In the CD set notes, The Who, thirty years of R&B maximumtheir author (and The Who’s most fired PR executive), says Keith Altham
It is impossible to tell anyone who has never seen The Who on stage how such totally opposite, combative, quarrelsome, confrontational, brawling and individually brilliant young musicians could blend into such perfect gestalt wit and music whose power, rage and compassion were both anguish and pure unadulterated delight.
The loud and ritually destructive British band descended on the United States in 1967, which included appearances at famous venues, a row with Jimi Hendrix, notorious parties and, of course, smashing their stage gear. The band’s bassist John Entwistle later remarked of one such trip that they “played 30 gigs and made £40,000 – and I still had to borrow $100 to get home “.
Their final antics weren’t just about letting off steam, but making an artistic statement. Pete Townshend said, “We don’t allow our instruments to stop us from doing what we want. We break our instruments, tear our clothes and ransack everything. The expense does not worry us because it would harm our music. If I stood on stage worrying about the price of a guitar, then I’m not really making music. I involve myself in material values.
The birth of The Who took place in the mod culture of the early 60s in Britain, a provocative and revolutionary movement of the working class, with young people Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Pete Townshend playing in a group called The Detours in London pubs and clubs five nights a week. – while continuing to work or go to university during the day.
They were invited to be regulars on Friday nights at the Goldhawk Road Social Club, in the shadow of West London’s notorious prison, Wormwood Scrubs, where they found and absorbed Mod culture, including R&B music. and Motown, fashion, drugs and grit. movement rebellion.
Name change and US debut
Their eventual name change from The Detours to The Who was very meta. Irish Jack, an early friend of Townshend and an inspiration to the band, said: “…no one liked [the name “The Who”] …at the end of the first week, no one could think of anything more appropriate. It was anonymous – it was like a self-destructing pyramid. You said it and the other person said it in question: “The Who, mate.” ‘WHO?’ “Yes, you c——t, – the Who.”
Their fame spread from there. They were an energetic, dangerous, inventive and experimental pop-art group. They had the wind in their sails in Great Britain, all that remained to ensure their success was to make themselves known in America.
Their first visit to the United States in 1967 was at the invitation of Murray the K, to a nine-day concert series in Brooklyn, entitled “Murray The K’s Music in the Fifth Dimension”, featuring artists such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Wilson Pickett, Mitch Ryder, The Blues Project, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Young Rascals, among others.
Later they performed at San Francisco’s Filmore, and later again with Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. In addition to these West Coast gigs, they supported Herman’s Hermits in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Their single “Happy Jack” had reached No. 24 and “I Can See For Miles” was released on September 18, hitting No. 9 on the US charts on November 25. Their robust entry into the United States belied their tumultuous and tenuous beginnings. entertainment career. So it’s not really a surprise that this emblematic group of the 60s was asked to play in famous venues.
Behind the scenes it is clearly very chaotic and, along with the musical bustle, full of noise and loud jostling before the performance.
Small parallel concert in New Jersey … and rediscovery of the ROADSHOW
What might come as a surprise is that in November of that year, they were booked to perform at a private Catholic high school in New Jersey. Amid the social changes and early economic turmoil that marked the late 1960s, this little-known parochial school made the brave – or maybe just risky – decision to hold rock concerts to raise funds. The Who was apparently one of the first such attempts and attracted 2,200 people paying $2.50 a ticket. (The school also staged Cream and Black Sabbath afterwards.)
If the way in which this event unfolded could make some meaning in 1967, ROADSHOW producers and reviewers rejoiced at its recent rediscovery. During our August 2021 production in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, our guest Todd brought some slightly faded photos, reminiscent of anyone’s family snaps from that era.
Except these were from backstage with members of The Who from their very early days. James Supp, one of our collectibles appraisers, was looking forward to seeing them in person to learn more and give Todd his appraisal ($3000-$5000 insurance).
Todd said his mother, Joan Hadley, grew up in the 1950s and 60s and was president of many high school band fan clubs, including for the Hollies and Dave Clark Five. As a freshman at Union County College, she had heard about The Who and the fact that they were coming to perform at Union High School, where she had just graduated. Perhaps because she worked for the college newspaper – and because there was no one else to cover the gig – she got backstage access to The Who concert that night, chatted with the band members and took photos for his article. She also recorded part of his conversation on tape.
Several years later, Todd found a photo album containing photos his mother had taken of the various bands she had seen over the years, including those from his backstage visit with The Who. ROADSHOW didn’t have time to prep a snippet of Joan’s recording with the band before our broadcast, so with Joan’s permission, we’re happy to be able to share this clip of what she recorded tonight now. -the.
It’s clearly very chaotic and, along with the musical bustle, full of noise and loud jostling before the performance. Joan was about the same age as the band and you’ll hear she’s a bit nervous. The group is warm and funny. Roger Daltrey, the leader, is the voice you hear the most, but you’ll hear the whole band and you can… guess who’s who.
LISTEN: Joan interviews The Who
The mother of recent ROADSHOW guest Joan Hadley interviewed members of The Who before a small gig in 1967 at her old New Jersey high school while working as a college reporter. She took snapshots and also managed to record a few of her backstage banter with the band.
With the permission of the family, we invite you to listen to it here.