October 19, 2020

1975-03-24 – The Miami News

1975 03 24 The_Miami_News_Mon__Mar_24__1975_

,3 Two boots for The Who
Who cares about this ‘Tommy’ rot?

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By BOB GREENE
Chicano sun-Tlmn Service
CHICAGO —- Why I ain’t seeing
“Tommy”:

l) The first time 1 ever heard The
Who was when I was a junior in
high school, and Jay Maupin and
Pam Finke won the dance contest
in the school lounge. The record
they danced to was “Can’t Ex-
plain,” The Who’s first single. It
was clearly the work of four grun-
gy, primitive street punks. It was
moronic and it was mindless and it
was terrific. It had nothing to do
with taste or art. I loved it.

2) From the Columbia Pictures
press release announcing the movie
“Tommy,” adapted from a “rock
opera" written by The Who:
“ ‘Tommy’ is the greatest work of
art the twentieth century has pro-
duced."

3) What happens to grungy,
primitive street punk rock and rol-
lers department, Part One: Before
the decision was made to put the
movie version of “Tommy” into
production, a New York market re-
search group was hired to test the
prospective acceptability of con-
verting The Who’s “rock opera” to
film.

The company found that in a na-
tional sample, 55 per cent of the re-
spondents had an “awareness” of
what “Tommy" was, and 77 per
cent of the 20-24 year olds had an
“awareness" of it. This “hard core
of early support.” in the words of
the marketing men, was judged op-
timistic enough to go ahead with
the project. Chosen to star in the
movie was . . . uh . . . Ann-Mar-

gret.

4) From the mouth of Ann-Mar-
gret: “They say, ’See me, touch me,
feel me’ in ‘Tommy.’ That’s impor-

tant. So often we go through life
like zombies."

5) The Who’s original recorded
version of “Tommy” was basically
a harmless. piece of fluff anyway. I
much prefer to think of them in
terms of Jay Maupin and Pam
Finke.

6) What happens to grungy,
primitive street punk rock and rol-
lers department, Part Two: 1n the
beginning. much of the. appeal that
The Who had for fans like myself
was the implied kn-, Ledge that

here were four sullen young kids
out to defy the world alone. The
following is a partial list of credits
that are a part of the “Tommy”
press kit: “Columbia Pictures and
Robert Stigwood present a film by
Ken Russell. ‘Tommy’ by The Who.
Starring Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed,
Roger Daltrey as Tommy, and fea-
turing Elton John as the pinball
wizard. Guest artists: Eric Clapton.
John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Paul
Nicholas, Jack Nicholson, Robert
Powell, Pe t e Townshend, Tina
Turner and The Who. Produced by
Robert Stigwood and Ken Russell.
Directed by Ken Russell. Executive
producers, B e r y l Vertue
and Christopher Stamp."

Read on: “Screenplay by Ken '

Russell. Musical director, Pete
Townshend. ‘ Associate Producer,
Harry Benn. Inspired by the rock
opera ‘Tommy’ by Pete Townshend.
Additional material by John Ent-
wistle and Keith Moon. Directors of
photography, Dick Bush, Ronnie
Taylor. Art Director. John Clark.
Sets designed by Paul Dufficey.
Film editor, Stuart Baird. Produc-
tion manager, John Comfort. Cos-
tume designer, Shirley Russell.
Musxc editor, Terry ‘Rawlings.

Music recordist, Ron Nevison. Cam-
era operator, Eddie Collins. Assis-
tant director, Jonathan Benson.
Continuity. Kay Mander.”

And on: “Sound recordist, Iain
Bruce. Dubbing mixer, Bill Rowe.

Wardrobe supervisor, Richard
Pointing. Chief makeup artists.
George Blackler, Peter Robb-King.
Chief hairdresser, Joyce James. Lo-
cation managers, Lee Bolon, Ricky
Green. Choreographer, Gillian Gre-
gory. Set dresser, Ian Whittaker.
Special effects, effects associates,
Nobby Clarke. Unit publicist, Brian
Doyle. Still photography. Graham
Attwood. Lighting contractors, Lee
Electrics.”

7) There was a party in Chicago
to celebrate the local premiere of
“Tommy.” The party was held at
Arnie’s, one of the most fashionable
restaurants. This was one of several

“Tommy" parties being held in var-
ious major American cities; crepes,
sausages, salmon, eggs and pastries

were served in an atmosphere of
white walls and green palm fronds.
Waiters with rolling carts circulat-
ed throughout the wicker room. Ad-
mission was by invitation only, and
it was the hardest invitation in
town to come by.

Over in a corner. unnoticed for
much of the evening, was John Ent-
wistle, a bass guitar player, one of
the four young men who were the
original Who. He happened to be in
Chicago, had heard about the party.
and had stopped by. He spent his
time at the party hunched over a
pinball machine that had been cart-
ed in for the evening, playing again
and again. When someone recog-
nized him and asked whether he
had ever thought that The Who’s
career would result in the mov1e

version of “Tommy" and the series
of “Tommy” parties, he laughed,
shook his head, looked around the
room, and went back to the pinball
machine.

8) Rock and roll is now a $2.5
billion-a-year industry. It is the big-
gest entertainment industry in
American history. It is far bigger
than professional athletics. It is big-
ger than the movies ever were,
even in their heyday. This is what
happens.

9) Remember when Life maga-
zine gave eight pages to the public
outcry and anger over the sight of
Elvis Presley on stage? But it's Life
that died, so there’s no one left to
cover the “Tommy” parties.

10) There are no “rock operas."
There are only albums.

11) At the “Tommy" party, they
gave “Tommy” belts away.