Personalities | The Who | Rock Gods (1972) | Key Events


Pete’s Pilgrimage

Financial stability afforded the opportunity of relaxation after years of unremitting live work. For Townshend in particular, the previous couple of years had been exhausting. He spent much of the first part of 1972 occupying himself with Meher Baba, and in January he travelled to Arangaon, India, where he paid an emotional visit to Baba’s tomb, performing Cole Porter’s ‘Begin The Beguine’. I Am, the second album devoted to Baba, was released and included Townshend’s original demo for ‘Baba O’Riley’ as well as an adaptation of ‘O Parvardigar’, the Avatar’s universal prayer. He also recorded a German version for the opening of a European Baba centre.


European Tour 1972

The Who returned to the stage for the first time in eight months when they began their first European tour in two years in Germany. They had kept themselves busy with solo activities and the occasional foray into the studio for their new project, provisionally entitled Rock Is Dead – Long Live Rock. A single, ‘Join Together’, was released in June, together with a promotional film shot in front of fan-club members at London Weekend Television studios. The tour took in nine countries in one month.


Fête De L’Humanité

The largest show on the tour took place in Paris, where The Who performed in front of 400,000 people at the annual Fête De L’Humanité at La Courneuve. Whilst people speculated about their political stance – particularly over songs such as ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ – the band had never expressed any real political direction. The concert, however, was held by the French Communist Party and The Who took to the stage to a shower of red roses. The performance was filmed and shown the following year during the documentary Pop Galérie. A rehabilitating Eric Clapton travelled to the event at Townshend’s invitation.

Townshend’s Who Came First

Townshend became the second band member to release a solo album when Who Came First was launched on 29 September 1972. Ostensibly a devotional album for Meher Baba, the recording also included demos intended for the Lifehouse project. Although he called on a few fellow Baba devotees for assistance, the album was a true solo record which saw Pete playing almost all of the instruments, as well as taking on engineering and production duties. This was the first of seven studio albums (excluding live, compilations and the Scoop trilogy) and Townshend was to become the most critically successful solo performer within the band.


Orchestral Tommy Live

If the band thought that they had seen the back of Tommy they were mistaken. Earlier in the year the first approved stage production was mounted at the Aquarius Theatre in LA, after a run at the University of Southern California. Lou Reizner released his orchestral interpretation in November, and on 9 December a star-studded cast – many reprising their roles from the album – appeared in two shows at the Rainbow in aid of the charity SOS. The performances...

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