Exhibit focused on one work: ‘Tommy’
By MB. KHOPKO
CLEVELAND — The Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame chose The
Who’s rock 0 re “Tommy” for its
ﬁrst exhibit edicated to one rock
classic 1y because of its reach
as an um, a ﬁlm and a Broad-
“The Who are one of the great
bands in rock and roll history, and
'Ibmmy is one of their eatest
works,” said Jim Henke, e Rock
Hall’s chief curator. “We have
worked closely with Pete Town-
shend, who created ‘Tommy,’ and
the result is a comprehensive look
at the first rock opera.”
The title character is a boy who
can’t hear, talk or see after wit-
nessing his father’s murder but
m:nages to become a pinball wiz-
The exhibit has instruments
used by The Who, an outfit worn
by lead singer Roger Daltrey in a
“Tommy” performance, pinball
machines and the modest focal
point, handwritten notes 'lbwn-
shend provided showing his cre-
ation of “'lbmmy” lyrics.
Henke said the concept for a
“Tommy” exhibit began at an in-
Items In Rock Hall's “Tommy”exhlb|t
CLEVELAND —- A sampling of items in the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame's exhibit about the rock opera “Tommy” created by The Who:
I Handwritten notes revealing Pete Townshend's evolving “Tommy”
I “Tommy Can You Hear Me/Go To the Mirror” handwritten lyrics.
I Roger Daltrey’s suit from playing the title character in the “Tommy"
I Some stage instruments, guitars and drums, from The Who.
I Program from Theatre de Champs Alysses, a European opera
house, where The Who performed “T ommy.” .
' I A typed letter about “Tommy" from Pete Townshend to fan club.
I Letter from Pete Townshend to director Ken Russell with detailed
casting proposals for the “Tommy" movie.
I Poster for The Who. James Gang and James Taylor performance
at Public Hall. Cleveland, 1970.
house brainstorming session
about three years ago. The Rock
Hall, which opened in 1995, had fo-
cused its exhibits on the careers
of performers or the history of
musical styles, so to focus on one
work in “TOMMY: The Amazing
Journey” was seen as a big
“I guess what made "lbmmy’ in-
teresting for us was that there was
The Who’s album, the movie and
a Broadway version, ballet com-
panies did versions of it and so did
thed London Symphony,” Henke
The record in 1969 helped The
Who become world famous, and
“Tommy” quickly soared to near
the top of US. album charts. The
Who’s subsequent tour included a
full performance of “Tommy.” U1-
timately, it was performed at sev-
eral major opera houses.
The stage musical opened on
Broadway in 1993, running 928 per-
formances through 1995 and win-
ning ﬁve Tony Awards. In 1996, the
production had an 11-month run in
London. It still lives on in commu-
nity and high school theaters,
In 1975, director Ken Russell’s
film version opened, starring The
Who, Ann Mar aret, Oliver Reed
and J ack Nicho on.. A video of the .
film plays at the exhibit, which
will be open until March 2006.
Henke didn’t move ahead with
plans to feature The Who’s 1969
concept album without the ap-
proval of Pete 'Ib'wnshend, who re-
mains the creative force of The
Who. The British group was in-
ducted into the Rock Hall in 1990
and occasionally still performs,
featuring 'lbwnshend and Daltrey,
the two surviving original mem-
Townshend has long had a close
connection with the Rock Hall.
“For the (Rock Hall) ground-
breaking in 1993, he donated an
acoustic guitar that was the one he
used to write ‘Pinball Wizard,’ and
it was the first donation we ever
got,” Henke said. “Mainly his in-
volvement was letting us get into