Personalities | The Who | Rock Gods (1973) | Key Events
Eric Clapton Collaboration
As in the previous year, The Who began 1973 in virtual hibernation. Pete Townshend had agreed to help Eric Clapton go through some Derek And The Dominoes tapes a year earlier, but Clapton was engulfed in a heroin addiction at the time, and Townshend now started to take a leading role in helping his friend kick the drug. After 10 days of rehearsals, which Clapton found gruelling, they eventually took to the stage on 13 January for two shows at the Rainbow. Backed by a supergroup that included Townshend, Ron Wood and Steve Winwood, the shows were ostensibly arranged to mark Britain’s entry into the Common Market.
Daltrey Releases Daltrey
The unusual period of band inactivity led Roger Daltrey in the direction of his own solo album. Recorded at the start of 1973 and released in April, the eponymous Daltrey was the first major solo success for any of the band members, even spawning an unexpected hit single in ‘Giving It All Away’. The material was far removed from what he had become accustomed to in The Who, leaning more towards pop. Daltrey saw this more as a learning process to improve his vocal abilities rather than a serious move away from the band he had founded. In all, Daltrey has produced eight solo studio albums.
The Rock Is Dead idea floundered and Townshend reused some of the themes to fashion a new story that harked back to the band’s origins. Quadrophenia told the tale of a London mod and his quest for identity and salvation. Recording began in May at Ramport Studios, The Who’s own studio in Battersea, which was still under construction during these recording sessions. In June they filmed a sequence at the Rainbow Theatre, intended for use as a backdrop to the later live shows. During this period, Ken Russell visited the studio to discuss the film version of Tommy, which he would direct the following year.
The first fruit of the Quadrophenia sessions was the release of ‘5.15’ on 5 October 1973. Two days earlier the band had appeared on the 500th edition of Top Of The Pops, a show that would further enhance their hell-raising image. Annoyed by BBC rules, the band ended the performance by destroying the set and, having earlier emptied out the prop room, distributing the contents into the audience. Townshend finished by giving a two-finger salute. It was a tightly edited version that was transmitted the following night. The single reached No. 20 in the charts and the ban the incident had incurred was later lifted.
Rehearsals for the tour were fraught, and at one point Daltrey felled Townshend with a single punch, sending him to hospital with amnesia. As before, the band embarked on the tour before the new album was released. However, unlike Who’s Next, Quadrophenia was a complete piece, and the sequence of songs was interrupted with explanations of the...
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