut Gorden, with whom they secured an audition with Chris Parmeinter for Fontana Records. Parmeinter found problems with the drumming and, according to Sandom, Townshend immediately turned on him and threatened to fire him if his playing did not immediately improve. Sandom left in disgust, but was persuaded to lend his kit to any potential stand-ins or replacements. Sandom and Townshend did not speak to each other again for 14 years.

During a gig with a stand-in drummer in late April at the Oldfield, the band first met Keith Moon. Moon grew up in Wembley, and had been drumming in bands since 1961. He was performing with a semi-professional band called the Beachcombers, and wanted to play full-time. Moon played a few songs with the group, breaking a bass drum pedal and tearing a drum skin. The band were impressed with his energy and enthusiasm, and offered him the job. Moon performed with the Beachcombers a few more times, but dates clashed and he chose to devote himself to the Who. The Beachcombers auditioned Sandom, but were unimpressed and did not ask him to join.

The Who changed managers to Peter Meaden. He decided that the group would be ideal to represent the growing mod movement in Britain which involved fashion, scooters and music genres such as rhythm and blues, soul and beat. He renamed the group the High Numbers, dressed them up in mod clothes, secured a second, more favourable audition with Fontana and wrote the lyrics for both sides of their single "Zoot Suit"/"I'm the Face" to appeal to mods. The tune for "Zoot Suit" was "Misery" by the Dynamics, and "I'm the Face" borrowed from Slim Harpo's "I Got Love If You Want It". Although Meaden tried to promote the single, it failed to reach the top 50 and the band reverted to calling themselves the Who. The group began to improve their stage image; Daltrey started using his microphone cable as a whip on stage, and occasionally leapt into the crowd; Moon threw drumsticks into the air mid-beat; Townshend mimed machine guning the crowd with his guitar while jumping on stage and playing guitar with a fast arm-windmilling motion, or stood with his arms aloft allowing his guitar to produce feedback in a posture dubbed "the Bird Man".

Meaden was replaced as manager by two filmmakers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. They were looking for a young, unsigned rock group that they could make a film about, and had seen the band at the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone, which had become a regular venue for them. Lambert related to Townshend and his art school background, and encouraged him to write songs. In August, Lambert and Stamp made a promotional film featuring the group and their audience at the Railway. The band changed their set towards soul, rhythm and blues and Motown covers, and created the slogan "Maximum R&B".

In June 1964, during a performance at the Railway, Townshend accidentally broke the head of his guitar on the low ceiling of the stage. Angered by the audience's laughter, he smashed the instrument on the stage, then picked up another guitar and continued the show. The following week, the audience were keen to see a repeat of the event. Moon obliged by kicking his drum kit over, and auto-destructive art became a feature of the Who's live set.

 

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The Who - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Who http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/