Personalities | The Who | Rock Gods (1970) | Key Events


Moon’s Chauffeur Killed

The highs of the Sixties quickly dissipated at the onset of the new decade. On 4 January, Keith Moon attended the opening of a nightclub in Hertfordshire. When he was leaving, a group of youths began kicking his car. The driver, Cornelius ‘Neil’ Boland, jumped out to clear a pathway and was knocked to the ground. Accounts vary as to the exact circumstances, but the car accelerated, dragging Boland underneath. He was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. Although Moon admitted driving, a verdict of accidental death was returned and no sentence was imposed. The incident, however, had a lasting effect on Moon.


Live At Leeds

The Tommy bandwagon moved on, and in January it was performed at some of Europe’s most prestigious opera houses. However, the success of the rock opera had left its creators with a dilemma – how to follow it. The answer was to record a live album as a stopgap. Although many of the shows in the late Sixties had been recorded for possible live release, the band had never been happy with the results and so two shows – played at Leeds and Hull – were arranged and recorded in February. The subsequent album Live At Leeds, released in May 1970, is generally regarded as the seminal live recording by any artist.


Tommy In New York

A new single, ‘The Seeker’, was released in March and Live At Leeds in May, before the band returned to the US in June. Having played the European opera houses it was only natural that they should perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. The two shows on 7 June attracted 8,000 fans and sold out within hours of tickets going on sale. No other rock band – before or since – has been allowed to tread the hallowed boards of the Met, and the shows grossed $55,000. Snippets of the performance were broadcast on CBS news reports.


Isle Of Wight Festival 1970

The Met shows were intended to mark the end of Tommy as the focal point of the stage show, and new material was introduced into the act. The relentless touring continued and The Who returned to the Isle Of Wight Festival in August, this time as headliners. The Aquarian festival dream of Monterey and Woodstock had already been destroyed by the darkness of Altamont, and the Isle Of Wight added to this. Fences were torn down, making the concert a free-for-all that resulted in The Who playing to an estimated 600,000 people.


European Tour

The rest of the year continued in a similar vein, with more shows in Europe and the UK. Townshend had, however, begun working on the follow-up to Tommy, and the band fitted in recording during the heavy touring schedule throughout the year. Some of the songs, such as ‘I Don’t Even Know Myself’, ‘Naked Eye’ and ‘Water’, had made it into the live set, but Tommy still dominated. This...

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