Tag Archive: The Who

Jul 28 2012

Popular Culture 20120727: John Alec Entwistle

I apologize for being absent last week.  I had a nasty cold and started on this very piece but just did not have the energy to finish it.

I am still doing background on the series about Jethro Tull, but and not ready to start writing the piece yet.  They were much more complicated insofar as the band lineup goes than most of the bands about which I have written, so it is taking some time.

Tonight we are going to look at who I consider to be the greatest rock and roll bass player who ever drew breath, Thunderfingers, aka The Ox.  But he was much more than a great bass player.  He was outstanding on brass instruments, and much of the early work by The Who has a lot of French horn in it.

He was also an accomplished songwriter and singer, and many of his songs were performed by The Who.  Songwriting is much more lucrative than merely performing, so he was always to get more of his songs on records.

Mar 03 2012

Popular Culture 20120302: Your Contraception

I must first offer my apologies to Peter Townshend.  Pete, sorry, but I think that you would probably approve of this.  Please know that I mean no disrespect to the original song.  This is just political satire using one of your standards.

Normally I do not write highly political pieces, that function being done far better by others here, but tonight is an exception.  I hope that this gets my feelings about how the Republicans have taken what should be a foregone conclusion and twisted it to try to make their point, whatever that point is.  I have tried to be witty and not mean with it, but when talking ’bout Republicans sometimes it is difficult to keep from getting mean.

Feb 18 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120217: A Brief History of The Who. 1978

Those of you who have been reading this series know that this will be the last installment about the history of The Who.  Although The Who continued to record new material and tour after 1978, to me the band really ended then and what was left was sort of what we now call a tribute band.

For 1978 to be such a disaster, it started off well enough, actually really well.  The Who were at the top of their game insofar as business interests went, Townshend, after being burnt by Kit Lambert, with whom he never reconciled, developed a high degree of business acumen, and The Who as a band were never strapped for cash again, although Moon and Entwistle had chronic money woes because of their lifestyles.  Daltrey was pretty conservative and also had a fairly successful acting career post 1978.

Although it pains me greatly to write this last installment, we might as well get on with it.  There are a number of ironies in 1978, and I shall point them out as we encounter them.  Please follow after the fold.

Feb 11 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120210: A Brief History of The Who. 1977

Last time we looked at the extremely busy 1976, a year filled with touring in Europe, the UK, and especially in North America.  It turns out that 1977 would be relatively quiet from that perspective, but quite lively from some others.

Townshend was burnt out from touring, and, interestingly, Daltrey was as well.  He even turned down a lucrative set of North American opportunities, saying that he could not devote the emotion and energy to a solo tour that he should reserve for future tours with The Who.

On the other hand, Entwistle and Moon lived to tour, but did not.  Moon never really had the wherewithal to tour solo, and the last time that Entwistle did he lost lots of money.  So they pretty stayed put for 1977.

Feb 04 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120203: A Brief History of The Who. 1976

Last time we looked at 1975, and if anything 1976 was a bit more settled for The Who in some respects.  Most of their time was spent doing a huge tour, with multiple Atlantic Ocean crossings.  There were a couple of reasons for that.

Likely the largest reason was that the dispute betwixt the band and Kit Lambert was still in litigation, and it was sort of difficult to release old material, and new material was still being written.  They were stuck in a way just to perform live.  That was to my personal advantage, and more on that is to come later.

One the whole, the band were probably at their best musically in 1976.  The exception was Moon, who was beginning to accelerate his decline both personally and musically, but that did not come out until sort of late in the year.

Jan 28 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120127: A Brief History of The Who. 1975

If 1974 had been a bizarre year, 1975 was more structured in some ways.  Several events happened in 1975 that were important to their financial security, for both good and ill.

The most significant events of 1975 were the release of the motion picture Tommy, the release of The Who by Numbers, and the beginning of a huge tour of Europe, the UK, and North America.  Now, there were certainly some problems associated with all three of these events, but 1975 turned out to be a pretty good year for them.

However, Townshend was not a really good frame of mind for much of the year.  He was very unhappy with his place in the band and whether or not there even should be a band called The Who, at least with him in it.  It is sort of an interesting turn of events that kept them together, and there is more on that later.

Jan 21 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120120. A Brief History of The Who. 1974

Whilst 1973 was a roller coaster year, 1974 was downright bizarre.  The main reason for that was the extreme domination of time and energy by the film version of Tommy.

This is as close to writing a piece about that motion picture as I am going to get, because I really did not like it very well, and though that it was just a caricature of the outstanding album.  I also blame that motion picture in part for the demise of Moon a few years later, mostly because of Moon’s relationship with Oliver Reed.

This year also provided a dearth of material from the band, with only two singles and one album being released.  There were also personal conflicts, particularly betwixt the band and their management.  

Jan 14 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120113: A Brief History of The Who

Last time we looked at 1972, sort of a quiet year for my favorite band.  1973 would be anything but quiet.  Townshend’s opus, Quadrophenia, was released late in the year, and there was a lot of internal conflict with the band members for the way it was done.

In addition, Kit Lambert was shown to be little more than an embezzler, and that caused a lot of more problems.  Townshend counted on Lambert as a musical wizard, and Lambert, because of his affliction to drugs and alcohol, was anything but that.

There was still a struggle for control of the band, with a surprise hit by Daltrey that gave him some credibility.  By that time, The Who belonged to Townshend, but Daltrey would not go down without a fight.

Then there were the other problems.  1973 would prove to be a very bad year for them, but also one of their best years.  Let’s go!

Jan 07 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120106: A Brief History of The Who

We covered 1971, one of their stellar years, last time.  Even with the crushing bruise to his ego about the collapse of Lifehouse, Townshend was soldiering on, starting to write new material for what many consider to the be finest effort that The Who would ever produce.  But 1972 was a slow year for them in many ways, and it took its toll.

They did not do a North American tour, and only did a few venues in Europe.  What is not widely known was that the rift betwixt the band and Kit Lambert was growing, due both to Lambert’s increasingly debilitating addiction to narcotics and alcohol and for lack of studio work for them.  They started working with Glyn Johns more and more, but Lambert still controlled the finances at Track Records, and that eventually prove to be a disaster.

Townshend spent most of the first two months of the year visiting shrines to Meyer Baba, his religious center, in India.  He also recorded some music that was released in limited editions to people who bought albums from the Baba association.  I have not included any of that in this piece, out of respect for Townshend.  I think that he would think that it is too personal for public display except for the faithful.

Dec 31 2011

Popular Culture (Music) 20111230: A Brief History of The Who

Last week we finished up 1970, which to date had been by far the best year for The Who insofar as commercial success goes.  Sales of Tommy were still good, and Live at Leeds was very well received both critically and in sales figures.

Now, what to do?  Townshend was at sort of a crossroads, knowing that he had to do something to show that Tommy was not just a fluke.  The answer to this, at least in his mind, was turned out to be the ill-fated Lifehouse project.  Since I did a standalone piece about Lifehouse here, I shall concentrate on other aspects of 1971.

I suggest that you read this chronological treatment of other things from 1971, then take a break and read the Lifehouse piece, then come back.  It’s OK, I can wait!  I have some snacks and can answer comments all night!

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