Personalities | The Who | Rock Gods (1969–78) | An Overview
Tommy proved to be The Who’s salvation. Whilst it did not make an immediate impact, subsequent performances – including headline slots at the Woodstock and Isle Of Wight festivals – catapulted the group into superstardom. They rewrote the rule book when it came to live shows, and raised the rock bar so high that few could follow.
The intended follow-up, Lifehouse, could have been their meisterwerk but it was smothered by technology and indifference. It was abandoned, much to the frustration of its originator, but the album picked from its remains, Who’s Next, is still considered one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
Finally the band had financial security. With it came the trappings of luxury – some good and some bad. Drink and drugs began to take their toll and eventually led to tragedy. Keith Moon was the first member to outwardly show the extent of the problem during the 1973 Quadrophenia tour in America. The production was magnificent in the studio but unwieldy on stage. This, together with the failure of Lifehouse, led Townshend to despair. He began to reassess his and the band’s position. As they began to take longer breaks from the road, they became more interested in solo activities. Moon suffered most from not playing and relocated to LA, where his partying became infamous. On his return to the UK in 1978 he was woefully out of shape and, despite appearing indestructible, he died that September.
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