October 26, 2020

1980-04-25 – The Minneapolis Star

1980 04 25 The_Minneapolis_Star_Fri__Apr_25__1980_ 2

Drummer’s tragic death
shocks The Who to life

(W110, from Page TB)

tics was added after Townshend
inadvertently stuck his guitar
through a low ceiling in a pub one
night. breaking the neck of the gui-
tar. F urious. he proceeded to smash
the guitar to pieces. And that's the
way The Who’s shows climaxedu
with autodestruction—Townshend
decimating his guitar and the mad-
cap Moon collapsing over his drum
kit. it was a reputation The Who
would never shed.

The band became regulars at the
fashionable Marquee Club and on
the weekly music television show.
“Ready. Steady, Go." The group‘s
managers then approached Shel
Talmy. an American expatriate
who had produced hit records for
the Kinks.

The Who’s first two records. “I
Can't Explain" and ”Anyway,
Anyhow. Anywhere." were minor
hits—but the next single. “My
Generation." became a classic.

It was one of those songs that
helped turn pop music into rock
music. In ‘65, it was an ideal an-
them for rebellious youth. “Hope 1
die before I get old," screamed Dal-
trey as the band pounded relent-
lessly behind him.

“My Generation" became a
three-minute revolution.

Unlike other British bands, The
Who’s ori inal music did not seem
to be chie y influenced by Ameri-
can- blues and rhythm-and-blues.
Instead. the quartet was inspired
by white U.S. rockers such as the
Beach Boys. Gene Vincent and Ed-
die Cochran. whose “Summertime
Blues" would later became a Who
staple. From them. Townshend
adapted his own style of guitar
playing, heavy on white noise
rather than earthy blues.

After "My Generation," The
Who scored four quick hits-“A
Legal Matter.” "Substitute," “The
Kids Are Alright” and “l'm a Boy.“
The hand was hemming very pap-
ular in England. even though the
musicians’ notorious onstage de-
struction had put them heavily in
debt.

The group, however was virtu-
ally unknown in the United States
and Townshend' s ambitions
toward a major art-form—he in-
cluded a 10-minute, Kinks-inspired
mini-o era on the second album—
seem foreign to US. rock fans.

in 1967. The Who made its US.
concert debut and the song ‘Happy
Jack.“ which showed a strong
Beach Boys influence scored in the
States Yet the musicians‘ destruc-
tive antics, especially by Moon and
Townshend, carried over to hotel
rooms. it would be another two
years before the band would make
any money.

The group‘s third album. “The
Who Sell Out,” was a concept rec-
ord on which the songs were
linked by various radio jingies. The
album featured another mini-opera
and a seminal psychedelic song. “I
Can See for Miles." which became

a major hit in both England and the
United States.

in 1969. The Who rose to the top
of the rock pile with a stirring per-
formance at Woodstock and the
landmark album ”Tommy." a 90
minute. two-record rock opera
about a deaf, dumb and blind pin-
ball wizard-turned-guru. which
was supposedly inspired by Town-
shend‘s study with Meher Baba. an
Indian guru who lived 44 years
without speaking.

“Tommy" was not an immediate
commercial or critical success But
the band convinced skeptics by
taking the music on tour.

The momentum continued the
next year when The Who issued
”Live at Leeds," which captured
the instrumental force, phenom-
enal energy and transcendent ef-
fect of the band’s concerts.

While a theatrical production of
“Tommy" was being developed for
the London stage (in 1975, produc-
er Ken Russell would make a film
based on the record). Townshend
worked on a science-liction film
that never reached fruition. How-
ever. in '7], the band adopted ele-
ments of Townshend's effort into a
remarkable album called “Who’s

Next. " which introduced the syn-

thesizer as an instrument of rock
music.

Townshend focused on the role
of the rock star. In the son “Baba
O’Riley." he called the roc scene
a “teen-age wasteland" and in
“Won’t Get Fooled Again." a major
bit. he showed little hope.

The next project was another op-
era, “Quadrophenia,” the story of
an aimless Mod lad, with each
band member representing one l‘ac-
et of his personality. Although it
yielded a hit single “5. 15 " the al-

bum was not a major commercial
success.

in 1975, the quartet released
“The Who by Numbers," which ar-
ticulated Townshend' s disillusion-
ment with the trappings of success
and produced an oilbeat hit,
“Squeeze Box. " Three years later,
he pickedu ug the theme on “Who
Are You ” he title song which

dealt with losing and finding one' s
identity. became a hit but “Music
Must Change" signaled an end to

the rock 'n‘ roll promise of eternal
youth.

Along the way. the members of
The Who. all of whom became dis-
tinct personalities. were involved
in other projects. Pretty-boy Dal-
tre starred in the film “Tommy"

issued three mar lnal solo al-
bums, which yielde a near-hit,
“Giving it All Away.”

Entwistle. the stable force in the
band who contributed songs and
supervised album production, re-
corded two respectable solo a1-
bums. Moon recorded a disastrous
solo record of old rock songs while
Townshend’s solo effort. inspired
by his guru, and a rock collabora-
tion with r-x-Faces bassist Ronnie
Lane were well-received by critics.

In addition. two Who compila-
tion albums were issued. ”Meaty
Beaty Bi and Bouncy." a collec-
tion of tie band’ 5 early singles.
was released in '72 while “Odds
and Soda. ” an anthology of songs
that never made it onto albums
was made available in '75.