Quadrophenia, Tommy film and The Who by Numbers

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By King Biscuit Flower Hour (Billboard, page 21, 26 December 1974) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 
 
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Posted on Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:38am
by Angie Spray

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After touring Who's Next, and needing time to write a follow-up, Townshend insisted that the Who take a lengthy break, as they had not stopped touring since the band started. There was no group activity until May 1972, when they started working on a proposed new album, Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock!, but, unhappy with the recordings, abandoned the sessions. Tensions began to emerged as Townshend believed Daltrey just wanted a money-making band and Daltrey thought Townshend's projects were getting pretentious. Moon's behaviour was becoming increasingly destructive and problematic through excessive drinking and drugs use, and a desire to party and tour. Daltrey performed an audit of the group's finances and discovered that Lambert and Stamp had not kept sufficient records. He believed them to be no longer effective managers, which Townshend and Moon disputed. Following a short European tour, the remainder of 1972 was spent working on an orchestral version of Tommy with Lou Reizner.

By 1973, the Who turned to recording the album Quadrophenia about mod and its subculture, set against clashes with Rockers in early 1960s Britain. The story is about a boy named Jimmy, who undergoes a personality crisis, and his relationship with his family, friends and mod culture. The music features four themes, reflecting the four personalities of the Who. Townshend played multi-tracked synthesizers, and Entwistle played several overdubbed horn parts. By the time the album was being recorded, relationships between the band and Lambert and Stamp had broken down irreparably, and Bill Curbishley replaced them. The album was the Who's highest charting, peaking at No. 2 in both the UK and US.

The Quadrophenia tour started in Stoke on Trent in October and was immediately beset with problems. Daltrey resisted Townshend's wish to add Joe Cocker's keyboardist Chris Stainton (who played on the album) to the touring band. As a compromise, Townshend assembled the keyboard and synthesizer parts on backing tapes, as such a strategy had been successful with "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again". Unfortunately, the technology was not sophisticated enough to deal with the demands of the music, and Daltrey knocked out Townshend in an argument during. At a gig in Newcastle, the tapes completely malfunctioned, and an enraged Townshend dragged sound-man Bob Pridden on-stage, screamed at him, kicked all the amps over and partially destroyed the backing tapes. The show was abandoned for an "oldies" set, at the end of which Townshend smashed his guitar and Moon kicked over his drumkit. The Independent described this gig as one of the worst of all time. The US tour started on 20 November at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California; Moon passed out during "Won't Get Fooled Again" and during "Magic Bus". Townshend asked the audience, "Can anyone play the drums?—I mean somebody good." An audience member, Scot Halpin, filled in for the rest of the show. After a show in Montreal, the band (except for Daltrey, who retired to bed early) caused so much damage to their hotel room, including destroying an antique painting and ramming a marble table through a wall, that federal law enforcement arrested them.

By 1974, work had begun in earnest on a Tommy film. Stigwood suggested Ken Russell as director, whose previous work Townshend had admired. The film featured a star-studded cast, including the band members. David Essex auditioned for the title role, but the band persuaded Daltrey to take it. The cast included Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John and Jack Nicholson. Townshend and Entwistle worked on the soundtrack for most of the year, handling the bulk of the instrumentation. Moon had moved to Los Angeles, so they used session drummers, including Kenney Jones. Elton John used his own band for "Pinball Wizard". Filming was from April until August. 1500 extras appeared in the "Pinball Wizard" sequence.

The film premièred on 18 March 1975 to a standing ovation. Townshend was nominated for an Oscar scoring and adapting the music. Tommy was shown at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, but not in the main competition. It won the award for Rock Movie of the Year in the First Annual Rock Music Awards and generated over $2M in its first month. The soundtrack reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts.

Work on Tommy took up most of 1974, and live performances by the Who were restricted to a show in May at the Valley, the home of Charlton Athletic, in front of 80,000 fans, and a few dates at Madison Square Garden in June. Towards the end of the year, the group released the out-takes album Odds & Sods, which featured several songs from the aborted Lifehouse project.

 

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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/